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



“On Women’s Day, we seek not only to end all violence perpetrated against women but also to address the primordial roots of violence in our country—the continued and intensifying foreign exploitation of our sovereignty and environment,” proclaims Terry Ridon, president of the Kabataan Partylist, a youth-based political party in the Philippines. “Why do we say that violence emanates from foreign intervention and exploitation? Throughout history, violence has been perpetrated by invaders upon conquest of new lands. From the Spaniards to the continuing domination of the Americans, our nation has continuously been beaten and persecuted to the point of subjugation.”1 His words echo through the crowd gathered in Manila, the country’s capital.

Bai Ali Indayla, a Muslim Filipina activist and Kabataan Partylist nominee, concurs, saying, “Where foreign troops go, lives are lost, women are abused, and our sovereignty is raped.”2

Just a few hours away, on that very same day, a group of women stand in the middle of Magsaysay Drive, part of a thickening crowd. One shows her support by wearing a heart-shaped sign around her neck that says, “US Troops Out Now!” Speaking into a microphone, she calls for the U.S. military to leave the Philippines. Behind her, someone holds two signs that read, “Philippine Territory Off Limits to GI Joe!” and “We’ve Suffered Enough.”3

This protest is held outside the gates of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), a place dedicated to attracting foreign direct investment, or economic transactions through the partial or full foreign ownership of businesses located in host countries. Freeport Zones (FZs) like Subic Bay attract these businesses by being physical places where domestic economic laws are relaxed.4 Protests like these, against foreign investment and intervention, are written into the fabric and history of the Philippines—from revolutionaries fighting against Spanish and U.S. colonialism, to the popular and nonviolent overthrow of a dictator who was seen as a puppet of the U.S. government, to demonstrations against the U.S. military in the Philippines.5 Home to the former U.S. Subic Bay Naval Base, Subic Bay has long been a lightning rod for what it means to host a foreign power.

Yet, as these women chant and hold signs decrying the U.S. military presence in the Philippines, hundreds of people mill about. They go about their daily routines, paying no attention to what is occurring just a few feet away. Everyday life continues on. Informal food vendors still gather around the FZ’s entrance, selling pina (pineapple), pandasal (bread), mani (peanuts), suman (a form of sticky rice), saging (bananas), buko (coconut) juice, gum, candies, and cigarettes. Workers and visitors continue to enter the FZ, and others pass by its entrance as they make their way to the rest of the day.

This protest and the mundane of everyday life occurring alongside it are emblematic of what it means to live within a global borderland,6 a place controlled by foreigners and one where the rules that govern socioeconomic life differ from those that are outside its walls.7 These places—whether an overseas military base, a special economic zone (SEZ),8 an all-inclusive tourist resort, an embassy, a cruise ship, a port city, or a colonial trading fort—mean different things to different people. They elicit multiple meanings. For some, these places are symbols of imperialism, unequal power, and foreign penetration into domestic society, something to be protested and lobbied against so that their very presence is destroyed. For others, they represent the “good life” and are rooted in utopian imaginaries that provide status and something in which to belong and partake, whether through work or leisure. Both things are true, depending on who you ask and where you look.

This book is a cultural sociology of globalization, development, and inequality. It focuses on these seemingly contradictory claims by examining everyday experiences of people living in, working at, and visiting Subic Bay and the accompanying love, crimes, statuses, and meanings that they (re)create within it. Subic Bay is just one of many global borderlands around the world, like Acapulco, New York University Abu Dhabi, Cayman Enterprise City Special Economic Zone, and any of the 307 U.S. embassies, consulates, or diplomatic missions abroad.9

Global Borderlands

Global borderlands represent a new analytic, spatialized unit of globalization, whose activities have consequences far beyond their borders. They are not global centers of finance, although, like global cities,10 they are places where the rich depend on relatively low-wage work. Instead, they are global centers of foreign-local encounters, whether for work and/or pleasure, that lay within, rather than alongside, geopolitical borders.11 They are not “flat” spaces where global exchanges take place. Rather global borderlands are particular, spatialized configurations of inequalities that are based on differences in nationality and class. As such, inequalities are written into their very fabric. They are, by definition, spaces of high inequalities, and their physical location remains important.12 Every time you step into a place that has different sets of rules governing it, is semiautonomous from domestic laws, and is based on the interaction between the foreign and the local, you enter a global borderland. So, too, do you enter one if you are a foreigner abroad who visits a place because of its familiarity to your home land.

