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Women's Labor in the Global Economy

Women's Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices

EDITED BY SHARON HARLEY
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjd5r
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  • Book Info
    Women's Labor in the Global Economy
    Book Description:

    How women of color around the world adapt and challenge the economic, political, and social effects of globalization is the subject of this broad-minded and incisive anthology. From Mexico, Jamaica, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka, to immigrant and non-immigrant communities in the United States-the women documented in these essays are agricultural and factory workers, artists and entrepreneurs, mothers and activists. Their stories bear stark witness to how globalization continues to develop new sites and forms of exploitation, while its apparent victims continue to be women, men, and children of color.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4165-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
    S.H.
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    SHARON HARLEY

    Women of color have historically adapted to changes in their local environments, social/familial orders, and relations of production. Recently, changes largely spurred by the machinations of globalization have required them to create new strategies for ensuring their daily survival. Globalization is reshaping the nature of women’s work—howthey work, in what conditions, in what capacities—and, in the process, creating economic systems that are not only gendered, but also raced and classed. Subsequently, women of color respond with innovation and tenacity in order to survive fluctuations in the market and its attendant social and cultural shifts. Though they may...

  5. Part I Laboring in Transnational Public Spheres

    • Race Women: CULTURAL PRODUCTIONS AND RADICAL LABOR POLITICS
      (pp. 9-27)
      SHARON HARLEY

      In 1884, five-year-old Nannie Helen Burroughs, her sister, and her mother, Jennie (Poindexter) Burroughs, left Orange County, Virginia, bound for Washington, D.C., then one of late nineteenth-century America’s “Negro Meccas.” It was the destination of single and married black women and men—especially those from the South—in search of better jobs, better educational opportunities for their children, and a place where racist physical attacks were more the exception than the rule. The long hours, hard work, and many personal sacrifices of her washerwoman mother enabled Burroughs to attend and graduate from M Street High School, at the time one...

    • Of Poetics and Politics: THE BORDER JOURNEYS OF LUISA MORENO
      (pp. 28-45)
      VICKI L. RUIZ

      Over a quarter of a century ago, between my first and second year of graduate school, I spent part of the summer in Guadalajara, Mexico, interviewing Latina labor and political activist Luisa Moreno.¹ Early one morning, we boarded a bus that took us to a poor, fairly isolatedcoloniaoutside the city. After walking a few blocks, we entered a plaza of sorts. We had come on market day, and women, dressed in traditional indigenous garb, were busy selling their wares—richly colored chiles, mangoes, other fruits, vegetables, and live poultry. As I followed Luisa as she made her purchases,...

    • Caring and Inequality
      (pp. 46-61)
      EVELYN NAKANO GLENN

      The following words from two caregivers serve as a prologue to this chapter.

      “I live a treadmill life and I see my own children only when they happen to see me on the streets when I am out with the [employer’s] children. . . . You might as well say that I’m on duty all the time—from sunrise to sunrise, every day in the week. I am the slave, body and soul, of this family. And what do I get for this work? . . . The pitiful sum of ten dollars a month! And what am I expected...

    • Economic Crisis and Political Mobilization: RESHAPING CULTURES OF RESISTANCE IN TAMPA’S COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, 1929–1939
      (pp. 62-82)
      NANCY A. HEWITT

      The Great Depression of the 1930s shattered the economies of countries around the world. Individuals, families, and communities already living on the economic margins were devastated as hard won jobs, homes, and security were swept away in the currents of global collapse. The devastation that followed upon the economic crisis inspired a range of social and political movements, from fascist regimes to leftist insurgencies. This chapter focuses on a single city in the United States—Tampa, Florida—to explore the effects of the Depression on community organizing among African American and immigrant women.

      Tampa offers a valuable window into Depression-era...

  6. Part II The Global Politics of Labor

    • Surviving Globalization: IMMIGRANT WOMEN WORKERS IN LATE CAPITALIST AMERICA
      (pp. 85-102)
      EVELYN HU-DEHART

      Rosario Jocha, forty-nine, stands at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Thirty-seventh Street in Manhattan, in the heart of the fashion district, hoping to be picked up for a day’s work. She said she had recently grabbed at the chance to cut threads from jackets for $5.75 an hour, twenty-four cents below New York State’s minimum wage. The man who offered the job was a Chinese immigrant subcontractor who said he could not pay more. “What else is there to do if you have nothing to eat?” Rosario lamented, adding, “I’ve been here eleven years, and I still have not...

