West Virginia University Historical Review


“Fast fashion” and “globalization,” often mentioned in the same sentence, make their way to the headlines fairly frequently. While the conditions of low-wage garment workers are a subject of criticism for clothing brands, few know of the active workers’ movement in Bangladesh to better them. This movement, often unorganized and violent, takes place against the backdrop of urban growth, rapid industrialization, and factory disaster. Riots and piecemeal wage negotiations often go hand in hand in Bangladesh, as the pressures of the world economy exert themselves on Bangladesh’s fragile and unstable garment industry. This paper examines the history and developments of these garment riots, with an added emphasis on urban growth and economic crisis. While examining the riots as responses to Bangladeshi circumstances, it places these riots in the wider context of neo-liberal globalization and the pauperization of industrial workers across the world. With this at hand, the paper then analyzes various global responses to these working conditions and the infamous Rana Plaza Disaster.

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