Global borderlands are legally plural, places where two or more legal systems coexist.13 That is, they are places where there are competing and intersecting jurisdictions over people, rules, norms, and expectations and where the rule of law increasingly depends on the context of the crime and the identities of individuals and governments.14 In this respect, global borderlands are “unsettled”15 places where sociocultural and legal strategies of action are continually negotiated and contested.

Here I use a law and society perspective that sees laws as cultural meaning-making systems16 and recognize the difference between “law on the books” and “law in action,” where the former are written laws and the latter are laws as they are understood, experienced, and enacted on the ground in everyday life.17 These legally plural systems may be formal, informal, or somewhere in between. For example, if outside of these places, being gay, having uncovered hair, or wearing shorts are illegal, prohibited, or frowned upon, within them, these things may be accepted, welcomed, and/or pass unremarked on. In a similar way, international agreements governing U.S. military bases or visiting forces stipulate the when, where, why, and over whom U.S. versus domestic laws apply. So, too, are domestic economic laws relaxed in order to attract foreign businesses within SEZs like the Panama Pacifico Special Economic Area, South Korea’s Yellow Sea Free Economic Zone, Egypt’s North West Suez Special Economic Zone (SEZONE), or Poland’s SEZ EURO-PARK MIELEC (SSE Euro-Park Mielec).

Global borderlands provide a window into broader economic and political relations and the accompanying demonstrations of power they entail. Where the foreign and the local meet, inequalities serve as their foundation. As such, whether defined in the Weberian sense of the ability to assert your will despite resistance,18 as state’s infrastructural19 or despotic20 forms, as having relational, discursive, and performative dimensions,21 or as stemming from ideology, economy, military, or politics,22 differences in power shape the content and form of these global interactions. This is true if we regard global borderlands as sites where empire, “expansive, militarized, and multiethnic political organizations that significantly limit the sovereignty of the peoples and polities they conquer,” and imperialism, “a strategy of political control over foreign lands that does not necessarily involve conquest, occupation, and durable rule by outside invaders,”23 thrive and take hold,24 such as when the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or the United States flex their muscles and demand that countries meet particular conditions before being granted aid,25 or when the overt or subtle threat of military power and taking away military aid lies in the shadow of socioeconomic and political negotiations. Yet, even if you see global borderlands not as arms of empire but as the result of diplomacy, soft power, and/or hegemony in action,26 power’s influence seeps into these exchanges, shaping dynamics and underlying the actions and inactions taken within and about them.

Global borderlands can be examples of what Carl Schmitt calls a “state of exception,”27 where norms are suspended and who is sovereign is the one who decides what is exceptional and what is not. They can also be representative of how Aihwa Ong describes “neoliberalism as exception”—where neoliberalism, as a political, economic, and ideological platform, has reconfigured definitions and experiences of citizenship and sovereignty around the world and where SEZs’ autonomy “creates conditions of total market freedom but without . . . democratic rights.”28 Foreigners and accompanying socioeconomic and political policies enact undue influence within these places precisely because domestic actors are using these policies as a way to lure foreigners and their investments into their country. As such, domestic actors do not solely decide on who and what is “exceptional.”

