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Global territories: zones of economic


and legal dis/ connectivity
a

Sven Opit z & Ut e Tellmann

Inst it ut e of Sociology, Universit y of Hamburg, Hamburg,


Germany
Version of record first published: 13 Dec 2012.

To cite this article: Sven Opit z & Ut e Tellmann (2012): Global t errit ories: zones of economic and
legal dis/ connect ivit y, Dist inkt ion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 13:3, 261-282
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Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory


Vol. 13, No. 3, December 2012, 261282

RESEARCH ARTICLE
Global territories: zones of economic and legal dis/connectivity
Sven Opitz and Ute Tellmann*

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Institute of Sociology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

This article develops a notion of global territoriality for understanding the


proliferation of special oshore zones in the context of globalization. It furnishes
an account of how political territoriality is used for shaping global dis/
connectivity. The argument is developed through the exploration of two distinct
cases of oshore zones that are usually not theorized as a common phenomenon:
one case is the nancial oshore center on the Cayman Islands, the other case is
the Australian oshore center for processing refugee claims on Christmas Island.
Whereas the one site deals with non-resident money, the other one administers
non-resident subjects. The article shows that despite the dierent aims that these
sites serve, they are homologous in how they employ territorial strategies for
modulating connectivity. We focus on three dimensions: the topological enfolding
of inside/outside relations, the bifurcation between legal and physical presence,
and a politics of visibility. By studying how these uses of territoriality entail a
recalibration of the obligations and accountability tied to monetary and legal
relations, this article develops a dierent notion of the global. Instead of
understanding the global in terms of scale, it suggests an understanding of the
global in terms of a politics of connectivity.
Keywords: connectivity; exception; global law; globalization; money; oshore;
territory; topology

Christmas Island is a small isle lost in the Indian Ocean. Tugged away from the
Australian mainland, surrounded by steep reefs, it can be reached only by a fourhour ight or by a supply ship that docks every ve to six weeks (Onishi 2009). It is
an island full of natural wonders; two-thirds of it is declared a national park. The
Cayman Islands are about 20 hours by plane from Christmas Island. It has equally
beautiful natural sites to oer for tourists. But it is unlikely that someone would ever
try to make that trip. These islands belong to very dierent types of global
circulation: one is known for handling non-resident money, the other is known for
processing non-resident subjects. Christmas Island has become infamous for its
asylum seeker detention center, instituted by the Australian government with the aim
of creating a hub for the oshore processing of refugees. The Cayman Islands are
infamous for their status as an oshore nancial center, oering a hub for migrant
money. They are both small islands and specic places. At the same time, they are
intimately tied to what has been described as the global space of ows from which

*Corresponding author. Email: ute.tellmann@wiso.uni-hamburg.de


ISSN 1600-910X print/ISSN 2159-9149 online
2012 Taylor & Francis
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1600910X.2012.724432
http://www.tandfonline.com

