Joseph Klein

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Cruz, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10564

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Klein, Joseph (California, Santa Cruz, U. of) "The World for a Coral: Fortune and Belonging on the Reefs of Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia"

The World for a Coral tells the story of divers who scour the reefs of Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, for beautiful and increasingly rare live corals for the global aquarium industry. Working on small wooden boats and breathing from makeshift air compressors, divers gather corals from reefs near the provincial capital city, Kendari, destined for saltwater aquariums around the world. For years coral collecting brought prosperity to divers and their communities—a blessing of good fortune, or rejeki. But as Indonesia’s coral reefs continue to decline, divers are pushed to intensify their efforts—sailing farther, diving deeper, and searching longer—working harder under more dangerous conditions for the same or diminishing returns. This book project offers an intimate portrait of communities who depend on coral reefs, while examining the production of value and commodities at the margins of global capitalism—and at an inflection point of environmental change. It explores the messy, complicated, and surprising forces driving the loss of coral reefs, and chronicles attempts to chart a new course. As they work to piece together a livelihood at a time of environmental loss, divers and their communities are driven to reimagine the meaning of belonging, ownership, and the promise of fortune.