Document Type



Author's Final Manuscript

Publication Title

Theory and Society



Publication Date



By developing the concept of “global borderlands”–semi-autonomous, foreign-controlled geographic locations geared toward international exchange–this article shifts the focus of globalization literature from elite global cities and cities on national borders to within-country sites owned and/or operated by foreigners and defined by significant social, cultural, and economic exchange. I analyze three shared features of these sites: semi-autonomy, symbolic and geographic boundaries, and unequal relations. The multi-method analyses reveal how the concept of global borderlands can help us better understand the interactions that occur in the contemporary era of globalization across people of different nationalities, classes, and races/ethnicities as well as the complex dynamics that occur within foreign-controlled spaces. I first situate global borderlands within the literatures of global cities and traditional borderlands. Next, I use the case study of Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), Philippines to show (1) how the semi-autonomy of global borderlands produces different regulations depending on nationality, (2) how its geographic and symbolic borders differentiate this space from the surrounding community, and (3) how the semi-autonomy of these locations and their geographic and symbolic borders reproduce unequal relations. As home of the former U.S. Subic Bay Naval Base and current site of a Freeport Zone, the SBFZ serves as a particularly strategic research location to examine the different forms of interactions that occur between groups within spaces of unequal power.