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Special economic zones: The global frontlines of neoliberalism’s value regime.

Neveling, P., 2024. Special economic zones: The global frontlines of neoliberalism’s value regime. In: Kalb, D., ed. Insidious capital: Frontlines of value at the end of a global cycle. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books, 40-69.

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This chapter develops an anthropological theory and ethnographic research paradigm to capture the role of special economic zones (SEZs) as frontlines in neoliberalism’s global value regime. Based on global ethnographic and archival research, the lineage of today’s more than 5,000 zones with more than 100 million workers across over 140 nations can be traced back to late 1940s economic development policy innovations in the US-American dependency Puerto Rico. From there, early zone policies spread with remarkable continuity as frontlines of a singular political-economic value regime with novel relations between capital, state, and labor across the diverse geopolitical constellations of capitalist aggression against socialism, decolonization, and non-alignment. Carried by a dynamic global alliance of US-American, various United Nations agencies, private sector pressure groups, and postcolonial comprador bourgeoisies’ development policies, the zones shaped neoliberal export-oriented industrialization by way of implementing gendered and racialized (super-)exploitation of workers in a new international division of labor. The chapter identifies the zones’ prevalent singular value regime as a global labor arbitrage that pits workers in less-developed nations against workers in advanced capitalist nations, while post-colonial (and nowadays all) nation-states provide subsidies for transnational capital in exchange for the provision of employment, contributions to gross domestic product, and incorporation into global value chains. Alongside this, persistent zone operations have established a plural value regime that portrays investors as benevolent donors of employment despite the fact that they operate SEZ factories on the basis of gendered and other super-exploitation that has pushed labor standards into a global race to the bottom.

Item Type:Book Section
Series Name:Dislocations
Number of Pages:326
Uncontrolled Keywords:Social Anthropology; Special Economic Zones; Capitalism; Economic Anthropology; Economic Sociology; Economic History;Neoliberalism;Value;Economic cycle
Group:Faculty of Health & Social Sciences
ID Code:39081
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:29 Jan 2024 11:14
Last Modified:29 Jan 2024 11:14


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