Friday, February 09, 2007

Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective

For over a century, the sweatshop has evoked outrage and moral repugnance. Once cast as a type of dangerous and immoral garment factory brought to American shores by European immigrants, today the sweatshop is reviled as emblematic of the abuses of an unregulated global economy. This collection unites some of the best recent work in the interdisciplinary field of "sweatshop studies." It examines changing understandings of the roots and problems of the sweatshop, and explores how the history of the American sweatshop is inexorably intertwined with global migration of capital, labor, ideas and goods. The American sweatshop may be located abroad but remains bound to the United States through ties of fashion, politics, labor and economics. The global character of the American sweatshop has presented a barrier to unionization and regulation. Anti-sweatshop campaigns have often focused on local organizing and national regulation while the sweatshop remains global. Thus, the epitaph for the sweatshop has frequently been written and re-written by unionists, reformers, activists and politicians. So, too, have they mourned its return.

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