The Song of the Shirt: The High Price of Cheap Garments, from Blackburn to Bangladesh (Paperback)
  • The Song of the Shirt: The High Price of Cheap Garments, from Blackburn to Bangladesh (Paperback)
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The Song of the Shirt: The High Price of Cheap Garments, from Blackburn to Bangladesh (Paperback)

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Paperback 288 Pages / Published: 01/04/2015
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Oh, Men, with Sisters dear! Oh, Men, with Mothers and Wives! It is not linen you re wearing out, But human creatures lives! Stitch stitch stitch, In poverty, hunger and dirt, Sewing at once, with a double thread, A Shroud as well as a Shirt. --from The Song of the Shirt by Thomas Hood (1843) Labour in Bangladesh flows like its rivers -- in excess of what is required. Often, both take a huge toll. Labour that costs $1.66 an hour in China and 52 cents in India can be had for a song in Bangladesh -- 18 cents. It is mostly women and children working in fragile, flammable buildings who bring in 70 per cent of the country s foreign exchange. Bangladesh today does not clothe the nakedness of the world, but provides it with limitless cheap garments -- through Primark, Walmart, Benetton, Gap. In elegiac prose, Jeremy Seabrook dwells upon the disproportionate sacrifices demanded by the manufacture of such throwaway items as baseball caps. He shows us how Bengal and Lancashire offer mirror images of impoverishment and affluence. In the eighteenth century, the people of Bengal were dispossessed of ancient skills and the workers of Lancashire forced into labour settlements.In a ghostly replay of traffic in the other direction, the decline of the British textile industry coincided with Bangladesh becoming one of the world s major clothing exporters. With capital becoming more protean than ever, it wouldn t be long before the global imperium readies to shift its sites of exploitation in its nomadic cultivation of profit.

Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9781849045223
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 386 g
Dimensions: 217 x 139 x 24 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'Few writers are at once as lyrical or as precise about the living conditions of peasants and indigents. Seabrook's clear-eyed accounts of the immiseration as well as the dreams of young Bangladeshis are informed by extended conversations with scholars and activists, as well as historical research. ... What makes The Song of the Shirt especially important is its historical consciousness. ... Seabrook draws out the social, economic and imaginative parallels that connected, across decades and continents, Europe's and Asia s poor. ... Seabrook has established himself as perhaps Britain's finest anatomist of class, deindustrialisation, migration and the spiritual consequences of neoliberalism. The Song of the Shirt may well be his masterpiece.' * The Guardian *
'Stitches together history, folklore and hundreds of encounters with individual Bangladeshis to give a thorough picture of the structural injustices that have led to the present situation.' * The New Statesman *
'The sweat and blood of Bangladeshi garment workers is woven into the very fabric of our daily lives. Seabrook, as he always has, delivers a brilliantly written jeremiad with an urgent moral message.' * Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums *
'At once illuminating, deeply absorbing, and sobering, this is an ode to the rags of humanity the labourers, young and old who sometimes perish in order to create our fashionably casual clothes. It's written by one who has long been intimate with this part of the world and its anonymous dwellers, and who has responded always with passion and eloquence.' * Amit Chaudhuri, author of Calcutta: Two Years in the City *

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