The rapid urbanization and industrialization of Katunayake resulting from transnational production at the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and related globalized sociocultural flows affected the lived experiences of citizens in this new urban space in varied ways. The vast majority of FTZ workers are rural to urban migrant women. Consequently, neighbors reinvented themselves as moral guardians of these new arrivals while many agents and institutions, including the media and NGOs, got involved in spatial and conceptual production of the new city and its gendered citizen subjects. This essay explores the fragmented production of the gendered and classed subjects within this transnational space and how FTZ women workers responded to this by negotiating an identity that challenged the particular subjectivity that middle-class and capitalist narratives imposed on them. The essay focuses on how workers engaged in oppositional cultural practices and created and participated in gendered public spaces.
This article analyzes the new spaces and cultural practices to delineate the gender and class critique and asserts that the women's performances in public spaces conveyed a specific migrant FTZ garment workers identity that registered their differences from men, other women, and their counterparts in other working-class spheres. Although they participated in politics of citizenship by registering difference, their transgressive practices evidenced acquiescence to different hegemonic influences, especially capitalist hegemony. Ultimately, these women's experiences indicate how the transnational flows of ideas and resources shape responses to marginalization in ways that discourage transformational politics.