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S. Opitz and U. Tellmann

they gain their signicance. As we want to argue in this paper, they are both shaped
by what we call global territoriality.
The term global territoriality appears at rst sight to be an oxymoron. It links
two terms that have been taken to mark opposites. The global is often associated
with transcending the xity of territoriality. It has been linked to expansion and
planetary reach. Territory, by contrast, is often associated with the sovereignty of the
nation-state and the pacication of global movements. It is linked to tying people
and things to the ground. This common-sense dichotomy between the global and the
territorial is deeply rooted in political liberalism and also in early sociological
accounts of globalization. Both tend to understand the emergence of the global in
terms of a decline of the territorial. From this angle an oshore place like the
Cayman Islands must appear either as economically insignicant or as a sheer
anomaly. It does not t the understanding of money as a placeless medium (OBrien
1992; Simmel 1990). Likewise, Christmas Island must appear as an aberration to the
human rights regime, which was set up after the Second World War and came into
full force with the onset of globalization during the 1970s (Moyn 2010). This regime
aspires to protect individuals by the law irrespective of their location and political
aliation (Galli 2010, 11720). Consequently, an oshore processing regime on a
territory such as Christmas Island can only be an anomaly of global law. Taken in
sum, the talk of global territoriality runs against deeply rooted assumptions and
expectations about the universalism of law and money.
However, during the last decade the globalist (Tsing 2000) image with its sharp
dichotomies between the uid and the xed, the unbound and the bound, the global
whole and the territorially fragmented parts has also been subject to criticism by
anthropologists (Ferguson 2006; Ong 2006), political geographers (Elden 2005; Paasi
1998), and sociologists (Brighenti 2010b; Sassen 2006). Territoriality, according to
the general argument to be found in this literature, has not waned in its importance
but if anything has become more important as part and parcel of doing
globalization. In this light, oshore places such as Christmas Island and the
Cayman Islands are not anomalies of globalization but are at the heart of it. By
putting the global and the territorial into one conceptual coinage, this article intends
to further this line of research by studying oshore zones as a very specic link
between the territorial and the global (Tellmann 2009). We want to take the
heterogeneous insular sites of Christmas Island and the Cayman Islands as
exemplary cases for exploring two related conceptual questions: What kind of
form does territoriality assume in the context of producing and imagining global
circulation? And how do we have to modify our understanding both of the global
and the territorial when we are confronted with spaces that are both at once?
Following the recent methodological debates about socio-spatial investigations,
we study these questions by focusing on historically specic geographies as simple
entry points into a more complex inquiry on how networks and territories intersect
(Jessop, Brenner, and Jones 2008, 392). By looking at two dierent oshore zones as
a type of global territory, this article allows us to question the conceptual opposition
between topology and topography. This conceptual opposition imagines space either
to be constituted by networks and relations or to be demarcated by an older
topography in which territoriality was dominant (Amin, Massey, and Thrift 2003, 6).
In this understanding the notion of the network is juxtaposed to territory framed as
something more xed. But as Jones has recently argued, we should [. . .] not be
forced to adopt a network versus territories scenario (2009, 494; Painter 2010).

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The phenomenon of the oshore zone supports this view. It very much demonstrates
that territories and networks, topology and topography are linked. But how are we
to understand this interaction? How exactly is this link forged?
Christmas Island and the Cayman Islands might appear as a very specic
and rather peculiar choice for a comparative inquiry of global territoriality. While
the Cayman Islands are among the most well-known nancial oshore centers
since the 1970s, Christmas Island has only recently been picked by the Australian
government as a geographical location for managing what is considered to be a
threatening inux of refugees. Both territorial constructs have very dierent
histories. But despite their dierence, both can be looked at as paradigmatic cases
of global zones: they have both been established either in light of global ows of
money that one sought to attract or global ows of subjects that one hoped to
deter. They both belong to the phenomena of zoning strategies that have
commenced with the start of globalization and proliferated since the last decades.
Zones are here understood as specic juridico-territorial constructs that emerge by
parceling o a bounded area as a specic regulatory space. They are creatures of
political decree, and they have become ubiquitous in governmental rationalities
that hope to address a planetary horizon of circulation (Foucault 2008, 5175;
Elden 2007, 577). Jonathan Bach (2011) and Keller Easterling (2007) have recently
pointed out that although the zone is a key location for understanding processes
of globalization, it is generally an under-theorized and under-researched
phenomenon (Bach 2011, 116).
Drawing on and hoping to contribute to the existing scholarship on global
zones and territory, we propose to study the specic territoriality of global zones
in further depth. We seek to analyze what these territories do to the money and
subjects entering them, what kind of form they have, and how they are tied to the
imaginary of global circulations. We look at territoriality as a political technology
in the sense that Foucault (2007) has given this term, meaning that it belongs to
a strategic ensemble of governmental rationalities and practices. Specically, we
are interested in understanding how the phenomenon of creating spaces o the
map while in itself not a historical novelty belongs to negotiating the global
(Ruggie 1993). Our vantage point is the observation that the territorial strategy of
constructing such zones has proliferated in the era of globalization, surging from
a mere handful in the 1960s to over 5000 barely a lifetime later (Bach 2011, 100).
Zones can host very dierent practices: they can be about production regimes
aimed at export, as much as they can be about logistical hubs, knowledge, and
technology centers. They constitute border sites that control immigrants as well as
money they range, as Saskia Sassen (2005, 530) has put it, from banks to
bodies. These zones are constructed, maintained, and championed in light of a
liberal planetary horizon of circulation that they intend to serve. While not
exclusive to it, they seem to belong to our contemporary global assemblages in
particular ways (Ong and Collier 2004). Could it be that these zones help us
understand that the global might not be simply larger in scale than the nationstate, but is a dimension that is broken, poorly formed, [. . .] comes in patches
(Law 2004, 18) and, as such, is not about scale but more about dierent types of
connectivity?
It is important to note that the notion of the zone as a global form does not imply
a strict uniformity of the phenomenon. As the following exploration of the dierent
cases will bring into view, zones are versatile technologies, serving dierent aims and

