From Workshops to Sweatshops

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Sun Oct 29 23:17:56 MST 2000

Review, XVI, 2, Spring, 1993

James A. Reilly, ``From Workshops to Sweatshops: Damascus Textiles and
the World-Economy in the Last Ottoman Century''

This article examines the effects of the Industrial Revolution on
textile weaving in Damascus and weavers' responses in the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. Although Damascus weavers suffered greatly
from European competition during the
era of ``free-trade imperialism,'' their craft recovered and adapted in
the decades that followed. Under market pressure, guild-based
petty-commodity production based on small individually owned workshops
gave way to protocapitalist forms of organization. Strikes and labor
disputes accompanied downward pressure on workers' wages. Noticeable
polarization occurred between owners of means of production and sellers
of labor. The result by 1914 was neither full-fledged capitalist
industry nor the earlier, guild-based system of manufacturing. Rather,
the Damascus weaving industry was in transition, pushed along by Ottoman
Syria's ongoing incorporation into the capitalist world-economy.


Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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