This project began with the aspiration to look at the maquiladora districts in Mexico as an example of the intricacies of gendered and global capitalist processes in action, both broadly through free trade agreements like NAFTA and more specifically as acted out on the bodies of the female labourers.  We began with two separate streams for the project: one that looked at the control over women’s bodies and their sexuality in the maquiladoras, and the other that investigated the Disappeared and the maquiladoras murders that have been occurring since 1993.  After some research, an article by Melissa Wright, “The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Maquiladoras,” struck as significantly important as it presented the idea of disposability as being intertwined in the processes of maquiladoras, both in terms of employment, but also in terms of the treatment of female maquiladora workers.  From this point, our research became increasingly intertwined until separating our initial streams from each other, as well as from broad global capitalist processes and ideologies, became inconceivable.

The more we read and discussed, the more ‘big name’ issues like globalization, capitalism, and NAFTA were seen to be enacted on the ‘local’ bodies of female maquiladora workers, both as malleable bodies, to be controlled and moulded into docile and dextrous factory labourers, and as disposable, whether as non-citizen, as labour, or as an ’empty’ life.  We saw ourselves caught in a ‘web’ of global processes that affected these women in concrete ways in their daily lives.

This is by no means a project that discounts activism that is being done on these issues, in Mexico and abroad.  It is not meant to limit the agency of the maquildora women; however, it is an attempt to bring what we have learned to a broad audience.  It can be viewed page-by-page or more cohesively, but ultimately it is meant to provide awareness.  It is also interactive, and the more that people engage with these issues and post up their own thoughts, research, and/or materials, the more these issues become visible.  Because they are visible: they are written on the bodies of women who have been found murdered; they are written on the crosses of the Disappeared that are scattered across maquiladora districts; and they are present globally.  Mexico is by no means the only place where global capitalist ideologies and processes are exhibited.  This is a global issue but we are confronted with it locally and daily.

So every time you dispose of your coffee cup, your ‘old’ jeans and shoes, or your ‘out-of-date’ computer and mobile phone, remember that this very act of disposing links you to the people who are producing these goods and who are disposable because of the world we live in.

~Caitlin & Stephanie