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having dierent eects. But they also share common traits. By asking what the zone
does to the money or the subjects entering it, we are able to show that the
phenomenology of the zone is characterized by the following dimensions: it consists
rstly in a peculiar folding of inside and outside, secondly in the disjunction between
physical and legal presence, and thirdly in a politics of visibility. In each case, the zone
eects a modulation of relations, for example, between money and political space, or
between subjects and rights: they mark and unmark bodies as bearers of rights or
money as bearer of obligations. Using the notion of modulation, as coined by Deleuze
(1992, 47; 2003, 1167), helps to bring into focus that these spaces are mainly about
calibrating, undoing, or modifying relations, instead of being merely about
disciplining the subjects or objects that have come into its reach.
The remainder of this article proceeds as follows. The next section situates the
concept of global territoriality in the recent debate on territoriality and the global. It
claries what it means to look at territory as a political technology and introduces
the zone as a specic territorial form as part of what Aiwha Ong has called
graduated sovereignty. Drawing critically on the debate in human geography, we
want to argue that the territorial operation of zoning is not primarily about
demarcating possessions or bordering an exclusive polity and requires a more
topological approach to territoriality. The subsequent sections explore the meaning
of global territoriality by comparing the territorial form of Christmas Island and the
Cayman Islands, respectively. The following questions will be addressed: How
precisely does oshoring operate as a territorial strategy of zoning? How do the
oshores for processing non-resident money and non-resident subjects belong to the
same global form? And how do they articulate dierent entanglements of the global
and the territorial?
Territoriality, zones, and the global
The rst waves of globalization theory have today acquired a status of classics that
share the same mistaken presumption: they framed the global dimension mainly in
terms of spatial expansion and as an overcoming of the narrow bounds of the
territorial state. The global world appeared as a smooth space (Hardt and Negri
2000), a boundless space of ows (Castells 1996; Shields 1997), or a supraterritorial (Scholte 2005) domain that had overcome the narrow bounds of adjacent, clearly
demarcated states. The global implied that the only location was about being
situated on the planet earth (Scholte 1996, 1968). Undoubtedly, this aspiration to
think the global beyond the state was often linked to a well-founded critique of what
had been termed the territorial trap (Agnew 1994; Ruggie 1993). The global
dimension allowed questioning the geographically bounded, territorially demarcated
state as the basic unit of analysis. In hindsight it looks as if the laudable attempt of
leaving behind such methodological territorialism (Jessop, Brenner, and Jones
2008, 391) implied throwing out the baby with the bath-water. Since these early
accounts of globalization, the suspicion has grown that overcoming the territorial
trap only meant to fall into a non-territorial trap (Jones 2009, 494) in which
territoriality was wrongly thought to be irrelevant.
Today it is widely recognized that theories of globalization have been ill-served
by an implicit understanding of space that only oers the choice of thinking
internally contiguous, xed, and somehow pre-given territories on the one hand and
an image of the globe as if seen from outer space on the other hand: unied,

