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Centre of Development Studies


Dr Alessandra Mezzadri

Exploitation and Social Reproduction across the Sweatshop Regime: On Value, Unfreedom, and Body Depletion 

Based on insights on India's Sweatshop Regime  (Cambridge 2017, paperback forthcoming), this seminar depicts the Indian garment sweatshop as a 'regime' of exploitation and oppression crafted by multiple actors, gendered in many ways, and crossing productive and reproductive realms. This labour-centred approach combines political economy and feminist approaches to the study of the global shopfloor, its spatialisation, and gendered traits. The story of the Sweatshop Regime contributes to key development debates on industrialization, modern slavery, and ethical consumerism. Moreover, it also contributes to the feminist literature. First, it provides useful insights to the social reproduction debate, by showing the intimate interplay between production and social reproduction in paving the foundations of processes of labour surplus extraction. Second, it genders debates on labour unfreedom, by analyzing the complex relation between patriarchal unfreedom and labour neobondage. Finally, it highlights how body depletion is an intrinsic aspect of labouring in the sweatshop, even in the absence of industrial disasters. 

Dr Alessandra Mezzadri is Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at SOAS, London. Her research interests focus on global industrial circuits and labour informalisation; labour standards, modern slavery debates and ethical consumerism; feminisms in development and social reproduction approaches; and India’s political economy. Her research has been published in journals such as Radical Philosophy, Development and Change, Geoforum, Third World Quarterly, Progress in Development Studies and Competition and Change, among others, and has featured in several media outlets. Alessandra is the author of The Sweatshop Regime: Labouring Bodies, Exploitation and Garments 'Made in India' published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.

Thursday, 27 February, 2020 - 15:30 to 17:00
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