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Fabricating Transnational Capitalism: A Collaborative Ethnography of Italian-Chinese Global Fashion

Lisa Rofel
Sylvia J. Yanagisako

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Publication date:
27 January 2019

Short description: 

In this innovative collaborative ethnography of Italian-Chinese ventures in the fashion industry, Lisa Rofel and Sylvia J. Yanagisako offer a new methodology for studying transnational capitalism. Drawing on their respective linguistic and regional areas of expertise, Rofel and Yanagisako show how different historical legacies of capital, labor, nation, and kinship are crucial in the formation of global capitalism. Focusing on how Italian fashion is manufactured, distributed, and marketed by Italian-Chinese ventures and how their relationships have been complicated by China's emergence as a market for luxury goods, the authors illuminate the often-overlooked processes that produce transnational capitalism—including privatization, negotiation of labor value, rearrangement of accumulation, reconfiguration of kinship, and outsourcing of inequality. In so doing, Fabricating Transnational Capitalism reveals the crucial role of the state and the shifting power relations between nations in shaping the ideas and practices of the Italian and Chinese partners.


Table of contents: 

Foreword / Robert J. Foster vii
Acknowledgments xi
Introduction 1
I. The Negotiation of Value 35
1. Negotiating Managerial Labor Power and Value / Lisa Rofel and Sylvia J. Yanagisako 43
II. Historical Legacies and Revisionist Histories 109
2. The (Re-)Emergence of Entrepreneurialism in Postsocialist China / Lisa Rofel 119
3. Italian Legacies of Capital and Labor / Sylvia Yanagisako 161
4. One Fashion, Two Nations: Italian-Chinese Collaborations / Simona Segre Reinach 190
III. Kinship and Transnational Capitalism 217
5. On Generation / Sylvia Yanagisako 227
6. The Reappearance and Elusiveness of Chinese Family Firms / Lisa Rofel 264
Conclusion 303
Appendix: Four Types of Collaboration between Chinese and Italian Firms 313
Notes 319
References 345
Index 363


Lisa Rofel is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture, also published by Duke University Press.

Sylvia J. Yanagisako is Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies and Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University and author of Producing Culture and Capital: Family Firms in Italy.




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