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planetary, all-encompassing (Jazeel 2001). In fact, as Neil Brenner (1999a; 1999b)


has argued already a decade ago, the notion of the global scale in many accounts of
globalization presupposes a concept of state territoriality simply writ large. His
argument insinuates that the territorial and the non-territorial trap might suer
from similar aws. They conceive of global space either as a pre-given geographical
container or [. . . as] a form of territoriality stretched onto the global scale (Brenner
1999a, 54). Hence, both traps emerge from the same implicit understanding of space.
If indeed the early notions of globalization were hampered by their implicit
commitment to an old notion of bounded space, one has to conclude that rethinking
the global and rethinking territoriality are co-determined. Avoiding the nonterritorial trap and the territorial trap alike thus implies that territory has to be
understood not as isomorphic, self-enclosed blocks of absolute space, but as a
mosaic that is neither congruent nor contiguous (Brenner 1999a, 53). Retheorizing territory is thus the key for a better understanding of the global, insofar as
it helps to conceptualize the contemporary multiplication of territories (Brighenti
2010b, 52). But rethinking territory is not an easy task as it embroils rethinking our
conceptions of space and the techniques for commanding and calculating it (Elden
2009, xxvii). Understanding territory has been the challenge a decade ago and still is:
Territorys time has come, or so it seems (Painter 2010, 1090). But how are we to
address the complex territorial logics of the present (Elden 2009, xviii, xx)?
We want to suggest that one fruitful vantage point for thinking the territorial
anew can paradoxically be found by going back to an old understanding of territory
as a contingent outcome of territorial practices (Delaney 2005; Paasi 2003). Robert
Sack had in his classical study on Human Territoriality (1986) dened territory as a
technology of power that wishes to aect, inuence, and control people,
phenomena, and relationships, by delimiting and asserting control over a geographic
area (Sack 1986, 19). According to Sack, territoriality can be used on dierent levels,
from the personal to the international, and for dierent purposes (1986, 1). As a
particular technology of power it performs two basic operations: rstly, territory is
about establish[ing] dierent degrees of access to people, things and relationships
(Sack 1986, 20). Secondly, its eect is the constitution of inside/outside demarcations
that can have dierent degrees of xity or depth. Sack emphasizes that territorial
strategies are never purely geographical. Territory always requires non-territorial
actions to back it up (Sack 1986, 16). Marking a territory might employ legal,
symbolic, military, or other means for signaling and parceling out a certain area.
Sacks notion of territoriality is still instructive, because it does not presume that
territory always has the same self-enclosed shape; it does not link territory solely to
the nation-state, nor does it naturalize territorial practices as belonging to a notion
of Lebensraum (Friedrich Ratzel). Furthermore, it allows understanding territory as
an eect of highly malleable and versatile strategic practices, which can result in
dierent forms of inside/outside relations. It enables one to take into view the
combination of spatial and non-spatial strategies for modulating inside/outside
relations (Opitz 2012, 11437). Sacks framing of territoriality certainly lacks
historical specicity, for which it has been rightfully criticized (Elden 2010). But this
lack can easily be rectied because his notion of territory is dened mainly on a
formal level. Even though this denition of territoriality oers only a very broad and
rather thin heuristic, it turns out to be fruitful for analyzing the specicity of global
territoriality. As can be seen below, particularly the notion of territory as modulating
access to relationships will be very important for understanding the global territory

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S. Opitz and U. Tellmann

as a form that can be articulated as part of dierent assemblages of power (Collier


