Tereza Kuldova is a social anthropologist and senior researcher based at the Work Research Institute, Oslo Metropolitan University. She is the author of, among others, How Outlaws Win Friends and Influence People (Palgrave, 2019), Luxury Indian Fashion: A Social Critique (Bloomsbury, 2016), editor of Crime, Harm and Consumerism (Routledge, 2020), Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs and Street Gangs: Scheming Legality, Resisting Criminalization (Palgrave, 2018), Urban Utopias: Excess and Expulsion in Neoliberal South Asia (Palgrave, 2017), and Fashion India: Spectacular Capitalism (Akademika Publishing, 2013). She has written extensively on topics ranging from fashion, design, aesthetics, branding, intellectual property rights, nationalism, philanthropy, India, to outlaw motorcycle clubs, subcultures, and organized crime. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Extreme Anthropology and of the Extreme Anthropology Research Network; in 2020 she has founded the Algorithmic Governance: Research Network. For more information, please visit: www.tereza-kuldova.com.
On the Insubordinations of Female Workers in the Indian Luxury Fashion Industry
Luxury forces us to think beyond luxury brands, goods, and commodified experiences, pushing us toward fundamental questions about what constitutes a good life, morality, and social order. Through an ethnographic case, grounded in long-term fieldwork among producers of luxurious embroideries in Lucknow, India, this paper shows how structural violence goes hand-in-hand with paradoxical luxuries facilitated by fatalist attitudes. It zooms in on women embroidering luxury pieces for high-end fashion shows and celebrities, who are fed meritocratic dreams of individual progress by fashion designers and nongovernmental organizations that
try to convince them to work ever harder in the name of empowerment. But the women laugh at luxury goods, designers, and middle-class activists. Instead, they insist on an anti-work ethic and valorization of leisuret hat is tied to hierarchical inequality and social fatalism reinvigorated by competitive inequality and neoliberalism.