    • Harassment of Female Farmworkers: CAN THE LEGAL SYSTEM HELP?
      (pp. 103-115)
      MARIA L. ONTIVEROS

      In the 1990s, California Rural Legal Assistance contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seeking to have the U.S. federal government come to the aid of female farmworkers in California’s central valley. For years, these women had been the victims of a barrage of sexual harassment, ranging from groping and propositions to forced sex in the “field de calzon” or “field of panties,” so named because “so many supervisors raped women there.”¹ The question posed for all concerned was what, if anything, did the federal antidiscrimination laws offer this group of women, given their particular situation and concerns. This chapter examines...

    • Caribbean Women, Domestic Labor, and the Politics of Transnational Migration
      (pp. 116-133)
      CAROLE BOYCE DAVIES

      The large-scale migration of Caribbean people to the United States from the 1960s onward is a visible identification of the presence of U.S. imperialism, in much the same way that the migration to the United Kingdom in the immediate pre-independence period (1940s–1960s) was a formal manifestation of access to the seat of the Euro-colonial empire. Ransford Palmer identifies “the emigration in search of job opportunities . . . as an enduring feature of the economic history of the region” and linked to various capital flows between the United States and the Caribbean.¹ The migration of Caribbean women within the...

    • Creatively Coping with Crisis and Globalization: ZIMBABWEAN BUSINESSWOMEN IN CROCHETING AND KNITTING
      (pp. 134-158)
      MARY JOHNSON OSIRIM

      Work is central to the lives and identities of sub-Saharan African women. During the past two decades, social science research on gender and work in sub-Saharan Africa has grown exponentially.¹ Feminist social scientists on both sides of the Atlantic have played a critical role in examining women’s status in labor markets throughout the continent, the diversity of tasks in which they are engaged, as well as the gender stratification that persists in nearly all sectors of the economy in African states. Over the past decade, most studies of African women and work by gender researchers have focused on women’s participation...

  7. Part III Surviving the Global Economy

    • Of Land and Sea: WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN NEGRIL, JAMAICA
      (pp. 161-181)
      A. LYNN BOLLES

      Jamaica’s colonial motto, “the island, the land of wood and water,” hardly describes the incomparable beauty of the island. Nevertheless, those two primary elements, wood and water, still describe this country now in terms of its tourist industry. Tourism is the largest source of revenue for this island nation. Wood no longer refers to lumber but instead to land packages, sightseeing, and services. The sources of water now focus on Dun’s River Falls, the sea, sea views, beaches, and water sports. There are many business opportunities on land and sea, with many ways of making a living for Jamaicans, especially...

    • “My Cocoa Is between My Legs”: SEX AS WORK AMONG GHANAIAN WOMEN
      (pp. 182-205)
      AKOSUA ADOMAKO AMPOFO

      Historically, in the country known today as Ghana, women had a variety of gender scripts available to them that were complementary to those of men, and they played important roles not only as mothers, sisters, wives, and queens, but also as chiefs, rulers, counselors, and spiritual authorities. Further, because women and men remained members of their respective lineages after marriage, they retained responsibilities to these lineages that implied a level of autonomy, especially in the acquisition of property. Of the Asante state, Wilks has described the sixteenth century as a time of great ancestresses and argued that oral traditions privileged...

    • Work as a Duty and as a Joy: UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF WORK IN THE LIVES OF GHANAIAN FEMALE TRADERS OF GLOBAL CONSUMER ITEMS
      (pp. 206-220)
      AKOSUA K. DARKWAH

      Written records from visitors to the then Gold Coast in the nineteenth century, many of whom were European, noted the active role that women in the Gold Coast played in the public sphere. Coming themselves from a Victorian background where ladies were supposed to stay at home and see to the domestic needs of the family, these writers must have been struck by the fact that in Ghana quite the contrary perspective existed; women were expected to take on responsibilities in both the domestic and the public sphere. Work in the public sphere for women of that time period was...

    • Gendering Sugar: WOMEN’S DISEMPOWERMENT IN SRI LANKAN SUGAR PRODUCTION
      (pp. 221-246)
      NANDINI GUNEWARDENA

      As one of the world’s first transnational commodities, sugar has the indubious distinction of holding a place in the political economy of global production and consumption as one that has fueled subordination, servitude, and impoverishment. The valuation of sugar as “white gold” destined to satisfy the consumption desires of a privileged few epitomizes its place in building imperialist modes of power, domination, and subjugation, deployed historically dating back to the colonial era in both the Americas and the Old World (East Africa, Asia, and the Pacific). After all, it was the consumer desire for sugar in Europe and the massive...

  8. List of Contributors
    (pp. 247-252)
  9. Index
    (pp. 253-266)