However, within these boundaries, I’ve also found that power is not a one-way demonstration of domination of the foreign over the domestic29 or the rich over the poor. Rather, within the gates of these spaces, we can witness the inner workings of power as something that is relational and situational, even within places of stark structural inequality. For example, power shapes and is shaped by legal agreements: their writing and their use in resolving disputes. As Carruthers and Halliday note, “countries which appear relatively powerless over enactment nevertheless have some power to shape implementation. Groups within countries, which may be unable to block enactment, can (as in weapons of the weak) undermine or frustrate implementation” and locals have the ability to translate and adapt global laws.30

Power can also differ in degree or type and can be exercised using leverage, persuasion, and reciprocity and through social structures and arenas.31 It is wielded by the elite and the nonelite, as well as foreign and domestic actors, alike. As such, and contrary to popular understanding, we can think of global borderlands not as sites where domestic actors fully cede sovereignty to foreigners. Rather, we need to see them as places where sovereignty is contingent. It is continually negotiated and contested, long after they’ve been created. When seen as arms of empires, global borderlands highlight their informal forms, which is when “international control is exercised through military, economic, and other means, but there is no conquest or permanent seizure of political sovereignty and therefore no possibility of systematically enforcing a rule of difference. Informal empire is more coercive than hegemony.”32 Informal empire is not about absolute control nor only about the appearance or facade of domestic sovereignty as a mask for foreign sovereignty, power, or control. Rather, I show how within these places, control is contingent; it is continually negotiated and contested by both the foreign and the local.

The notion that politics involve negotiations where the powerful may give some concessions to the less powerful is not new. Indeed, international politics, political sociology, and international law are just a few of the fields where these negotiations take center stage. Alexander Cooley,33 for example, suggests that what he calls “base politics” over U.S. overseas military bases depends on the relative bargaining positions of host country leaders and the agreement’s legitimacy. Similarly, Amy Austin Holmes34 suggests that overseas military bases spark social unrest depending on two factors: whether outside threats to the host nation are high and whether they commit harm to the people they are supposed to protect. Depending on these factors, overseas U.S. military bases can provide “legitimate protection,” “pernicious protection,” “precautionary protection,” or a “protection racket,” and these roles can change across time. Given these analyses that highlight the political negotiations between powerful and less powerful countries, what is new about the approach laid out in this book? By extending and connecting this analysis of negotiations to multiple facets of life, this examination goes beyond international politics or economic laws. Second, and following Julian Go’s work,35 I highlight the role of culture and meaning-making in international politics and laws, and bridge together insights from a wide array of fields that often are not in conversation with one another: from international politics and international law to scholarship on empire, economic sociology, urban sociology, and cultural sociology. Place and space are foregrounded as central aspects of these negotiations because they often revolve around global borderlands. To paint a nuanced picture of global borderlands, I offer different mechanisms—that of law, power, meaning-making, and stakes—for understanding them.

Global borderlands are sites where meanings and identities are continually reimagined and recreated.36 Whether seen as a symbol of empire or as a facet of the “good life,” these places attract attention and demand explanations for their existence. Here, people draw on imaginaries of the past and present to work out their own understanding of how these sites fit into daily life.37 These understandings touch upon global, national, community, place, family, and personal issues, where legacies of the past, whether “good” or “bad,” continue to reverberate and shape contemporary social life.38 Within Subic Bay, I’ve discovered how sovereignty, status, meanings, and place are experiential, contingent, and remade. They are not things that are taken for granted; rather, they are enacted in, around, and concerning global borderlands in everyday interactions. Uniting people’s imaginations and their behavior, alongside the broader social structures that shape their lives,39 this book shows how in these spaces, power, culture, and agency do not negate one another. Rather, they are entwined and come together to reinforce existing inequalities. Focusing on how power, law, and meanings interact and operate across a wide array of contexts is one purpose of the book. Yet they are not the only mechanisms shaping the terms and outcomes of negotiations. So, too, do we have to pay attention to the role of stakes.40 That is, the relative importance of a situation to government officials is a key determinate of understanding when, where, and how negotiations play out within and around global borderlands.

