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Abstract

Inspired by the Marxian conceptualization of ‘estranged labour’, this paper seeks to explore the phenomenon of ‘sewing girls’ of global garment factories in Sri Lanka leaving waged work after a relatively short span of time, drawing on this trend of thought. Even though issues surrounding female labour in the global garment industry are widely researched, there is little or no evidence of existing literature attempting to place the empirical issues within a Marxist conceptual framework. It is in this context that this paper, which takes on a methodological approach of ethnography from a feminist perspective attempts to narrate the ‘stories’ of ‘sewing girls’ of a postcolonial garment factory in Sri Lankan as they work as labourers on the global assembly line. Their ‘stories’ as told here shed light on the similarities between ‘estranged labour’ as described by Marx and the labour of ‘sewing girls’ spend on the global assembly lines. The multiply oppressive conditions under which they work and the inevitably of leaving waged work after short spans are also revealed through their stories, situated and read within the Marxian concept of ‘estranged labour’.

Note on the Author

Prajna Seneviratne is a Senior Lecturer in Critical Human Resource Management at the Department of Management in the Open University of Sri Lanka. Her research interests are women’s (re)productive labour, Marxist and postcolonial feminist analysis and feminist research methodologies.

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