Elizabeth Lorraine Geglia

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Grant number

Gr. 10371

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Geglia, Elizabeth (Independent Scholar) "Homeland, Colony, State, or Company? Contesting Private City Development in Honduras"

Since a 2009 military coup dÕŽtat’, Honduran policymakers have partnered with economists, U.S. political advisors, and libertarian venture capitalists from the global ‘startup city movement” to develop Economic Development and Employment Zones (ZEDEs)’a special jurisdiction with high levels of judicial, legislative, and economic autonomy. Global startup city promotors saw the 2013 ZEDE Law as an opportunity to build ‘free private cities,’ ‘charter cities,’ and various iterations of libertarian territories, while many opponents in Honduras denounced the ZEDE model as a colonial project and a violation of national sovereignty. My work provides an ethnographic study of the process of ZEDE development in Honduras from 2014-2020. I examine the territorial ideologies of the tech-libertarian Startup City movement, of Honduran planners and policymakers, and of farmers and fishermen in the southern municipality of Amapala, where the first ZEDE was slated to be developed. I characterize ZEDEs as a project of territorial flexibilization which enables new modes of settler colonialism. However, I identified varying’at times divergent and at times overlapping’imaginaries and discourses of ZEDEs as different international and national actors promoted or resisted the ZEDE model. Similarly, different actors constructed and deployed their own conceptualizations of sovereignty, citizenship, and territory within this process.