2006, 400). Looking at territoriality as a composite of spatial and non-spatial
practices that engender particular types of boundedness and grant dierential access
to relationships allows for both sucient focus and openness in understanding the
phenomenon of oshores. It avoids the simple binary and epochal renderings of the
two eras of the territorial nation-state and of borderless globalization.
As already indicated above, this article focuses on the oshore zone as a
particular case of global territoriality (Bach 2011; Easterling 2007; 2008). We dene
the zone as a strategic construction or deployment of juridico-political territories.
These juridico-territorial enclaves have been linked to a notion of extrastatecraft,
meaning a type of infrastructure that disassembles the contiguous territory of the
state (Easterling 2008). Zones are bounded spaces, which are exempt from their
surrounding jurisdiction and constitute dierential regulatory spaces. They belong to
changing practices of sovereignty that create what we might call nested
exceptionalisms (Bach 2011, 99). Understanding the zone as a space of exception
highlights a crucial feature of the zone that consists in the juridical dierence that
exists between the onshore and the oshore zone. A zone is a space that is marked
o from its surroundings, either through a sovereign act of enclosure or through
using a given political territory as such dierential space (Brown 2010, 52). It is tied
to sovereignty as a border concept, insofar as the zone is dened by organizing the
space both inside and outside the entity (Brown 2010, 52).
Nevertheless, the notion of exception needs some clarication in this context,
given that the denition, which Giorgio Agamben (1998; 2005; Opitz 2011, 10511)
has given this notion, has been very prevalent in the recent years. Agamben refers to
the exception as a state in which the protection of law is suspended; he claims that
this situation of fundamental exposure to sovereign power without protection
irreducibly belongs to the making of territorial-sovereign law. But as Aiwha Ong has
already remarked, if one seeks to use the notion of exception for understanding the
strategic deployment of territoriality as part of always contested neoliberal
calculations, Agambens stark opposition between bare life and protected life
needs to be dierentiated (Ong 2006, 20). As we will show below, it would be
misleading to describe the oshore-processing zone on Christmas Island in terms of
a total absence of legal procedures as Agambens notion of exception would imply.
While abrogating the status of the legal subject, it upholds so-called global
standards, yet delinking them from political space and visibility. The case of the
Cayman Islands is an even more complicated case to t into the current debate on
legal and political exceptions as inspired by Agambens work. Money, while being
oshore, is never subjected to what Agamben calls the ban, describing a relation
without legal-political protection; quite the contrary, it enjoys a heightened status of
legal safety. Furthermore, cases such as the Cayman Islands require us to broaden
the understanding of the emergence of such zones: they are often the outcome of a
strategic deployment of a geopolitical position within a system of sovereign
territories, instead of being the internal shadow of an inward foundation of
sovereignty, as Agamben would have it.
Following Aiwha Ong, we suggest the conditional use of the notion of exception
for understanding the fragmentation of human territoriality in the interest of
forging variable and contingent connections to global circuits (2006, 19). We seek to
supplement her reading of neoliberalism as exception by focusing on other zones
than she does. The zones we are looking at are not mainly about techniques of

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optimization, which aim at subjects and productions. As we want to suggest, the


Cayman Islands and Christmas Island are about the dis/connectivity of law and
money itself. We look at these zones in terms of how they modulate what relations of
money or law are about. Our aim is to deepen the understanding of the very
phenomenology of the zone by asking: what kind of territorial bounds constitute the
phenomenon oshore? How are they linked to non-territorial demarcations? What
happens to legal and monetary relations when entering the zone?
By suggesting studying the zone as a particularly instructive case of global
territory, given that this modular form proliferated in this context, we do not want to
presume the meaning of global circuits or global networks that it belongs to. There
is no doubt that the liberal political imaginary of today thinks itself in terms of
networks and ows that are supposed to be molded and served by such territories of
exemption. Zones are consciously set up as super-corridors of nomadic capital or as
necessary spaces for managing allegedly global oods of migration. The metaphors
of uidity, water, and ows are conspicuous in the understanding of globalization and
often mislead us to imagine a continuous stream that is somehow pre-given (Ferguson
2006; Pryke 2006, 7). In analyzing those zones and their relations to the global, how
are we to avoid tapping unconsciously into such an imaginary of smooth liquidity?
Instead of presuming the world of global ows and nomadic capital, to which the
zone is perfectly tting, we argue that one has to analyze the constitutive role of these
territories for managing, establishing, or operating what we term global dis/
connectivity. The notion of connectivity takes up the question of circulation and
ow, but re-articulates it as a contingent and multidirectional relationality (see the
Introduction of this issue). There are no ows that precede the zone. Instead, we are
dealing with the making and unmaking of connectivity: between money, law, subjects,
spaces, obligations, and accountability. The modulation of relations and the access to
them is crucial for dening the role of global territories, as the following cases will
demonstrate.
Offshore finance and monetary connectivity
Monetary ows are often taken as the paradigmatic example for understanding
issues of globalization. No other aspect of globalization is so deeply tied to the
imaginary of globalism than the common-sense understanding of monetary ows.
Money is classically understood as de-territorialized, quickly changing hands and
spaces, eeing regulation, undermining boundaries, movable like quicksilver
(Simmel 1990). Yet, in contradistinction to this imaginary of money, global money
also occupies specic spaces (Clark 2005; Leyshon and Thrift 1997; Tickell 2000).
These spaces are not just the big stock exchanges and the big cities where
globalization is managed (Pryke 1991; Sassen 1991). These spaces of ows are also
found in the territorial enclaves and sovereign spaces that are known under the name
of oshore (Hudson 1996; Maurer 2005; Palan 2003; Roberts 1995). The attribute of
oshore conjures up a plethora of images, which range over exotic landscapes, brass
plates, beaches, nefarious business, and dirty money (Baker 2005). But while the
cases of dirty money have occupied the minds of government ocials, tax
departments, and non-governmental organizations, it is important not to forget
that oshore is a rather signicant site for what is considered global money (Palan
2003). As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) puts it, nancial oshore centers
have captured a signicant proportion of global nancial ows (IMF 2007, 3).

