Accepted Paper:

(Re)making life and dreams: intricacies of capital, state and labour in the garment industries of Bangladesh  


Mohammad Tareq Hasan (University of Dhaka)

Paper short abstract:

Individual lives in wake of Capital and State must survive through continues (re)making of livelihood and dreams. Thus, the history of garment industry and the labour in Bangladesh, its current conditions and future prospects are intricately connected with national and international policies.

Paper long abstract:

The garment industries in Bangladesh employ more than 4 million people in about 4500 factories (national and multi-national). Export earnings from the garments sector were USD 116.2 million in 1984/85 that increased to USD 24491.88 million in 2013-14. This growth of the export oriented garment industry in Bangladesh has been flourishing through investment of foreign capital since 1980s, as Multi-National Companies (MNCs) contracting production to locally owned firms and the State pursed the strategy of export-oriented industrialization. Hence, based on ethnographic information, I argue that the 'geographical mobility of capital' at the global level, which started come to Bangladesh during 1980s, initiated a process of 'accumulation by dispossession'. Further, greater levels of inequality have been created due to inherent power imbalances in the global market relations between multi-national corporations, local industries and the workers; and the benefits of this export oriented growth accumulates to those at the top of the supply chains at the expense of those at the bottom which disproportionately include women and migrant workers. I have found that the labour of the export oriented garment factories continuously (re)make and (re)map their livelihood options as well as their dreams of a 'good life'. Besides, oligarchic business corporations use and override state and international polices to exploit the labour. Therefore, I argue that, the history of the flourishing garment industry and the labour in Bangladesh, its current conditions and its future prospects are intricately connected with policies formulated at the national and even more, at the international level.

Panel WIM-GF02
Fictions of capital: movements and modalities