Framing for Understanding Sunset Park


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The garment district in New York city is assumed by many to be contained within the Manhattan garment district near 7thAvenue and 30th street, but this must be pushed back against. Brennan says “one cannot grasp what is really distinctive about distinctiveness or individuality without first appreciating that it is not to be taken for granted. It is not to be taken for granted precisely because of the artificiality of the distinction between the individual and the environment at the level of physical and biological change” (Brennan Page 8). As construction over takes Sunset Park, bringing in new startups and modern buildings, the distinctiveness of immigrant garment manufacturing here may never be acknowledged, yet alone appreciated. The environment and the people in this area can’t be separated, particularly due to the extremely rich immigrant population, but that is being threatened.


Examining the garment district in Sunset Park requires the acknowledgement of the transmission of affects throughout the area. As Theresa Brennan explains “there is no secure distinction between the ‘individual’ and the ‘environment’.” (Brennan Page 6). The environment of Sunset Park is inherently intertwined with those who inhabit and live in the area. Bennett also highlights how the individual and the non-human interact by “try[ing] to give voice to a thing-power” in showing “the active role of nonhuman materials in public life”. In my examination of Sunset Park, I will look at the individual, but also will inspect the environment, how it has changed, its relationship to other aspects of society will all contribute to the understanding of Sunset Park’s garment manufacturing.


Sunset Park garment manufacturing was once contained within the immigrant population that lives there, but as Industry City has been developed, the immigrant based manufacturing is suffering. On top of that, Made in NY, a new space attempting to draw the Manhattan based garment district to Brooklyn, is currently being constructed and expected to be completed in 2021.


Bennett sheds light on the idea of the operator, which is “by virtue of its particular location in an assemblage and the fortuity of being in the right place at the right time, makes the difference, makes things happen, becomes the decisive force catalyzing an event” (Bennett Page 9). The history of Sunset Park is based in numerous operators. In terms of the garment manufacturing, 9/11 served as an operator because the Chinese immigrant based manufacturing in Chinatown began to relocate to Sunset Park in Brooklyn (Shapiro). In this area, they were still able to access Manhattan and those still in Chinatown through the N train and D train. Now, the development of Industry City is serving as an operator for the breaking down of the immigrant based garment industry within Sunset Park.


Humans are made up of matter, which gives us life, therefore giving agency to matter. Due to the nature of matter, objects have a strong power and value in the interconnectedness of people and objects (Bennett Page 13). Giving credit to the power of matter is important, because of its close affect on humans. In this investigation, I will be closely looking at how the garment manufacturing has shaped the people in this community, and how it is now developing and changing the environment and those who inhabit this environment. What are the environmental effects on this area? What are the economic effects on the immigrants who live here? In addition, I will examine the direct economic and environmental destruction of the manufacturing directly on the water.


The people of Sunset Park have become interconnected with its industries, so the changes within the industries have a direct effect on these people and the value of their lives.


“In the sense that each is, by its very nature as a body, continuously affecting and being affected by other bodies” (Bennett  Page 21). This quote from Vibrant Matter will guide my field research as I aim to portray the evolving problems in Sunset Park, particularly regarding the garment manufacturing.





Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: a Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.

“Introduction.” The Transmission of Affect, by Teresa Brennan, Cornell University Press, 2014, pp. 1–23.

Shapiro, Stacy. “Stacy Shapiro – From Sweatshops to Factories: The History of the New York City Garment Industry.” EPortfolios Macaulay CUNY, WordPress Hosting, 26 May 2017.






~ by davisverg on September 27, 2019.

One Response to “Framing for Understanding Sunset Park”

  1. I find this the most informative because it not explain the possible cause through the readings but also gave a lot of background regarding the history of Sunset Park that could lead to what is happening now.

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