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The Cayman Islands are one of the oldest and well-established nancial oshore
centers. It is the fth largest nancial center in the world, the largest oshore mutual
fund registration center in the world and the second largest oshore insurance
center (Moodys 2010). It hosts at least a third of globally operating hedge funds. In
total, there are 72,994 oshore corporations registered at the Cayman Islands; the
islands are the domicile of 2 trillion dollars of banking assets (Cayman Islands
Government 2011a; GAO 2008; Sharman 2010). Oshore sites like the Cayman
Islands are used by multinational corporations but also by pension funds and
university endowments to handle cross-border relations of money. Oshores
facilitate combining investment streams from dierent countries in a single portfolio.
They make it easy to leverage more capital as the corporations licensed there are not
subjected to high capital requirements. Oshores have also become laboratories for
inventing and putting to work complex nancial instruments. The complexity of
international nancial services, their increasing cross-sectoral and cross-border
integration, and the sharing and transferring of risks across sectors and agents that
they allow nd their abode in oshore centers such as the Cayman Islands (IMF
2006, 9).
The Ugland House on 201 Church Street in George Town on the Grand Cayman
island has achieved some fame for being the registered home of 18,857 nancial
institutions (GAO 2008, 11). They t into this small building only because of the fact
that most of them have no physical presence there. These entities registered at
Ugland House are legally present, but not physically, and they are not allowed to
oer their service to those that are their neighbors in the physical space they inhabit.
These corporations pay a premium to reside somewhere other than where they are
actually located (Palan 2003, 4). They are there and not there at the same time. Their
legal personality is divided among dierent jurisdictions (Palan 2003, 106). The
very recombinatory possibility that the oshore allows between physical and legal
presence has been recognized to be at the core of the oshore phenomenon (Picciotto
1999): it allows negotiating degrees of being there. The inside/outside demarcation is
thereby modulated in a specic way. In order to understand the oshore as a general
global form one has to inquire more deeply into how precisely this complex and
elastic demarcation between the inside and the outside works.
Oshore places look on the surface like geographical places, but they are not.
They are regulatory spaces. Oshores are dened by a constitutive split or inner
cleavage, which is already signied in the very name oshore: oshores are o some
shore. But which shore (Hudson 1996, 107; 1998)? It is easy to underestimate the
complexity of what it means to be o some shore. All too often, oshore is only
understood as a relation between a major industrialized nation, considered onshore,
and a small island, understood as oshore. The relation between on- and oshore is
then described by the dierence of the density of regulation and tax regime that exist
at these two places. Onshore and oshore are competing in this account for a
presumed global ow of money to domicile in their territories and to generate
revenue for the state. While there is certainly truth to this narrative, its analytical
framing underestimates the internal cleavage that oshore is about. Oshore centers
like the Cayman Islands are not simply o the shore of the USA, for example. They
are in a sense also oshore to the Cayman Islands themselves: the foreign nancial
institutions registered at the Cayman Islands have mostly the status of being exempt
or are licensed in such a way that they are prohibited from trading with or providing
services to the Cayman Islanders themselves. Hence, we are dealing with combined

