Sri Lanka’s Global Factory Workers
Routledge – 2014 – 224 pages
This book is concerned with Sri Lanka’s global factory workers based in the Free Trade Zone (FTZ). These FTZs employ thousands of unmarried rural women, and their migration has aroused deep anxieties over female morality and ideal conduct.
The book analyses social class and intersections of gender, class, and sexuality by focussing on the sexual lives and struggles of the female workers. Examining the role of the factory worker community , their experiences and sexual identities, the author demonstrates the workers‘ agency in their lives and work. The book also highlights the women workers’ own understanding of the good, talented woman who enjoys available social and sexual opportunities without getting in trouble (pregnant); faithfully takes care of her responsibilities to her natal family in the village; and safeguards its good name by marrying her boyfriend or someone chosen by her parents. This alternative ideal and long-term empowerment are significantly circumscribed by the temporary character of their job – which requires them to return to their villages after a few years – and by the mainstream understanding of women’s good reputation and the expectation of virginity at marriage.
An important contribution to the field of gender studies, the book addresses issues surrounding sexuality, particularly how it is shaped by global production networks as well as patriarchal nationalist projects.
1. Introduction 2. Sexualities, Denials, and Sufferings 3. Village Women ‘Gone Wild": Reading and Writing Pornography 4. Romance on the Streets: Negotiating Sexual Meanings in Public Spaces 5. "My Duty to My Nation": The Garment Workers and the Military 6. Punishing Transgressing Women: Gendered and Classed Responses to the "Crisis of Love and Sex" 7. Managing Village Lives 8. Conclusion
Sandya Hewamanne is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Wake Forest University. Her research interests include globalization, identity, cultural politics and feminist and post colonial theory.