Global Borderlands: Fantasy, Violence, and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines

Lecture | October 29 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Victoria Reyes, Assistant Professor of Sociology, UC Riverside

 Center for Southeast Asia Studies

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, this talk argues that this place's 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.

This talk, derived from Prof. Reyes' new book recently published by Stanford University Press, draws on archival and ethnographic data to describe the everyday experiences of people living and working in Subic Bay, making a case for critically examining similar spaces across the world. These foreign-controlled, semi-autonomous zones of international exchange are, in her terms, '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.

Victoria Reyes received her Ph.D. from Princeton University. She was a 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan. She is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Riverside, and a faculty member of UCR's Southeast Asia: Text, Ritual & Performance (SEATRiP) program.

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