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The ‘Good Girls’ of Sri Lankan Modernity: Moral Orders of Nationalism and Capitalism
  • Caitrin Lynch, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
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In the Sri Lankan garment industry the term “good girls” refers to moral character and industrial productivity: a good girl both embodies Sinhala Buddhist traditions and is an efficient and productive factory worker. The “good girl” concept symbolizes a conjuncture of nationalist and capitalist gender ideals during this time of ethnic conflict and industrial development in the country. Although the women workers agree with many of the gendered characterizations implied by the term “good girls,” they do not uncritically follow nationalist and capitalist moral scripts. Rather, they mobilize the good girl identity for advantages inside and outside the factory. This essay brings together an account of the ways in which gender is configured in relation to discourses of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and practices of capitalism in Sri Lanka with an analysis of how female village garment workers make these discourses and practices meaningful in their own lives.


© 1999 Taylor&Francis. This article was published in Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, vol. 6, iss. 1, pages 55-89 and may be found here.

Citation Information
Caitrin Lynch. "The ‘Good Girls’ of Sri Lankan Modernity: Moral Orders of Nationalism and Capitalism" (1999)
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