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splitting between countries and jurisdictions that thrive upon internal divisions, as
much as external ones.
The most recent Special Economic Zones Order from 2011 that instituted Cayman
Enterprise City is a case in point for the proliferation of shoring something o
internally. Not only insurance, pension funds, and hedge funds have their exempt
zone, but also a Media Park, an Internet and Technology Park, a Commodities and
Derivatives Park, an International Academic Park, as well as an Outsource Park, the
last-mentioned being designed as a small dedicated unit to facilitate the production
and manufacturing for SEZ-based businesses of products in other jurisdictions.
Each of these parks invites business to operate globally out of Cayman (Cayman
Islands Government 2012, 4, 8). Being onshore and oshore at the Cayman Islands
at the same time, while aiming at businesses that conduct oshore operations on
other shores this complex layering makes oshore an elusive category regardless of
whether it applies to nancial or to other economic practices. It comes not as a
surprise that dening a nancial oshore center is a dicult undertaking. Each
article on the phenomenon of oshore starts with a comment on the troublesome
eort to say what it is. The condition of oshore might be very much in the eye of
the beholder (Sharman 2010). This diculty of denition, one might say, resides in
the complex relationality of the oshore that is about internal and external cleavages
at once.
The complex enfolding of the inside and the outside also pertains to the
jurisdictional status of the Cayman Islands. At rst sight, the Cayman Islands
appear as a straightforward sovereign political space. The Cayman Islands employ
the conventions of political sovereignty, understood here as the fundamental right of
self-governing, for creating a regulatory space on a territory. But already this
seemingly clear starting-point has to be qualied: the Cayman Islands, just as some
other Caribbean islands in the net (Maurer 2001), are not an absolute independent
sovereign state, but a British Overseas Territory, which means that the nal executive
authority is vested in the British Crown. While assuming independence as a
territorial jurisdiction, the sovereign prerogative of making laws is restricted by the
constitutional bounds that are issued for the Islands by Great Britain. At the same
time, the constitution is geared towards political independence. Hence, it is neither
totally outside of Great Britain, nor inside of its jurisdiction. This simultaneity of
inside/outside paradoxically heightens the stability and exclusivity of this territorial
jurisdiction. It oers the guarantee that the tradition of common law will be
respected at the Cayman Islands and will not be undone by a radical political
change. As Moodys credit rating report nds, The Cayman Islands status as a
British overseas territory has contributed to its strong legal and accounting systems
(Moodys 2010). At the same time, the degree of jurisdictional independence also
oers a shield against the regulations of British law. The territorial construction of
this jurisdiction is of importance in this context as can be demonstrated in
comparison to the attempts to construct oshore on purely legal terms. There have
been eorts in the US during the 1980s to copy the oshore onto its own shore
simply by declaring some monetary deals to belong to a dierentiated set of rules.
But these oshore facilities, located geographically onshore, were suspected not to
oer sucient protection. Being part of a dierent jurisdictional territorial space
oers a trust of place that law itself does not achieve on its own (Hudson 1998, 23).
The enfolded quality of the inside/outside bifurcation is a crucial part of what
oshore is and where it is done (IMF 2007). It organizes certain kinds of distances

