Beyoncé’s Anthropology of Labour

Culture and Capitalism

by Rebecca Prentice

Last Sunday, the headline screamed: “Exposed: Sweatshop ‘Slaves’ Earning Just 44p an Hour Making ‘Empowering’ Beyoncé Clobber.” British tabloid newspaper The Sun claimed that Beyoncé Knowles’ activewear clothing line, Ivy Park (with Topshop), was made in Sri Lankan sweatshops, where workers earn just £4.30 ($6.19) a day.

Copycat news articles soon followed:  “Beyoncé’s Seamstresses ‘Paid Slave Wages,’” “Beyoncé’s Ivy Park Topshop Clothing Range ‘Made In Sweatshops,’” “Beyoncé’s Ivy Park Accused of Paying Factory Workers 63 Cents Per Hour.” Workers producing the Ivy Park clothing line were described as working long days, for low wages, living in boarding houses with few amenities and restrictions on their day-to-day mobility—which collectively amount to “a form of sweatshop slavery” according to Jakub Sobik at Anti-Slavery International.

Is it true? Is Ivy Park being made in slavery-like conditions half a world away? Given Beyoncé’s avowed feminism and…

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