She Sells Seashells: Women and Mollusks in Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico



In this chapter, I examine seashells recovered from a 1985 archaeological study of Bahias de Huatulco, Mexico. I focus on both the primary and the secondary functions of the shells, describing their use as food, construction material, and an important dye source. I begin by discussing the shells in their local context and then later outline arguments both for and against shell trade inland. I ask, why are the shells here, and then, why these specific shells? In answering these questions, I investigate how these shells were used, the industries that they imply, and, finally, how women are necessarily implicated in processes of collection and production.