One important device used to shape the stakes of a situation is the media. Traditional media (newspapers), social media (like Twitter and Facebook), and their coverage are important to study because they frame our understanding of events and the world around us.41 However, we also know that newspaper coverage is not absolute and depends on conflict, intensity of the conflict, geography, audience, day of the week, and organizational sponsors, among other factors,42 and that newspaper organizations and journalists themselves play a role in what Marilyn Lester calls “generating newsworthiness.”43 Organizers use cultural artifacts (such as documentaries) to shape public debates,44 and we know that similar social problems are framed and discussed differently across countries.45 Yet not all framing efforts by social movement organizations are successful, as their relative effectiveness depends on the larger political and cultural context in which they occur,46 and whether their events are covered in the news depends on organizations’ geographic proximity to news outlets, organizational capacity, and their use of demonstrations.47 Christopher Bail,48 for example, has shown how “fringe” organizations can use appeals to negative emotions—in the case he examines, fear and anger—to enter into national media dialogue and cultivate cultural change.

However, social movement organizations are not the only ones to rely on and use media attention strategically. Research in international law shows that not only do court actions shape, and are shaped by, their political environment49 but that court systems around the world use the media to selectively promote cases and also use public oral hearings as a way to increase awareness about particular cases, about legitimacy and public awareness of the court, and about transparency in the judicial branch.50 Drawing on a rational-actor model, for example, Guzman51 also argues that international law has the most influence “when stakes are relatively modest” rather than those that “receive the most attention.” Here, we see that scholars define stakes, or importance, a priori.52 Yet, by definition, this approach presumes that we can hypothesize when something will be high or low stakes before it occurs. It does not account for fluidity in importance and how matters may become important from the ground up. As we’ll see in the following pages, this fluidity of stakes is most visible in global borderlands. Uniting the sociology of media with work in international law, we can see how the stakes of a situation can be identified a priori as well as from the ground up, and we can interrogate the role it plays in global borderlands.


1. (accessed January 12, 2009).

2. Ibid.

3. I have field notes about this protest.

4. For a discussion of how social relations shape foreign direct investment at the macro level, see Bandelj (2008).

5. Calls for a Philippine nation free from foreign intervention have a long history. In 1896 Spanish colonial officials discovered the existence of Katipunan, a secret society aimed at Philippine independence from Spain through armed revolution, and in doing so, sparked the 1896–98 Philippine Revolution. Born to parents who were Chinese mestizos (of mixed ancestry), Emilio Aguinaldo was one of the key figures in the revolution and a military leader who led Philippine forces against Spain. In the fight against continued Spanish occupation, Aguinaldo allied with the United States. However, when he did so, he erroneously assumed that U.S. officials were helping the Philippine Revolutionary Army defeat Spain in Manila, and afterward, they would support and recognize an independent Philippines (Agoncillo 2012 [1990]:199; Karnow 1989:114–15). In June 1898, Aguinaldo copenned the Philippine Declaration of Independence, declaring Philippine sovereignty and the Philippines as a nation-state. However, neither Spanish nor U.S. officials recognized this declaration and proceeded to collude to end the Spanish-American War through a mock battle at Manila in an effort to transfer the Philippines from Spain to the United States and keep it out of the hands of the Filipino revolutionary government (Agoncillo 2012 [1990], chap. 11; Karnow 1989:123–25). Officials from the United States and Spain signed the 1898 Treaty of Paris, which transferred the Philippines to the United States for $20 million (for a copy of the 1898 Treaty of Paris, see [accessed April 24, 2017]). A month after its signing, in January 1899, Filipino revolutionaries signed the Malolos Constitution (for a copy, see [accessed April 24, 2017]) creating the First Philippine Republic and declaring Aguinaldo its first leader. Just a few weeks later, the Philippine-American War erupted between the First Philippine Republic and the United States. It lasted for over three years and culminated in a U.S. victory over its colony. These fights against the United States and for Philippine independence continued even after the Philippines was recognized as a sovereign nation in 1946. After independence, however, the protests revolved around the continued role of the U.S. military and their power and influence in the Philippines. The protest I witnessed in Olongapo in 2013 was just one of many that have filled the streets in recent decades. For example, in 1986, anti–U.S. base protests and rhetoric helped topple the dictator Ferdinand Marcos through the nonviolent People Power Revolution and chart the rise of Corazon “Cory” Aquino. The wife of the slain Philippine senator and outspoken Marcos critic Benigno Aquino Jr., she would become the eleventh Philippine president and first female president of an Asian country. Additional anti–U.S. base protests erupted during the 1992 negotiations over renewing the Military Bases Agreement, which gave the U.S. rights to bases in the Philippines. These negotiations failed when the Philippine Senate rejected the new treaty that renewed it and ousted the U.S. military bases from the country. Yet the U.S. military never really left the Philippines. They continued to return vis-à-vis other military-related treaties. However, this time, they returned on a “visiting,” nonpermanent basis, as we will see in the following chapters.

