New Internationalist

T-Shirt Travels

June 2002

This film clearly demonstrates how neo-liberal free-market economics has destroyed the Zambian economy, putting disabling debt repayment to the IMF in the place of social spending on education, health and welfare. Squeezed by a colonial legacy of resource extraction, Cold War politics and free-market rhetoric, Zambia has ended up as the world’s largest US flea market. Although the idea is novel in terms of filmic expression, Bloemen takes a fairly generic approach, combining interviews with experts — members of the Zambian Government, as well as historians and economists — with more ethnographic footage of ordinary people’s lives and her own explanatory voice-over. The strength of the film is the way in which it traces the transatlantic journey of huge quantities of used clothing from the US to Africa as a way of visualizing and understanding unequal and unjust global economic relations. At just under an hour, T-Shirt Travels would be eminently suited to educational settings.

Zoë Druick

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 346 This column was published in the June 2002 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on T-Shirt Travels

Leave your comment