Cover of Global Borderlands by Victoria Reyes
Global Borderlands
Fantasy, Violence, and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines
Victoria Reyes


September 2019
312 pages.
from $30.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503607996
Paper ISBN: 9781503609419
Digital ISBN: 9781503609426

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The U.S. military continues to be an overt presence in the Philippines, and a reminder of the country's colonial past. Using Subic Bay (a former U.S. military base, now a Freeport Zone) as a case study, Victoria Reyes argues that its defining feature is its ability to elicit multiple meanings. For some, it is a symbol of imperialism and inequality, while for others, it projects utopian visions of wealth and status.

Drawing on archival and ethnographic data, Reyes describes the everyday experiences of people living and working in Subic Bay, and makes a case for critically examining similar spaces across the world. These foreign-controlled, semi-autonomous zones of international exchange are what she calls global borderlands. While they can take many forms, ranging from overseas military bases to tourist resorts, they all have key features in common. This new unit of globalization provides a window into broader economic and political relations, the consequences of legal ambiguity, and the continuously reimagined identities of the people living there. Rejecting colonialism as merely a historical backdrop, Reyes demonstrates how it is omnipresent in our modern world.

About the author

Victoria Reyes is Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of California, Riverside.

"Victoria Reyes brings us into a world that few observers have dared enter: the 'global borderland' that is the Philippines' Subic Bay, a former American military base. Through this invaluable and innovative ethnography, readers get to see, in vivid richness, the complex workings of money, love, sex, and power that characterize the afterlives of America's military empire in the Pacific. Sociology needs more historical ethnographies like this one."

—Julian Go, author of Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory

"Rarely can a study account for practices of globalization from above and below while situating the events of today in its colonial past, but Victoria Reyes accomplishes this extraordinary feat with her concept of 'global borderlands.' This is a wide-reaching study that should be of interest to anthropologists, geographers, and legal scholars, and sociologists of intimacy, globalization, and economics."

—Rhacel Parreñas, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, University of Southern California