How do places of enclosure facilitate processes of enclosure? The case of free trade zones—or, rather, foreign-trade zones—suggests one means. Thanks to megawatt duos such as Walmart and Kathie Lee Gifford, free trade zones rank among the most archetypal spaces of neoliberalism. At over thirty-five hundred strong, ranging from Honduras to Indonesia, these fenced enclaves of “labor warehouses,” in the words of a Filipino labor organizer, constitute the legal and material infrastructure of the global assembly line. Yet contrary to the cognitive maps of Buy Americanists, a sizeable number of free trade zones are located not offshore but onshore, planted firmly on U.S. soil, if not entirely on U.S. territory. Known as foreign-trade zones, or FTZs, Uncle Sam's enclaves are much older than their counterparts in the Global South: first proposed in 1894, they were authorized by Congress in 1934, at the dawn of the New Deal. This article sketches how zones inside the United States have come to connect to zones outside the United States by revisiting the literal and figurative construction of the first FTZ on ninety-two acres in Staten Island.
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Dara Orenstein; Foreign-Trade Zones and the Cultural Logic of Frictionless Production. Radical History Review 1 January 2011; 2011 (109): 36–61. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-2010-014
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