This article uses the 2006 experimental documentary Maquilapolis to shed light on the struggles of women workers in export-oriented industrial zones operating under the shadow of Asian global capitalism. My focus complicates the typical reading of the maquiladora factory system as simply a US–Mexico border issue by situating the burgeoning influence of East Asian nations and corporations in this economically profitable region of the world. Through the concept of glorientalization, I elucidate the connections between the all-encompassing gestures of globalization and the binaristic reframing of Orientalism found within the maquiladora system, where low-wage, brown, female factory workers in Tijuana must deal with an invasive foreign imperial presence that seeks to colonize, objectify, and exoticize them as docile, mechanized cyborgs similar to Asian women. As nonpermanent entities able to come and go at will, Asian companies are able to adopt a virtual character, while alienating women from the high-tech commodities they produce, treating the women as machine-like, disposable cyborgs without human needs or rights. I argue for an understanding of not only the economic and cultural imperialism of East Asia in the borderlands of the Americas, but the spectralizing processes by which displaced women of color are denied material presence and recognition as living labor. Situating Maquilapolis as a case study and prime text for rethinking women's subjugation as well as resistance to new capital allows critical insight into how marginalized groups negotiate their subject-position within hyper-mediated, “de-territorialized” spaces. A consideration of maquila women as both political actors and performers in the film draws attention to the scattered hegemonies of Asian technoculture as well as US hegemony, enabling awareness of the differential modes of oppression and collective demands for social justice by third-world laborers in the so called “Asian Century.”

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