Category: Factory Reloaded

Based on recent historical, anthropological, and sociological work, this series explores new methodological perspectives on factories. As a group of interdisciplinary scholars focusing on factories in various geographical regions in the contexts of both early and late industrialisation, we seek to open a conversation on the question of space and scale by looking at the ways in which the shifting political-economic regimes and macro-political developments at the national and global levels interact with shop floor dynamics. The contributions of the series address a variety of questions and themes including, but not limited to, the production of class, gender, and race-based difference on the shop floor, transnational working-class militancy, circulation of managerial expertise, and cultural imaginaries of factories and factory work.

The series “Factory Reloaded” is edited by Görkem Akgöz, Nurcin Ileri, and Malak Labib. It originally started as a workshop to be held in May 2020 but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The series is the result of an alternative form of scholarly collaboration established by the Forum Transregionale Studien, using virtual forms of exchange via the TrafoHub – a collaborative internal platform – and a procedure of collective peer review steered by the editors of the series.

Keeping the Wheels Turning at all Costs: Factories as COVID-19 Clusters – Interview with Aslı Odman

Recently, business have been trying hard to refute the role of the manufacturing sector as a main contributor of COVID-19 cases. In this conversation, Aslı Odman, an instructor at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, and a founding member and volunteer at Istanbul Health and Safety Labor Watch, discusses the socio-spatial inequalities triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic in industrial workspaces on both local and global scales.

Of ‘nimble fingers’ and ‘jacquard’s soldiers’: Up-scaling, Up-skilling, and the Re-masculinization of Labor in Bangladesh’s Garment Industry

By Christian Strümpell and Hasan Ashraf. Bangladesh is widely known as having rapidly grown into one of the world’s major producers of ready-made garments. In 1978, it counted 9 factories; in 1985, their number stood at 598; and in 1996 at 2,353.

Nationalism on the Shop Floor: The Silahtarağa Electric Power Plant in the Early 1920s

By Nurçin İleri. In January 1936, İzzettin Muhittin Apak, a journalist from Akşam Postası (Evening Post) decided to visit the Silahtarağa Electrical Power Plant, the main electric power supplier of Istanbul, a city with a population of 900,000. What most attracted Apak’s attention was the hospital-like cleanliness of the power plant, and that almost everything was being automated in this vast industrial place.

Re-shaping the “Socialist Factory” in Egypt in the Late 1960s–1970s

By Malak Labib. In January 2021, the Egyptian government decided on the liquidation of the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company, one of the country’s oldest public-sector enterprises. While officials pointed to the company’s accumulated losses and its deteriorating production capacity, the decision was met with wide opposition.

Training as a Gatekeeper at the Indo-German Factory

By Josefine Carla Hoffmann. Vocational education and training was an important part of Indo-German technical collaboration from the mid-1950s onwards. Companies and other institutions all over India collaborated with the West German state and its companies, rhetorically stressing the priority of skilling the workforce, amongst other things.

“The Pictures Are the Thing”: Farm Security Administration Photographers Document the American Factory in the Depression Era

By Rick Halpern. The 1930s were a formative period for documentary photography in the United States. The twin phenomena of the Great Depression and the emergence of a militant workers’ movement gave photographers interested in the working class a surfeit of material to shoot.

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