1. What is the purpose of a book’s preface?
2. How and why did the author develop this book? How much time has elapsed between writing and research?
Introduction (Note: As I state in the preface, the narrative portion of this text could stand alone from this introduction, which is more theoretical in nature, depending on the level of the students.)
The introduction includes several sections, as follows:
• Anthropology, Ethnography, and Writing
• Gender and Factories
• Garment Factories in Morocco
• The Garment Girls of Fes
• Research Methods
1. In the introduction the author states her goals for the book. What are these goals?
2. Why has the author chosen the narrative style for this ethnography?
3. In what way do the book’s three sections – street, factory, home—correspond to divisions the girls themselves impose upon space? How does the factory/home dichotomy get used by theorists investigating the global factory?
4. Define (explain the meaning of) the following terms:
5. What are some of the issues that have been raised by theorists studying the work of girls and women in factories across the globe?
6. When did garment factories begin to open en masse and begin hiring women in Fes?
7. What is meant by the term “subcontracting”?
8. Describe the Fes factories – their size, ownership patterns, subcontracting relationships, etc.
9. Describe the conditions of work in Fes factories. To what extent did the factories heed local labor laws?
10. Who are the garment girls of Fes? Describe their age, educational status, family position, class status, etc.
11. What are the central values and expectations of Fes families regarding their daughters?
12. Describe the research methods that the author used.
1. Look at the map of Fes given here. Where are the Ville Nouvelle, the medina, the factory districts located relative to one another? Based on the author's descriptions, what are the differences between these particular sections of the city? Do a google search, looking for images of Fes, and these sections of the city in particular.
2. The director of the Fes Chamber of Commerce does not want the author to step inside a factory, although he agrees to allow her to view them from the outside. In your opinion, what is motivating him? Is Malik’s explanation sufficient?
3. What was the result of the strike of 1990, according to Abdul-Haq? Can the author assume his information is correct? Why or why not?
4. Haja and Fatima both advise the author not to return to the factory where she met them. In your opinion, why are they so certain the owner would not be happy with a repeat visit? Should the author listen to their advice? Why or why not?
5. At the start of the research, the author finds it difficult to get permission to enter factories. What actions does she take in an effort to meet workers? What research strategy would you try in this situation?
6. Why are so many workers hanging around the factory districts in the morning?
7. “As job hunters in an unpredictable job market, these young women were free from their family’s watchful eyes, enjoying an autonomy that would have been unimaginable had they not been forced to look for work.” (P.33) Some thinkers argue that factory work gives females increased autonomy. Based on what the author learns by speaking with workers in the streets, do you believe this is true? In what way does factory work free the girls from traditional constraints?
8. In what way does visiting a carpet factory give the author greater insight into the lives of the garment factory workers, the girls who are the focus of her study?
9. The owner of “Couture”, like Abdel-Haq, suspects that the author is an American spy. Given this, why do you think this owner allows the author to carry out her survey in his factory?
10. The owner of “Couture” tricks the workers into meeting with the author. What does this say about the status of the factory girls?
1. Why does the number of workers working in the factory fluctuate from day to day. What did the owner report on doing when he needed to hire workers very quickly? How would this aspect of the factory operations—its variability—affect workers?
2. What are “sewing lines” and how are they arranged on the factory floor?
3. What is Sylvie’s attitude towards the workers?
4. What is “the search”? What does the existence of the “search” say about the status of workers?
5. Although the workers were not highly educated, they were familiar with the idea of research. Why was this so? Do you find it surprising?
6. After describing the workers’ lunchtime conversation, the author notes that “The Moroccan factory girls sought no identity as “workers”—such an identity was worthless to them.” What does this mean? Based on what you know thus far about work in this factory, why might it be so?
7. In fighting with Absellem, Fatima calls out, “I am not afraid of Sylvie or of anyone...I am afraid only of God.” In what way does her response to Absellem contradict common representations of women in the Middle East?
8. Why did the author fear being seen driving with Sylvie and her husband? Were her fears legitimate?
9. The author provides detailed descriptions of what and how the workers eat lunch, their discussions at the lunch table, the pictures they choose to display. Are these descriptions of value? What, if anything, do such descriptions accomplish?
10. The “make-up” session leads the author to theorize about the use of make-up by factory girls. What are her assertions? Do you believe this interpretation is accurate?
11. What was Zaynab’s experience with foreigners? Why does she claim to prefer “life with foreigners”?
1. What tasks are accomplished in the packing department and where is it located? Who are the packing department managers?
2. What skill level do packing workers require and what does this say about their status in the factory?
3. Workers who are absent due to illness require medical documentation to return to their posts. Why is this a problem for workers?
