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Abstract

The paper analyses the discursive construction of the gender division of labour in machinemade jewellery production in the Noida Export Processing Zone (NEPZ), India. It examines the construction of gendered subjectivities of women and men in investing in the discourses about their work. Men constitute their masculine subjectivities by investing in the discourses around their work in master making, casting, and polishing as ‘skilled’ and ‘tough’. Women’s subjectivities are fragmented in that though they invest in the discourses constructing their work in wax and quality control sections as ‘light’, requiring ‘eye for detail’ and ‘patience’, they present disruption to the construction of their work and their identities as ‘unskilled’. By challenging their discursive construction as ‘unskilled’ they negotiate and interrupt the power structures or what Ong (1991: 297) calls ‘expand the space of political struggle in their everyday lives’.

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