Temporality, Migration and Unfree Labour: Migrant Garment Workers

Tanja Bastia, Siobhan McGrath

Research output: Working paper


This paper engages with current debates on unfree labour, migration and development through the experiences of Bolivian migrant workers in the garment sectors in Buenos Aires and São Paulo. We find evidence of unfreedoms some of which may be classified as trafficking or ‘modern slavery’. However, we suggest that such descriptions overlook temporality. We find that workers suffer a time-delimited period of unfreedom. Some are able to accomplish their goals, their accomplishments serving as an example for others in unfree labour. We therefore suggest that temporality sheds light on the resolutions of cases of unfreedom as well as why workers accept exploitative working conditions. We also consider migrant workers’ negotiations over acceptable and fair conditions, particularly over food.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationManchester
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Publication series

NameManchester Papers in Political Economy
PublisherUniversity of Manchester

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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