Winner of the 2017 Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) — Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize
The prize committee is delighted to announce that Samanthi Gunawardana’s article ‘“To Finish, We Must Finish”: Everyday Practices of Depletion in Sri Lankan Export-Processing Zones”, published in Globalizations, has been voted the winner of the 2017 Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize. Contributing important work to debates in social reproduction theory, as well as transcending the ongoing prevalence of conventional (and poor) measurements of economic ‘productivity’ within political economy, this article offers an insightful, ethnographically-minded approach to the relationship between social reproduction and the market economy. Gunawardana’s article delivers a significant analysis of women’s disposability as part of wider systems of capitalist, gendered exploitation, and how global economic restructuring is itself a racialised and gendered project, reproduced through the depletion of social reproduction and minority women’s labour in particular. Producing a compelling argument in a relatively new, but growing, area of research, Gunawardana’s article challenges the reader, empirically and theoretically, to take seriously the productive conditioning of women’s bodies, their labour and wellbeing. The study is based on the extended case method of ethnography in relation to export-processing zones in Sri Lanka—with over ten years of fieldwork—while also signalling how the processes of gendered depletion of labour are endemic to economic value creation. Soaked in the labour of value creation, feminised work is revealed as a process of depletion as well as a pervasive form of harm. As Gunawardana powerfully states in her argument, ‘time spent in the factory reduces the time available for engagement in collective organising’, especially given that, ‘workers laboured until they were depleted’. The panel wants especially to congratulate Samanthi Gunawardana on receiving the award of the 2017 AIPEN Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize and hopes that this spotlight will encourage further research in this area as part of the interdisciplinary enterprise that is political economy.
2017 Samanthi J. Gunawardana, ‘“To Finish, We Must Finish”: Everyday Practices of Depletion in Sri Lankan Export-Processing Zones”, Globalizations, 13:6 (2016).
2016 Gareth Bryant, Siddhartha Dabhi and Steffen Böhm, ‘“Fixing” the Climate Crisis: Capital, States and Carbon Offsetting in India’, Environment and Planning A, 47:10 (2015).
2015 Ainsley Elbra, ‘Interests Need Not be Pursued If They Can be Created: Private Governance in African Gold Mining’, Business and Politics, 16:2 (2014).