Honorable Mention, Elsa Goveia Book Prize, Association of Caribbean Historians, 2021

My first book The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Mobility, and Boundary Making was published by the University of North Carolina Press 2020. In this monograph, I integrate social and environmental history. It required multisited archival research in four countries (e.g. Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, and U.S), which was supported by internal and external funding from several prestigious grants and scholarships. This book centers on Caymanian mariners and reveals how these islanders made a living from hunting turtle, created a distinctive fishing and work cultures, transformed the environment, and challenged the authority of both imperial and national states throughout the circum-Caribbean from the late nineteenth to late twentieth centuries. Along with feeding themselves and local populations, Caymanian turtlemen’s actions exposed important political and ecological problems related to imperial/national borders, labor mobility, and rights to marine resources. To get at these issues, my book investigates how the pursuit of sea-based commodities led to a struggle among harvesters and governments over claims to ecologically mobile resources. These struggles extended beyond the issue of extractive economies to raise new questions about the definition of national borders and the meaning of ecological sustainability.

Book Presentation at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, 2015


“Este libro realiza un gran aporte para la historia del Caribe. A quienes estudiamos historia laboral, nos presenta un modelo de cómo incorporar la historia ambiental para comprender la transformación del trabajo. Asimismo, nos sugiere la necesidad de explorar experiencias consideradas marginales y no modernas pero que, como en el caso de los cazadores de tortugas, fundamentales para entender la heterogeneidad y complejidad del mundo del trabajo.” Angela Vergara, Revista Latinoamericana de Trabajo y Trabajadores

“Crawford relays the modern history of the Caymanian turtlemen with such compassion that it is almost possible to focus solely on this human story and miss the important historiographical contributions this book makes to environmental history, labor history, and Caribbean history. Crawford’s reflections on the regional, hemispheric, and Atlantic significance of her findings are largely confined to the introduction and then to each chapter’s conclusion. Her authorial modesty cannot, however, hide the punch that this slender, graceful book packs.” Molly Warsh, The American Historical Review

“Crawford makes an important intervention by decentering terrestrial perspectives and assumptions concerning human experiences, making the ocean her analytical epicenter, while islands and continental shorelines frame the periphery. She reminds scholars that seas, especially for coastal people and islanders, were not only watery highways but also important arenas of economic, social, cultural, and political production, while serving as places of meaning and belonging that connected peoples who shared economic interests even as they differed in terms of race, ethnicity, and national and imperial origins.” Kevin Dawson, Journal of American History

The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making provides a valuable maritime perspective of the Caribbean past by examining the dimensions of a unique circuit of resource extraction and the mobility of both hunter and prey. Unlike many world histories of commodities, Crawford’s scholarship casts a wider lens that includes biology, geography, diplomatic history, labor history, and family sagas, arguing for and revealing a single narrative that resolves around two sea turtle species.” Candice Goucher, World History Connected