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  • Migrants, Mobilizations, and Selective Hegemony in Mekong Asia’s Special Economic Zones

    Dennis Arnold

    Chapter from the book: Breman, J et al. 2019. The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century: A Global View.


    This chapter analyzes the transformation of Mekong Southeast Asia from a geo-political territory characterized by interstate wars and conflicts to a more integrated geo-economic region that sets out to embed special economic zones into Asia’s regional division of labor. Economic growth in the region exhibits a plurality of local labor regimes, patterns of economic development interventions and spatial administration. In mainstream development models the social question has been considered, yet local labor regime of precarity reproduce and are contingent upon poverty, thus structuring poverty through labor. In this sense, the social question is not necessarily marginalized by mainstream development planning, but is understood through growth logics, deferring realization of widespread benefits to a seemingly unattainable future of full employment in high-wage manufacturing. The social question in Mekong Southeast Asia is thus delimited by a low value-added growth model that selectively targets particular spaces, populations and economic sectors for development. This approach deepens tensions and scales up contestations from the border economic zone to the region.

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    Arnold, D. 2019. Migrants, Mobilizations, and Selective Hegemony in Mekong Asia’s Special Economic Zones. In: Breman, J et al (eds.), The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.74.f

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    Published on July 30, 2019