The Sweatshop Regime: Garments, Exploitation, and labouring Bodies made in India

Drawing from Marxian and feminist insights, this presentation, based on a recently completed book, theorizes the garment sweatshop in India as a complex ‘regime’ of exploitation and oppression, jointly crafted by global, regional and local actors, and working across productive and reproductive realms. The analysis shows the tight correspondence between the physical and social materiality of garment production in India; it illustrates the great social differentiation and complex patterns of labour unfreedom at work in the industry; and it depicts the sweatshop as a complex joint enterprise against the labouring body, which is systematically and inexorably depleted and consumed by garment work, even in the absence of major industrial disasters, like Rana Plaza. By placing labour at the very centre of the analysis of processes of development, the book critically engages with key debates on industrial modernity, modern slavery, and ethical consumerism.