Jessica Quinn Slattery
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Irvine, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10153
Approve DateApril 8, 2021
Project TitleSlattery, Jessica (California, Irvine, U. of) "Spatial-Legal Futures: Experiments in Special Economic Zones and Private Governance on the Island of Roatán, Honduras"
Since 2011, the Honduran government has been collaborating with economists and venture capitalists from across the world to establish private special economic zones (SEZs) along the Honduran coast. These efforts culminated in the 2020 launch of Honduras Próspera: an SEZ under construction on the island of Roatán that will be governed by a private operating company. This research explores how Próspera pushes the conventional boundaries of SEZs, which have existed in Honduras in the form of maquiladoras (duty-free factories) since the 1970s. While SEZs already operate in Honduras and globally as spaces of economic exception, the architects behind Próspera seek not only deregulation. They are building a semi-autonomous community, nested within another country, that is governed by its own laws, institutions, and jurisdictional authority. Próspera is one site among a constellation of experimental zone projects being proposed in the Global South by venture capitalists seeking to pilot new forms of governance and jurisdiction. Its proponents hope that this project will set a broader precedent for establishing privately governed cities and zones across the world. My research examines this emergent SEZ as infrastructure, legal technology, and an experimental space for alternative governance within the changing global landscape of liberalism.