Global Gender Regimes

Gender and IPE in the Global South


Based on Enloe chapters on Nationalism and Masculinity, Blue Jeans and Bankers, Bananas and Banana Republics


Topics:  Colonialism, Imperialism, Nationalism, Militarism, Banana Republics, neo-liberalism, export-oriented development, EPZs


Colonialism - define













    a system of relations between two nation-states, regions,or territories

    characterized by asymmetries of economic and political power

    generally accompanied by some form of direct political administration

    and with capital flowing in the direction of the more powerful,
    more developed country or region

a large part of the answer to the question of why is the “west” (north) is wealthier and more developed that the global south




     Same dynamics

     From root word “empire”


Motives for colonialism/imperialism







     Demographic:  Population pressures in homeland, seek safety valve for surplus population

     Socio-cultural:  Conversion (religious), “Civilizing” mission

     Economic:  Wealth appropriation, resource extraction

     Strategic:  power, prestige

     Personal:  adventure, to escape



For most of you Banana Republic is a place to buy an interview or vacation outfit

Deconstruct the store’s image – what are they selling?




What is a Banana Republic, in the political sense?

Enloe: used derisively to describe

countries whose land and soul are in the clutches of a foreign company, supported by the might of its own government.  A banana republic’s sovereignty has been so thoroughly compromised that it is the butt of jokes... .  Because it is impossible for such compromised rulers to win the support of their own citizens, many of whom are exploited on the corporation’s plantations, the government depends on guns and jails, not ballots and national pride” (133)


Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, 2011


Dictatorship common, in conjunction with support of military
– elections – less than free and fair, lack of political competition
strong ties between political (economic) elites and military

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 5.0

Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin, film about:  The Last King of Scotland



Enloe describes, the ultimate expression of machismo

Pervades Western society, too





Source of these “traditions”???

Machismo and private sphere, domestic violence

History of region – colonialism in Latin America: Spain, Portugal, Conquistadors, Catholic Church; in Africa: patriarchy enhanced, supported by Christian missionaries


Enloe stresses “chilvary” and protection of colonial women as hallmarks of masculinity in British empire



Repercussions of Colonialism Today

     Need for democratization, state-building, nationalism

     Women’s roles in these movements


Enloe:  often suppressed by men in movement

Men in movements often see women as symbols of the nation, national purity, motherhood not as equals in building new societies

     Feminists in Tunisian Democratic Movements

     Sexual assaults on women at Tahrir Square

     Women Building Egyptian Democracy

     International Women’s Democracy Network

Class-divisions, Ethnic hierarchy, Economic Inequality, Neo-colonialism




Banana Industry as Example

Today, banana industry as Enloe describes it – neo-colonialism



TNCs –
United Fruit Company
United Brands
Chiquita (US based, monopoly control of bananas grown in Honduras, Costa Rica)


Plantation economies – based on gender and ethnically segregated labor
e.g. Panama – Ladino men superior to Amerindian men
men do machete wielding and heavy lifting
women pick, weed, clean and pack or can the produce, work in brothers, keep farm going at home
men intensive industries – bananas, sugar, palm oil
women intensive industries – coffee, tea


Note neo-colonial patterns noted on 132
US sources – Ecuador, Costa Rica, Honduras (Dole, Chiquita, Del Monte)
Germany – Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras
France – Martinique, Guadaloupe
UK – Windward Islands, Colombia, Suriname (Geest, Fyffes-United Brands subsid)
Italy – Colombia, CR, Somalia
Spain – Canary Islands
Japan – Philippines, China


Banana wars between the EU and US (really their respectively rooted TNCs) over access to European markets

Trade war eventually won in the WTO by the US




***What does the gendered political economy of your country look like?  What are your countries main agricultural products and food processing industries?  What roles do women play in these industries?







 “Light” Industry
traditionally: textiles, garment, food processing
now also:  electronics

Nature of the work:
Low paying, repetitive, noisy, often with very poor air quality.

Jobs segregated by gender even though women could perform most of the higher paying jobs performed by men

Common injuries/diseases suffered by women working in these industries:  hearing loss/deafness, lung ailments, repetitive motion disorders (“carpal tunnel syndrome”)

“Making Women’s Labor Cheap”
Cynthia Enloe,“Blue Jeans and Bankers,” Bananas, Bases and Beaches:  Making Feminist Sense of International Politics.  Berkeley: UC Press.

Enloe writes:
Definition of “skilled labor”:  the jobs that men do are described as skilled (e.g. in garment shops, cutting and pressing);

jobs that women do (sewing in garment shops, running spinning machines, weaving machines in textile plants) are labeled “unskilled”



The international economy works the way it does…in part because of the decisions which have cheapened the value of women’s work.

These decisions have first feminized certain home and workplace tasks—turning them into ‘women’s work’ – and then rationalized the devaluation of that work (Enloe, 160)

Without laws and cultural presumptions about sexuality, marriage and feminine respectability these transformations wouldn’t have been possible (160).



Number of workers by region

Bengali EPZs site

Baltimore Post Examiner story on Chittigong EPZ

Visit:  Global Sociology page



Arguments in Favor of Free Trade Zones
bring jobs and capital investment that would otherwise not be there
need to grow their way out of poverty

Guardian story weighing pros and cons of EPZs


Why Women?
Political Clout/Organization:

Women who work in light industry are less politically important constituencies, less “militant” that traditionally male industries (mining, auto workers)

Traditionally, they have been under-organized, not unionized


the gendered nature of international development, global economy:  the well-dressed male investment banker vs. the over-worked, poorly dressed female garment worker


Negative Impacts of EPZs

Global anti-sweatshop movement as a response

Rise site for justice for EPZ workers


Quakers working to improve working conditions in N Mexico 

Fair Trade Movement
Global Exchange
Nike Campaign
Nike Code of Conduct