Very interesting essay by architect and theorist Keller Easterling in Design Observer concerning the grwoth and proliferation of ‘The Zone’ – the plethora of urban offshore economic spaces that have developed over the past century or so. Easterling traces the origins of these spaces back (at least) to the Roman port of Delos which prefigured many aspects of the freeport and the Export Processing Zone.
Although, as she argues, these contradictory ‘sovereign’ spaces are ancient, their contemporary spread is changing the nature of urban space – turning it, as she puts it, into “a mobile, monetized technology”. Whilst this itself is not new, the spread of these spaces, and the many different forms they now take suggests that any attempt to regulate them will be confronted with such a bewildering array of different ‘zones’ as to be utterly confounded. Certainly the history of attempts to rein in the excesses of such zones as tax havens and tax shelters (not that it has been particularly robust) is not encouraging.
I particularly like the concept of ‘extrastatecraft’ she develops – neatly encapsulating the contradictory process of a statecraft that is specifically intended to use the state to evade the state in any and all forms.