6. A more formal definition of a global borderland is a foreign-controlled, semiautonomous place of international exchange.

7. I use the term foreign-controlled or controlled by foreigners to refer to either foreign ownership or heavy foreign influence, where this influence is one of the defining characteristics of a space. For example, special economic zones are not foreign-owned per se but are created to cultivate foreign direct investment, or businesses partially or fully owned by foreigners. The Subic Bay Freeport Zone, for example, is locally governed despite the foreign businesses located within it.

8. Special economic zone is a generic term that encapsulates a “geographically delimited area administered by a single body, offering certain incentives (generally duty-free importing and streamlined customs procedures) to businesses which physically locate within the zone” (Foreign Investment Advisory Service, the Multi-Donor Investment Climate Advisory Service of the World Bank Group, Special Economic Zones: Performance, Lessons Learned and Implications for Zone Development (Washington, DC: World Bank Group, 2008), 2,
WP0Box331s0April200801PUBLIC1.pdf (accessed January 15, 2019). This includes free-trade zones, export processing zones, enterprise zones, freeports, single-factory export processing zones, and specialized zones (e.g., science parks), each with functions varying from the processing of imports that are then exported out from the country to duty-free shopping. Because they take different forms, names, and sizes in countries and these types differ by region, there is no overarching international governing body.

9. Roberts 2013.

10. Sassen 1991.

11. Although sometimes the words “frontiers” and “borderlands” are used interchangeably, because they both represent the meeting between different types of groups and acknowledge the existence of “internal” (within a specified territory) and “external” (across two territories) spaces (D’Argemir and Pujadas 1999; Donnan and Wilson 2010), frontier scholarship tends to have a one-sided, imperial focus on powers expanding into “borderless” lands (such as colonial expansion into the American Southwest) and is “outward-oriented” (for differences between frontiers and borders, see also Stoddard [1991]). In contrast, borderland researchers tend to analyze how national ideologies and understandings of “belonging” are shaped by changing political and transportation boundaries; how individuals and states are culturally, socially, and financially linked; how borderlands are sites of informal and formal consumption, and cross-national organizational cooperation; how borderland or transnational identities and cosmopolitanism are created; and how borderlands are sites of contestation, negotiation, and meaning-making (Adelman and Aron 1999; Pisani 2013; Rippl et al. 2010; Rutherford 2011; Tirres 2008–10; Widdis 2010). Baud and van Schendel (1997) call for the need to examine the historical and comparative development of borderlands. They divide borderlands spatially (the border heartland, intermediate borderland, and the outer borderland) and temporally (infant, adolescent, adult, declining, and defunct borderlands), and call for the need to more clearly examine the overlapping political, economic, and cultural networks within and around borderlands. Other scholars take a less optimistic view, suggesting that both border patrols and residents on either side of the border can place people into wanted and unwanted categories based on nationality, race/ethnicity, and class (Casas-Cortes, Cobarrubias, and Pickles 2012; Helleiner 2012; Heyman 2009; Sundberg 2008). To these scholars, geopolitical borderlands are sites of institutionalized inequality, are rooted in national boundaries, or form the symbolic identities of people living in two cultures (Alvarez 1995; Anzaldua 1999). Still others focus on the legal ambiguity of, and forces that shape, borderlands (Dudziak and Volpp 2005; Fahmy 2013, Tirres 2008–10). However, precisely because these researchers focus on geopolitical borders or cities along these borders, they tend to ignore bounded sites within the state that share similar characteristics. I extend this research by documenting the very similar borderland dynamics occur within the confines of a nation-state. In analyzing global borderlands, I draw on literatures that emphasize how these borderlands act as sites where people of groups interact and how they maintain and reproduce inequalities through social and economic relations as well as cultural meanings.

