Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia / Edition 1

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In the two decades since its original publication, Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline has become an ethnographic classic in the fields of anthropology, labor studies, and gender and globalization studies. Based on anthropological field work in an agricultural district in Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia, Spirits of Resistance captures a moment of profound transformation, illustrated by the disruptions, conflicts, and ambivalences in the lives of Malay women during the rapid industrialization associated with Malaysia's rise as a tiger economy. Aihwa Ong's nuanced approach to the Malay women factory workers' experiences of the contradictions of modern globalized capitalism has inspired subsequent generations of feminist ethnographers in their explorations of key questions of power, resistance, femininities, religious community, and social change. With a new critical introduction by anthropologist Carla Freeman, this new edition of Spirits of Resistance continues to offer an exemplary model of sophisticated analysis of culturally based resistance to the ideology, surveillance, and institutional authority of globalized corporate capitalism.

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What People Are Saying

Carla Freeman

This work ... remains powerful for its refusal to over-simplify the complexities of export industrialization as a model for economic development, and for its demonstration of the intimate dialectics of culture, economy, gender, religion, and class, and the meaningfulness of place amid the swirling forces of global capitalism ... [It] opened up many of the questions that should continue to inspire our analyses of globalization today. Indeed, these questions are equally compelling for the reader returning to this work after twenty years and for the reader new to this text and to the intriguing and complex puzzles of globalization. (from the Introduction by Carla Freeman)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887063817
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1987
  • Series: SUNY series in the Anthropology of Work Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Aihwa Ong is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her many books include Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality and Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty.

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

List of Tables, Maps and Diagrams


Part I Capitalist Development and Cultural Experience

1 Spirits and Discipline in Capitalist Transformation

2 Malay Peasants from Subsistence to Commodity Production

Rural Malay Society on the Eve of British Intervention

Colonial Rule: Malay Immigrants and Peasants

Constructing a "Malay Yeomanry"

Malay Peasants Under Colonialism: The View from Below

Part II The Kampung Society of Coastal Selangor

3 Tropical Confluences: Rural Society, Capital, and the State

A New Tropical Configuration: Kebun, Ladang, and Free Trade Zone

Rural Malays, Land Hunger, and Bureaucratic Capitalism

Administering Rural Development and Bureaucratic Culture

4 Sungai Jawa: Differentiation and Dispersal

Tanam Modal, Jual Tenaga: Planting Capital, Selling Labor Power

Emergent Class Structure

5 Domestic Relations: The Reconfiguration of Family Life

Families, Spirits, and Other Familiars

Boys and Girls: Schooling for Success

Daughters and Sons: Cooperation and Conflict

The Fractured Day

6 Marriage Strategies: Negotiating the Future

Marriage Strategies of Earlier Generations

Marriage Strategies and the Commodity Logic

Delayed Marriages and Sexual Images

Part III Neophyte Factory Women in Late Capitalism

7 The Modern Corporation: Manufacturing Gender Hierarchy

Capitalist Discipline and Cultural Discourse

The State, Export-Industrialization, and Cultural Models

Japanese Corporations in Kuala Langat

8 Neophyte Factory Women and the Negative Image

Sexual Metaphors and Social Control

The Kampung and the World

9 Spirits of Resistance

A New Subjectivity

Unleased Spirits: The World Decentered

10 Conclusion





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