Castoffs of Capital

Work and Love among Garment Workers in Bangladesh

2022
Author:

Lamia Karim

Dispelling stereotypes about garment workers in the global apparel industry

Castoffs of Capital draws on fieldwork in Bangladesh to examine how female garment workers experience their work and personal lives within the stranglehold of global capital. Anthropologist Lamia Karim focuses on relations among work, gender, and global capital’s targeting of poor women to advance its market penetration, showing how women navigate these spaces by adopting new subject formations.

Castoffs of Capital examines how female garment workers experience their work and personal lives within the stranglehold of global capital. Drawing on fieldwork in Bangladesh, anthropologist Lamia Karim focuses attention on the lives of older women aged out of factory work, previously largely ignored, introducing a new dimension to the understanding of a female-headed workforce that today numbers around four million in Bangladesh.

Through a feminist labor studies lens, Castoffs of Capital foregrounds these women not as workers but as mothers, wives, sisters, lovers, friends, and political agents. Analyzing relations among work, gender, and global capital’s targeting of poor women to advance its market penetration, Karim shows how women navigate these spaces by adopting new subject formations. She locates these women’s aspirations for the “good life” not only in material comforts but also in their longings for love and sexual fulfillment that help them momentarily forget the precarity of their existence under the shadow of capital.

Through richly detailed ethnographic studies, this innovative and beautifully written book examines the making and unmaking of these women’s wants and desires, loves and tribulations, hopes and despairs, and triumphs and struggles.

Cover alt text: Woman in headscarf facing forward. An opaque rectangle with the title and author name obscures her face, with translucent colored rectangles below.

Lamia Karim is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon. She is author of Microfinance and Its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh (Minnesota, 2011).

About This Book