Stitching the 24-Hour City reveals the intense speed of garment production and everyday life in Dongdaemun, a lively market in Seoul, South Korea. Once the site of uprisings against oppressive working conditions in the 1970s and 80s, Dongdaemun has now become iconic for its creative economy, nightlife, and fast-fashion factories, and shopping plazas. Seo Young Park follows the work of people who witnessed and experienced the rapidly changing marketplace from the inside. Through this approach, Park examines the meanings and politics of work, focusing on what it takes for people to enable speedy production and circulation and also how they incorporate the critique of speed in the ways they make sense of their own work.
The talk provides in-depth ethnographic accounts of the garment designers, workers, and traders who sustain the extraordinary speed of fast fashion production and circulation, as well as the labor activists who challenge it. Attending to their narratives and practices of work, Park argues that speed is, rather than a singular drive of acceleration, an entanglement of uneven paces and cycles of life, labor, the market, and the city itself. Stitching the 24-Hour City exposes the understudied experiences with Dongdaemun fast fashion, peeling back layers of temporal politics of labor and urban space to record the human source of the speed that characterizes the never-ending movement of the twenty-four-hour city.
Seo Young Park is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Scripps College.
This event is co-sponsored by the East Asian Studies Center.