Increasing levels of globalization have led to the proliferation of spaces of international exchange. In her new book, Global Borderlands: Fantasy, Violence, and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines
(Stanford University Press, 2019), sociologist Victoria Reyes
looks at one such space, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, in the Philippines, to understand how they are contested and imagined by different sets of actors in everyday life. She sees freeport zones, places intended to attract foreign investment through the relaxing of domestic economic laws, as examples of what she calls “global borderlands,” or “a place controlled by foreigners and one where the rules that govern socioeconomic life differ from those outside its walls” (2) (other examples include Acapulco, NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus, and any embassy or consulate around the world). They are where two or more legal systems coexist, and where the very notion of state sovereignty gets negotiated on the ground. Through ethnographic and historical-comparative analysis, Reyes shows the origins of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, and looks in-depth at the wide array of contexts—military agreements, family arrangements, intimate encounters, shopping, and workplaces—to reveal these meanings and their underlying mechanisms. The result is a conceptual framework that social science scholars can apply to any space where international political, economic, and cultural tensions emerge.
Richard E. Ocejo is associate professor of sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy
(Princeton University Press, 2017), about the transformation of low-status occupations into cool, cultural taste-making jobs (cocktail bartenders, craft distillers, upscale men’s barbers, and whole animal butchers), and of Upscaling Downtown: From Bowery Saloons to Cocktail Bars in New York City
(Princeton University Press, 2014), about growth policies, nightlife, and conflict in gentrified neighborhoods. His work has appeared in such journals as
City & Community, Poetics, Ethnography, and
the European Journal of Cultural Studies. He is also the editor o
f Urban Ethnography: Legacies and Challenges
(Emerald, 2012) and Ethnography and the City: Readings on Doing Urban Fieldwork
(Routledge, 2012), a co-Book Editor at City & Community, and serves on the editorial boards of the journals
Contemporary Sociology, Work and Occupations, Metropolitics, and
the Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography. Finally, he is the director of the MA program in International Migration Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.