Fraternal Capital

Fraternal Capital

Product ID: 13572

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Author: Sharad Chari
Publisher: Permanent Black
Year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 379
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8178240890


Fraternal Capital examines class, gender and work in Tiruppur, South India, where the export of knitted garments has been led by a networked fraternity of owners of working-class and Gounder-caste origins, who explain their class mobility as hinging on their toil. This book asks how these self-made men drew from their agrarian past to turn Gounder toil into capital, and how they continue to make an entire town work for the global economy.

By questioning processes of economic development alongside the self-presentations of a caste of good entrepreneurs, this book decentres our understanding of global capitalism, linking agrarian transition with the translation of a singular past.

As Tiruppur shifts to global production, this book tracks ways in which gender links sexed for consent to an increasingly despotic work politics. Tiruppur demonstrates the importance of gender and geography to the globalization of capital as it affects the lives of working people in provincial India, as elsewhere. Fraternal Capital provides a window into the globalization of capital that shows how history, geography, gender and work shape local sites of global production.

This book will interest geographers, anthropologists, historians, sociologists, as well as readers interested in labour, gender, Indian development, and the cultural and political economy of globalization in the South.


The boom fashion-town of Tiruppur in South India has attracted intellectual as well as manual workers. In the boom in scholarly literature, Sharad Chari's meticulous ethnography is outstanding. It relates industrial accumulation to the agrarian origins, not just of capital but also of the labour process and elaborates a peasant-worker route to accumulation. It also reveals the way culture shapes work and work shapes culture. These are not just major contributions to our knowledge of clusters and industrial districts; they are also very useful contributions to the critical understanding of globalized capital.
-Barbara Harriss-White
Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University

Fraternal Capital is an exemplary study of the paradoxical formation of a class of peasant-workers in urban South India who drew on their agrarian past to fashion themselves as a community of fraternal capitalists. Sharad Chari examines this process genetically, revealing how the labor that produced this transformation is the synthesis of multiple relations, and embodies the history of these relations. He brilliantly illuminates this history by weaving together its complex strands, linking town and country, individuals and communities, local and world markets, past and present. Through Chari's caring intellectual labour, this capitalism appears as intimately fraternal and yet as violently divisive, as unusually distinct and yet as uncannily familiar, its singularity showing how the global history of capital is also always provincial.
-Fernando Coronil
Anthropology and History Departments, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Rather than explaining capital accumulation as a consequence of global and national shifts, Fraternal Capital explores the agrarian and proletarian origins of the fraternity of decentred capital in Tiruppur. Sharad Chari's marvellously insightful and original analysis shows how gendered hegemony functions in networks of small firms to convert Gounder toil into global capital, to make Tiruppur a centerpiece of globalization in provincial India. This book challenges dominant paradigms of development and late industrialization, transcending several disciplinary boundaries to provide a fascinating account of gender and capital in provincial India.
-Padmini Swaminathan
Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, India



Maps and Figures


Note on Transliteration

Preface: A Tale of Banians, Toil, and Miracles


Introduction: A Worker Path to Capital?


Social Labor, or How a Town Works

Accumulation Strategies and Gounder Dominance


Agrarian and Colonial Questions

Can the Subaltern Accumulate Capital?

Gender Fetishisms and Shifting Hegemonies

Conclusion: Globalizing the Moffusils

Epilogue: Gounders in the Third Italy

Appendix 1

Appendix 2