REBECCA J. PRENTICE, then a student at the University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom, was awarded a grant in January 2004 to aid research on 'Assembling Women: Risk, Injury and Embodiment in Trinidad's Export Garment Industry,' supervised by Dr. James R. Fairhead. Research examined the contemporary conditions of global garment production through an intimate case study of Trinidad's garment industry. During more than a year's residence in Trinidad, the grantee conducted participant observation inside Trinidad's various garment factories, tailors' shops, and sewing schools, in an attempt to trace the impact of shifting global trade regimes on the localized, personal experiences of workers on the shop floor. Specifically, she considered the cultural and material processes through which the body at work becomes both imagined and practiced, skill becomes 'dared for' and acquired, and workers participate in creating and resisting their work regimens. Among these bodily concerns, her research paid particular attention to workers' experiences of illness, injury, and pain. Examining such experiences - and the meaning that workers make of them - provides key insights into the material conditions of a highly feminized, ever-changing industry. Ultimately, the research hopes to demonstrate how Trinidad's historical position in the world economy, and the changing work regimens brought on by globalization and 'high-tech' shop floor mechanics, produce new experiences for workers that are deeply encoded in ideas about skill, balance, and the body. While this shop floor ethnography is concerned with local constructions of ethnicity, gender, and class subjectivity, the research has also entailed a richly woven study of contemporary life in the West Indies, including aspects of kinship, religion, crime and security, illness and healing, and day-to-day life in Port of Spain.
Prentice, Rebecca. 2012. 'Kidnapping Go Build Back We Economy': Discourse of Crime at Work in Neoliberal Trinidad. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(1):45-64.