This book is an analysis of the dialectic of women’s labour and the processes of capital accumulation in Asian economies — an analysis that blends empirical research with theoretical reflections.

Indeed, one of the book’s stated aims is to examine the relationship between Marxist political and economic theories with feminism, and the author offers theoretical corrections — based on empirical data — to Marx’s and Proudhon’s theories on women’s labour and on women’s roles in society.

In this enterprise the author enlists the help of feminist theoreticians of women’s labour, especially those belonging to the so-called ‘German Feminist School’, although he is, at places, critical of them as well.
The volume participates, therefore, in the discourse around feminist (re-)interpretations of classical Marxism and is pertinent to scholarship on both theoretical disciplines.

In the garment industry
Part 2 presents descriptive and analytical studies of ‘the industrial work of women in India and Bangladesh’, focusing on women labourers in the garment industries in West Bengal in India and in Bangladesh.
While women workers in Bangladesh partake of ‘wage slavery’ in factories, their counterparts in Bengal work out of home. And this provides the context for another discussion of the ‘Thesis of Housewifization’ advanced by the German Feminist School at the end of the section.

Part 3 analyses ‘women’s role as agricultural producers’. The first chapter is typical of the way the book blends theory with field research and case studies: it looks at the actual conditions of peasant women’s labour in Bangladesh in the light of ‘developmental feminism’.
The second and third chapters, however, are wholly theoretical, considering as they do first the ‘ecofeminist debate in India’, especially Vandana Shiva’s contribution to this discourse, and then, the German Feminist School’s thesis of ‘subsistence labour’.

Part 4 is given over to ‘Japanization and women’s labour’. The first chapter compares the Japanese style of management of labour with Fordism; however, the highlight of the section is the second chapter on Japanese women as a ‘vast reserve army of labour’—a chapter that discourses on the concept of surplus reserve labour under capitalism.
The third chapter is a ‘Conclusion’ to the whole book and summarises Custers’ understanding of capital accumulation in contemporary Asia.
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