This introduction to the study of work in Costa Rica develops a frame of reference for articles about (1) the long tradition of “pot hunting,” i.e., looting and commercializing antiquities; (2) the diverse traditions of artisan work with wood; (3) ambiguities about indigenous identity in the emergence of new livelihoods in response to cultural tourism; and (4) the attainment of “professional” status in a direct-sales network of an international company promoting products claimed to enhance health. The articles explore different settings, time periods and other dimensions of work, yet they share a sense of the importance of respecting a component of the national ethos dedicated to the enjoyment of life, pura vida, which encompasses satisfying and sustainable livelihoods. Beyond the researchers' findings, treated separately and comparatively, their underlying assumptions and approaches also reveal distinctive aspects of the “work of anthropology” in Costa Rica.
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