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 MPIfG Books



Matías Dewey
Making It at Any Cost
Aspirations and Politics in a Counterfeit Clothing Marketplace

Austin: University of Texas Press, 2020
296 pages | ISBN 978-1-4773-2105-8 | 45 $

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Abstract | Contents | Author




La Salada is South America’s largest marketplace for fraudulently labeled clothing, a sprawling and dangerous bazaar on the fringes of Buenos Aires where counterfeit goods are bought and sold, armed thieves roam the nearby streets, and corrupt police and poli­ticians turn a blind eye to widespread unlawful behaviors. Despite conditions traditionally considered inhospitable to economic growth – including acute interpersonal distrust, pervasive personal insecurity, and rampant violence – business in La Salada is booming under an established order completely detached from the state.
Matías Dewey dives deep into the world of La Salada to examine how market exchanges function outside the law and how agreements and norms develop in the economy for counterfeit clothing. Drawing on seven months of ethnographic research and more than a hundred interviews, Dewey argues that aspirations for a better future shape garment workers’ everyday practices, from their home-based sweatshops to the market stalls. The book unearths a new configuration of garment production and commercialization detached from global supply chains, submerged in the shadows of informality and illegality, and rooted in aspiration and opportunity.




List of La Salada Characters
Introduction: Aspirations amid Distrust

Part I: History, Place, and Politics
Chapter 1   The Garment Market and the Marketplace
Chapter 2   Governing La Salada
Chapter 3   With God and the Devil

Part II: Prisoners of Aspirations
Chapter 4   All I Want Is a Sweatshop
Chapter 5   The Garment Entrepreneur at La Salada
Chapter 6   Dynamics of Aspirations

Part III: Aspirations in Action
Chapter 7   Narratives of Sacrifice and Autonomy
Chapter 8   Taste, Credit, and Bullets
Chapter 9   Squatters, Cart-Pullers, and Demolition

Methodological Appendix
Works Cited



Matías Dewey is a senior researcher in sociology at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. He was a visiting scholar at the Extra-Legal Governance Institute at the University of Oxford, at MaxPo in Paris, and most recently at the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of El orden clandestino, a Spanish-language book on illegal markets in Argentina, and a co-editor of The Architecture of Illegal Markets: Towards an Economic Sociology of Illegality in the Economy. His articles have appeared in Socio-Economic Review, Latin American Research Review, Journal of Latin American Studies, and Current Sociology.
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