Fish and Bait
Fish and Bait
An examination of the role of patron-client relations in the fleet’s growth and operation. The chapter adds patronage to the previous chapter’s theme of class relations. Here too the focus of the chapter – patronage – is examined through the scaling device that people use as its vessel: seafood. The chapter follows the paths of seafood from the hierarchies of onboard sorting and packing process, through seafood’s role in mediating patron-client relations between fishing magnates and the powers that be, all the way to Italy’s heads of state, as emblems of power and obligation. Onboard, the chapter examines how the channeling of various kinds of fish shapes social relations, an economy of favors, clandestine gains, and fishers’ outlooks. Following the tracks of these seafood items ashore, the chapter reconstructs the formation of a new class of boat owners—a ‘maritime gentry’ of sorts. I show how these people, who personified the politico-economic interests and the southbound drive that conditioned the fleet’s operation, increased their local political influence through the personal patron-client relations they formed beyond the local political scene and by framing patronage as the condition for Mazara’s prosperity.
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