Manipulating Capital: Former Garment Factory Workers Negotiating New Lives in Sri Lanka’s Villages by Dr. Sandya Hewamanne

The Social Scientists’ Association hosted Dr. Sandya Hewamanne who made a presentation on Manipulating Capital: Former Garment Factory Workers Negotiating New Lives in Sri Lanka’s Villages on Tuesday the 10th of June, 2014 at 4.00pm at the SSA.


This talk focused on how former factory workers negotiate new identities in villages as new brides, mothers and daughters-in-law after 5-6 years of employment in an urban Free Trade Zone.  She argued that their performances of self-discipline and disavowal of transgressive knowledges allow them to make use of the limited social, economic, and political spaces available while gradually reshaping local understandings about the good daughter-in-law.  These former workers’ creative manipulation of varied forms of capital– symbolic, social and monetary—is one of the reasons behind the emergence of new social status markers and novel forms of disparities among groups of people within villages.

Sandya Hewamanne is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Wake Forest University. She will be starting a year research position at Cornell University from Fall 2014.  She received her BA in Sociology from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and her MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of Stitching Identities in a Free Trade Zone: Gender and Politics in Sri Lanka (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2008).  She has also published a number of peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Ethnology, Social Text, Identities, Feminist Studies, Cultural Dynamics and Anthropology of Work Review.  Her research interests include globalization, identity, cultural politics and feminist and post colonial theory. She has previously taught at University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and at Drake University.