12. In defining global borderlands as semiautonomous, foreign-controlled geographic locations geared toward international exchange, I also draw on Sassen’s (2000, 2003 [2000], 2006) work on “analytic borderlands,” which are a “formation of particular types of territoriality assembled out of ‘national’ and ‘global’ elements, each individual or aggregate instance evincing distinct spatio-temporal features” (Sassen 2006:386). Analytic borderlands are “assemblages” of both the national and the local. I similarly emphasize the need to identify places, to understand how they are rooted in historical localized processes, to examine their “social thickness,” and to understand the interconnected (that is, not mutually exclusive) and partial nature of the global and the national, and the transformation of states’ and people’s territory, authority, and rights. However, my work deviates from Sassen’s in important ways. First, I focus on foreign-controlled spaces within a sovereign nation-state. Global borderlands are specific places of semi-autonomy based on nationality. Second, my emphasis on place is rooted in specific geographic locations and their ties to local context. Although the analytic borderlands of digitized finance are “inserted in the physical space of national territory, they may have little to do with the surrounding context” (Sassen 2006:394). Within global borderlands, the country, city, and immediate community in which they are located, the local history, and the historic and contemporary relationship between the host nation-state and foreign visitors’ countries of origin are all important. This grounding in history is necessary to understand the complex interactions that occur within these spaces and to understand the implications these interactions have for broader state-to-state relationships. For example, it is important that the SBFZ’s buildings are former U.S. naval structures and that it is located in Olongapo City rather than in another Philippine city. The relationship between the U.S. Navy and Olongapo is distinct from the relationship between Subic Bay Naval Base’s sister base, Clark Air Force Base, and its surrounding community, Angeles City. I argue that this is, in part, because of the greater integration of the U.S. Navy with Olongapo. The Subic Bay Naval Base employed almost four times as many people as did Clark, and the navy was integrated into the Olongapo City political dynasty of the Gordons—the first mayor of Olongapo City was the son of an American Marine (Bowen 1986). Finally, whereas Sassen (2006) emphasizes analytic borderlands’ cross-national connections, the networked nature of global borderlands is an empirical question. In analyzing the spaces of “global borderlands,” I follow previous work on how place, culture, and economy interact with global and national processes. However, I extend this literature by examining how these interactions and processes occur within foreign-controlled spaces that are geared toward international exchange.

13. Berman 2009; Griffiths 1986; Merry 1988; Michaels 2009; Tamanaha 2007.

14. See Auyero (2007) for a different understanding of what he calls the “gray zone of state power, . . . ​where the obscure and obscured actions of local politicos, grassroots brokers, and cops meet and mesh in seemingly coordinated ways,” and how “the National Guard took special care when it came to protecting stores like the French-owned Carrefour or the American-owned Norte” (81)—likely because of how the businesses’ foreign ownership relate to politics, the “geography of policing” (85), and the “size of markets, police (under) protection and community and political relations” (144).

15. See Swidler (1986) for settled versus unsettled lives and the role that culture plays in determining what she calls peoples’ “strategies of action.”

16. For examples of how this plays out in human rights laws, see Bunting (2005) and Merry (2003). For work on legal pluralism, jurisdictional politics, culture, and empire, see Benton (2002) and Benton and Ross (2013).

17. For example, see Stinchcombe (2005).

18. Weber 1978 [1922].

19. According to Mann (1984), infrastructural power of the state is “the capacity of the state to actually penetrate civil society, and to implement logistically political decisions throughout the realm” (189) or “the power of the state to penetrate and centrally co-ordinate the activities of civil society through its own infrastructure” (190).

