“Our Industry Follows Poverty” (Planet Money T-Shirt) (NPR)

cotton cotton2

NPR’s Planet Money is running a multi-part series following the production of a t-shirt, from Alabama where the cotton is grown to Indonesia where it’s spun into thread, to Bangladesh and Columbia where the shirts are assembled, back to Miami where the shirts are sold, and then to Africa after the shirt has been given to Goodwill. The series follows the life and after life of a market good and the lives of the people whose labor contributes to its production. As one owner of a factory admits, the garment industry is an “industry that follows poverty.”  The political morality of the story is not so clear cut. Touching upon globalizaiton, market economies, commodities and production, labor, and life histories, the series suggests that global capitalism is a relative thing, lifting people out of poverty by exploiting their labor, and then moving on when the labor is too expensive. The most important part of the story are the life-histories, the stories people tell about their lives. The people come across not trapped as victims to a global catastrophe, but as ordinary women and men who negotiate the complex human and social realities of an unequal economic order. You can find the series here at the NPR website, which is, alas poorly designed  and difficult to navigate. 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply