Accepted paper:

Industrialization and the making of 'modern' Bangladesh: history and future

Authors:

Mohammad Tareq Hasan (University of Dhaka)

Paper short abstract:

The 'global capital', which started come to Bangladesh through garment industries during 1980s, initiated a process of 'accumulation by dispossession'. However, the workers, which disproportionately include women and migrants, continuously navigate their livelihood options for a 'imagined future'.

Paper long abstract:

The garment industry in Bangladesh has created massive employment opportunities and more than 4 million workers are working in about 4500 garment factories (national and multinational). Since mid-1980s, Bangladesh has been trying to develop 'a good business climate' to foster step towards 'modernity'. Hence, government policies informed by notions of 'neoliberalism', 'globalization', 'modernity' (shaped by World Bank and IMF) has been influential for the significant growth of export-oriented industrialization through garment sector during the past decades. The success and rapid growth of the Ready-made Garment (RMG) industry is exemplified from the fact that apparel was 4 percent of the total merchandise exported in 1983-84 whereas it was almost 80 percent in 2015-16. From the perspective of the industrial workers, I have explored the role of garment industries to the development of wage labour and reveal socio-economic effects that 'modern industry work' has had on the workers. 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'. Besides, oligarchic business corporations use and override state and international polices to exploit the labour. I hold that the process of accumulation, working class formation and proletarianization have created an 'inside-outside' dialectic in the existing form of neoliberal capitalism in Bangladesh. However, amidst rapid change and rupture of existing social systems, the workers of the export oriented garment factories, which disproportionately include women and migrants, continuously navigate their livelihood options for an 'imagined future'.

panel P42
Modernization 2.0: new directions in the anthropology of development