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Surveillance by another Name: The Modern Slavery Act, Global Factory Workers, and Part-time Sex Work in Sri Lanka.

Hewamanne, Sandya (2020) 'Surveillance by another Name: The Modern Slavery Act, Global Factory Workers, and Part-time Sex Work in Sri Lanka.' Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 45 (3). 653 - 677. ISSN 0097-9740

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Abstract

The intensified global movement against human trafficking saw the UK Government pass the Modern Slavery Act in 2015. Article 54 of the act specifically requires British companies to eradicate forced labor within their global supply chains. This essay investigates how the Modern Slavery Act affects workers at the ground level, specifically in Sri Lanka. It highlights how the onus of cleaning up supply chains was outsourced to local factory managers, who in turn placed the responsibility on workers’ shoulders, and how these developments impact a particular gray space that workers sometimes manipulate to engage in part-time sex work. The stigma surrounding factory work in some areas results in migrant workers being branded whores, and the resulting gray space is what part-time sex workers manipulate to manage their reputations. By investigating how workers play with identities and labels, this article analyzes how women navigate neoliberal aspirations and precarious, underpaid labor within competing local discourses. In doing so, the essay theorizes how gray spaces—such as the ones factory workers navigate—contain the potential for subversive politics, agency, and empowerment and how global legal narratives impinge on such spaces of play and thereby reenact old colonial power circuits even as they contribute to the imperialist character of globalized culture and policies. The essay contributes to an emerging literature on global citizen activism and highlights how resultant policies and practices may endanger complex, context-specific socioeconomic and cultural arrangements.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sri Lanka, Surveillance, Global Factory work, Sex work, Modern Slavery Act
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2019 11:08
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2020 22:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23396

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