4. The morning after the workers receive what they perceive to be unfair pay, they complain about it, and then accept the payment without revolt. The author offers an explanation for why workers appear to accept very uneven wages. Explain this argument. Do you believe it is an adequate explanation?
5. The workers assert they give their money to their mothers, not to their fathers. What does this say about their households?
6. Nearly all the workers in the factory are unmarried females. Why, according to the author, do owners prefer not to hire married women?
7. After work one day, Fatima leaves the factory with the cry: “I am going to ‘do the boulevard,’ and then go home and make hrira!” In what way is this an act of resistance? Resistance to what?
8. Fatima and her sister both began careers as factory workers, but their lives took very different paths. What does this fact tell us about the workers?
9. Hayat insists that a married woman should not have to “work for her husband.” What does she mean? What does this say about her concept of marriage?
10. In what way is the factory a “schoolroom” for Naima?
11. What specifically Moroccan cultural institution informs the workers about whether or not people in training should be paid?
12. Despite the bad pay and difficult conditions inside the factory, Hyatt and Latifa defend the owners. What does this say about familism in the factory system?
13. Sama progressively tells the author about her entrance into the factory, and her story seems to change as she goes along. What do her “confessions” tell us about the fieldwork process.
14. How do the workers react to the treatment of the worker who slapped Absellam? What does this tell us about the women’s attitudes about widespread ideas about gender?
1. What kinds of questions does the author ask in her survey? Why is this data important?
2. In the course of doing her survey, the author listens to a speech by a woman named Sala, who was employed for a long time in the city’s factories. What does Sala say about the way the factories used to operate in Fes? What does she suggest is the reason for the change? Can the author trust what this worker says? If not, do the worker’s claims have any significance?
3. After listening to Sala speak, the author hears the problems of a girl who suffered a traumatic burn, and another girl who is concerned about her father’s pension. What does this variety of voices suggest about who the workers are?
4. When something is stolen from the factory, all the girls become frightened of being falsely accused. What does the author learn from the incident, about the packing girls, how they view themselves, and how they feel about factory work?
5. Fadela claims she is earning income from trafficking hashish. Do you believe that what she has told the author is true?
6. As the author ends her tenure in the factory, she has a strange suspicion that the owners, and perhaps even the workers, blame her for the factory closing. Do you believe this could be so? What does this say about the effects of fieldwork on the fieldworker?
1. Who is Nadia, where did the author first meet her, and why is her story important.
2. Look at Appendix 2, and draw a schematic that will help you remember who is who in these families.
3. How did Jamila meet and marry Nadia’s brother? What difficulty does Jamila talk about in her first meeting with the author?
4. How is Aisha related to Nadia?
5. What does Aisha tell the author about funeral rituals in Morocco?
1. The author notes that, as the research progresses, she is noticing that many people are reporting on illness that they themselves, or their family members, suffer. The author is not investigating health. What does this tell us about the research process?
2. What is a fqi? What does Abdel-Haq think about the fqi and how does this differ from what the women think?
3. Jamila tells the author about her plans for using the birth control pills. What are these plans? Should the author have advised Jamila on possible health risks?
4. The workers at Nadia’s factory staged a walk out. In what way was this walk out not a real protest?
5. Why do women visit saint shrines? What did the women of the family see at the shrine?
6. What did the fqi tell the women about Jamila’s infertility and why did they then make a visit to the saint’s shrine?
7. According to the family, how did Jamila manage to convince Youssef to marry her?
8. Tell the story of Nadia’s courtship with the teacher. In what way was her dating the teacher different from courtship patterns in the United States? In what way was it similar?
9. Jamila insists that girls should have a “little freedom,” but not too much. Earlier, Latifa made a similar claim. What does this claim mean? In what way does such a claim allow females some flexibility in managing their own behavior?
10. As the spring progresses, the women of the family seem to become more and more critical of Jamila. What, in your opinion, is happening? Why is the author unable to ascertain the real cause of this conflict?
11. Tell the story of Aisha’s marriage. What, in Aisha’s opinion, are the biggest problems with marriage in Morocco? What sorts of marriage does she plan for her daughters?
12. As time progresses, Nadia hints more and more that she wishes to return to the United States with the author, and the author realizes that their relationship might be hinged on her status as a foreigner. Explain.
13. Eventually, Nadia finds a new job with upper class Moroccan women. Describe this new position.
1. At the end of the fieldwork period, the author seems eager to leave the field. Should she admit to feeling this way in the ethnography?
2. When she leaves the field, the author gives the family gifts. Why does she do this?
1. What kind of conclusions does the author draw about the effect of industrialization on the working girls of Morocco?
2. Given that this ethnography reflects conditions in Morocco in 1995, what might the material here suggest about factory work in the country today?