Global Work, Surplus Labor, and the Precarious Economies of the Border
Article first published online: 1 JUN 2011
© 2011 The Authors Antipode © 2011 Editorial Board of Antipode.
Special Issue: Bio(necro)polis: Marx, Surplus Populations, and the Spatial Dialectics of Reproduction and ‘Race’
Volume 43, Issue 5, pages 1598–1624, November 2011
How to Cite
Arnold, D. and Pickles, J. (2011), Global Work, Surplus Labor, and the Precarious Economies of the Border. Antipode, 43: 1598–1624. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2011.00899.x
- Issue published online: 12 OCT 2011
- Article first published online: 1 JUN 2011
- precarious labor;
- Greater Mekong Subregion;
- Mae Sot;
- border industrial zones;
- textile and garment industry
Abstract: This paper focuses on the recent emergence of regional production networks and border industrial zones, the labor migrations they are generating, and their consequences for “surplus populations” in the Greater Mekong Subregion (mainland Southeast Asia). In this region the textile and garment industry is employing increasing numbers of workers in border areas on flexible and highly precarious work “contracts”. To understand these emergent labor formations we focus on three scales of analysis through a case study from the Thailand–Burma border. We focus on initiatives led by the Asia Development Bank, accompanying subregional political groupings which aim to facilitate capital flows and trade by reducing transaction time and cost, and a case study of labor recruitment and employment practices in one border town. In examining these three scales, we question the value of characterizing such trans-national, state-led, authoritarian, and racialized labor formations as neoliberal.