20. According to Mann (1984), despotic power of the state is “the range of actions which the elite is empowered to undertake without routine, institutionalized negotiation with civil society groups” (188) or “the power by the state elite itself over civil society” (190).

21. Reed 2013.

22. For example, see Mann (2012 [1986]):1–33; see Nye (2004) for differences between hard and soft power; see Gramsci (1989 [1971]) and Lears (1985) on cultural hegemony; and see Gaventa (1982) and Lukes (2005 [1974]) on the three faces or dimensions of power.

23. Steinmetz 2014:79.

24. For example, see Go (2011), Johnson (2004), and Lutz (2005, 2006, 2009) for overseas U.S. military bases as arms of U.S. empire.

25. For example, see Babb and Carruthers (2008).

26. See Cooley (2008) for one example of why he thinks traditional understandings of U.S. bases as part of a U.S. empire miss key negotiations; instead, he refers to these negotiations as “base politics.”

27. Schmitt’s (1988 [1922]) work is on states of exception, where norms are suspended and who is sovereign is the one who decides what is exceptional and what is not; Subic is not a state of exception, per se. It is a site where a set of different norms and laws are enforced, though government officials did designate it as a place that is subject to different (not no) regulations. See also Agamben (2005).

28. Ong 2006:108–9; see Chen (1995) and Cross (2010), who contend that workers experience these zones as a continuation of the informal labor processes that occur outside them.

29. Similar to McMahon (1999), who discusses how “influence moved in a multi-directional rather than a unidirectional manner” in Southeast Asia between Western powers and indigenous, Southeast Asian ones (5).

30. Carruthers and Halliday 2006:573.

31. For example, see Halliday (2009).

32. Steinmetz 2014:84–85. In showing how sovereignty is contingent and a process, I draw on Adams and Steinmetz (2015), who examine sovereignty as a cultural process and focus on the complexity of agency.

33. Cooley 2008.

34. Holmes 2014.

35. Following, for example, Go (2008).

36. Ralph (2014) shows how dreams and aspirations similarly shape meaning in a Chicago neighborhood. Global borderlands are based on these competing images and are places where these negotiations and contested symbolism are most visible; see Benedicto (2008) for his description of Manila as a city of contradictions and sites where “dreams of being elsewhere come to life in myriad ways and are set against the intense differences that mark and cut the urban landscape” (47)—that is, as “desired elsewhere” or “dreaming of elsewhere” (58–59), where Manila (and people within it) is “determined to reconstitute itself as a ‘global city’ within the third-world city, sequestered from the city but open to the world” (55). See Tadiar (2004) on how “imagination, as culturally organized social practice, is an intrinsic, constitutive part of political economy” (4). See Burawoy et al. (2000) and Gille and Ó Riain (2002) for the call to conduct global ethnography, which consists of analyzing “global forces, connections, and imaginations” (28). See Tsing (2010) for what she describes as the “friction” that propels globalization forward.

37. See Freeman (2000), Mills (2001 [1999]), Ong (2010), Salzinger (2003), and Wolfe (1992) on gendered imaginations and labor.

38. See Aneesh (2015) as an example of how working in call centers in India that cater to people in the United States and the United Kingdom shapes the social lives of their employees.

39. Similar to Brennan (2004), Frye (2012), and Salzinger (2003), among others.

40. See Norton (2014) on his argument that social situations should be the unit of analysis when studying culture.

41. For example, see Gamson and Wolfsfeld (1993); Lester (1980).

42. Myers and Caniglia 2004; Oliver and Myers 1999.

43. Lester 1980.

44. Vasi et al. 2015.

45. Benson and Saguy 2005.

46. For example, see McCammon et al. (2007).

47. Andrews and Caren 2010.

48. Bail 2012.

49. Vanberg 2001.

50. Krehbiel 2016; Staton 2006.

51. Guzman 2002:1822.

52. For example, see Staton (2006).