Working to Sweat: Labor, Narrative, and Redemption

  • Maya Mayblin
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


Over the course of my stay in Santa Lucia, I became accustomed to hearing people recite lengthy lists of the chores they had completed since waking. Typically this would happen as I chanced upon some acquaintance on a midmorning stroll. Upon exchanging “good mornings” I would enquire after the person and would often receive a long reply, which included a list of the various jobs and tasks the person had been busy with since the break of day. On one occasion I enquired after a passing female friend, which lead her to inform me that she had been up since the crack of dawn, and had already fetched water, swept the house, fed the livestock, washed a huge pile of clothes, and sorted the beans for lunch. Such verbal deluges puzzled me, and for a long time I took them personally, thinking they constituted a polite way of casting moral doubt over my own “chore-free” existence. This, however, would only have made sense if they had never exchanged such dialogue with one another. Time and again I overheard women greeting one another at that crucial hour of the day. “Oh comadre,” a neighbor would call out over the small fence of her backyard to Dida, who at that time was usually at her outside sink, shelling beans or straining cheese. “What is it comadre?” Dida would ask. “I’ve just finished sweeping the entire terrain,” would come the reply, “before that I carried the clothes to be washed, I fed the animals, and I’ve been scraping manioc since four a.m.” “It’s a struggle comadre,” Dida would respond and continue at her task.


Moral Worth Livestock Rear Moral Transgression Liberation Theology Religious Woman 
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© Maya Mayblin 2010

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  • Maya Mayblin

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