For We Are Sold, I and My People: Women and Industry in Mexico's Frontier

For We Are Sold, I and My People: Women and Industry in Mexico's Frontier

For We Are Sold, I and My People: Women and Industry in Mexico's Frontier

For We Are Sold, I and My People: Women and Industry in Mexico's Frontier

Synopsis

On the basis of systematic research and personal experience, For We Are Sold, I and My People uncovers some of the social costs of modern production. Maria Patricia Fernandez-Kelly peels off the labels--"Made in Taiwan," "Assembled in Mexico"--and the trade names--RCA, Sony, General Motors, United Technologies, General Electric, Mattel, Chrysler, American Hospital Supply--to reveal the hidden human dimensions of present-day multinational manufacturing procedures.

Focusing on Cuidad Juarez, located at the United States-Mexican border, Fernandez-Kelly examines the reality of maquiladoras, the hundreds of assembly plants that since the 1960s have been used by the Mexican government as part of its development strategy. Most maquiladoras function as subsidiaries of large U.S.-based corporations and a majority of the employees are women. Drawing from current knowledge in political economy and anthropology, this study focuses on one common denominator of the international division of labor--a growing proletariat of Third World women exploited by what some experts are calling "the global assembly line."

Excerpt

Contemporary social science is characterized by an enthusiastic turn of interest toward political economy and world system analysis. Such a concern is at the same time a result of a generalized disenchantment with the explanatory powers of modernization theories and an intellectual counterpart of current economic, political and ideological changes operating at an international scale. Modernization and its anthropological equivalents, assimilation and acculturation, represented a theoretical view associated with a perception of the world in which independent nation-states were identified according to their degree of industrialization in a progress‐ oriented scale (O'Brien 1975, pp. 7-27). Comparisons arose to examine the forces which accounted for differences in development among the various components of the international mosaic. Within this framework, it was possible to entertain the notion of national autonomy and to initiate inquiries about the reasons that explained different levels of modernization in different countries.

With the appearance of the so-called dependentista school of thought and more recent critical structural perspectives which focus on underdevelopment, such a perception was severely shattered. The alternative provided was based on an understanding of the world as a web of historically related political and economic events, in which the underdevelopment of certain areas is viewed in inextricable relation with the development of others (Sunkel 1962; dos Santos 1970; Frank 1970; Cardoso and Faletto 1971; Furtado 1971; Amin 1974b). Modernization ceased to be the ideal to which most nations should aspire in order to be recognized as an ideological construction destined to legitimize the established international social order (Portes 1978; Cardoso 1977).

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