Author Archives

Sandya Hewamanne

Research Findings

Why invisible bondage is crucial for neoliberal development to thrive

October 13, 2022

Many connect ‘unfree labor’ with slavery. This view, however, makes other forms of ‘unfreedom,’ where labor is prevented from entering or exiting labor markets on their own, escape scrutiny.

Based on ethnographic research conducted among Sri Lanka’s female global factory workers, my new work demonstrates that even when women are not forced to join or stay within contractor labor pools, they remain unfree due to cultural and emotional bonds that restrict their mobility.

Focusing on the intricate ways such invisible bonds are produced, I shed light on the contradictions of global capitalism: specifically, the promise of freedom versus the reality of complex forms of coercion. Instead of the promised social independence, women encounter newer forms of control and discipline that seek to make them obedient workers of global assembly lines.

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