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and connectivity of money; it molds the type of relation that money is about. As the
most recent attempt to achieve an operational denition of oshore by the IMF
makes clear, it is exactly the relation between money and its context that is at stake in
oshore. The denition is relational itself as it designates oshore as a country or
jurisdiction that provides nancial services to nonresidents on a scale that is
incommensurate with the size and the nancing of its domestic economy (IMF 2007,
7). This denition points us towards the status of the money handled there: it is from
non-residents to non-residents, leading to an understanding of oshore that includes
the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom inter alia in one list
(IMF 2007, 15). In essence, oshore is thus about a modied relation between money
to a place: money is supposed only to ow through these sites, to be sent to and
recovered from non-residents, only acquiring a temporary and legal regulatory
presence oshore. As one fund manager explains, most customers do not understand
that the money never is literally there (Hudson 1996, 103). Oshore is a jurisdiction
that produces a distance between the money and its ocial domicile: it allows
modulating what moneys relation to space, to accountability, to obligation, to
visibility is about.
The distance that oshore constitutes to other jurisdictions does not only reside
in the formality of being subjected to a dierent set of laws. The regulatory space
itself is molded in a specic way: it grants money a specic anonymity through its
privacy or secrecy laws and thus institutes a distance from the sources that
money comes from. Switzerland is said to have invented this regulatory principle
that puts the condentiality between a banker and his client on par with the
relation between a patient and a doctor, while at the same time rendering it a crime
to convey information to a third party. Monetary privacy turns into a key issue
for constituting and contesting oshore (Palan 2003, 103; Donaghy 2002, 117).
Interestingly, the very specic privacy granted to money turns money into the
very anonymous medium that classical sociology assumed it to be in the rst
place: money becomes through such laws what it supposedly was all along
depersonalized and unmarked from any specic and restricted circulation (Zelizer
1989). While the relation of ownership is absolutely secured, the relations to where
money stems from, are loosened or hidden. The oshore nance industry proved
so successful at repackaging debt and diusing risk that no one could be quite sure
who owed what to whom (Sharman 2010, 2). It becomes almost impossible to
locate the money as part of a relation, such as income earned, gain accrued, or
revenue enforced.
While these relations of revenue and return are at the heart of why money ows
through the oshore-site after all it is about investments, gains, and keeping the
gain these whereabouts are invisible. Money gains uidity and is channeled
through the site of the oshore, regardless of where it comes from and where it goes
to and if it is a gain or a loss, an obligation, or the undoing of an obligation. What
oshore does and does not becomes visible if one takes into account that money
belongs to relations of payment, as Bill Maurer (2007; 2008, 171) suggested, meaning
that money belongs to a specic relation that determines obligations and returns.
Putting it dierently, and using Vivianne Zelizers (1989) phrase, one might say,
money is usually marked more than we expect. The oshore site makes it possible
through its jurisdictional set-up and the secrecy to undo this marking or negotiate
this marking. Money is channeled through a space that unmarks money from the
relations it comes from and where it goes through.

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The oshore site very much enhances moneys connectivity and anonymity
through the complex enfolding of inside/outside relations that it is about. The
imaginary of money as a pre-given ow does not account for how such global
territories partake in constituting this ow (Tellmann 2011). Instead of taking the
global ow of money as an analytical shortcut for understanding globalization, one
is better advised to look at how this imaginary takes part in constituting what it
describes. It is in this context instructive to take into view how the government of the
Cayman Islands looks at non-resident money. One might say that the governmental
agencies of the Cayman Islands treat money as such ow, insofar as they dispense
with rendering money visible in terms of the relations that it stems from. They do not
dierentiate according to the relations of income or gain that it enters into. While the
nancial institutions that are domiciled at the Cayman Islands are there precisely
because they use money as capital that is, for the pooling of investment funds, the
combination of dierent investors and cross-border investment, the making of new
breadths, depths, and amounts of investments and returns the Cayman Islands
frame money like a cash ow that runs through its pipes. Accordingly, no taxes on
salary or prot are due. As the Cayman Islands Government website states:
Following the abolition in 1985 of an annual head tax of CI$10 on all adult male
residents up to 60 years, there are no direct taxes in the Cayman Islands. There is no
income tax, company or corporation tax, inheritance tax, capital gains or gift tax.
(Cayman Islands Government 2011b)

The governmental revenue for the Cayman Islands comes instead from fees
mainly: from customs on imported goods, from fees for working permits, from fees
for company registration and licensing of banks and other nancial institutions, and
from stamp duty on property. Hence, for using the Cayman Islands as a conduit for
ones money and for employing those specialists and lawyers that handle this conduit
one pays a fee but no taxes on prot. Money is not looked at as belonging to certain
circuits of income, but treated as a pure and naked medium, like a ow of water.
Fees are due for using the pipes.
The oshore site for money is a construction that goes beyond the certainly
important issue of tax evasion. It raises much broader issues of how money is
constituted as a global ow, what kind of relation it is made to have, and which of
them are visible to whom. While money is easily understood to have the quality of
being de-territorialized and boundless just by itself, the foregoing discussion showed
that this quality is produced by the recombinatory possibilities opened up through
the oshore. Money is not everywhere the same. Its globality consists in a particular
marking and unmarking of circulations; it is entailed by the specic visibility and
invisibility of these relations. If oshore is the global economy (Maurer 2008, 160,
emphasis in original), this quality might precisely reside in the particular
recombination of ownership, liability, and visibility.
Offshore processing and legal connectivity
Just like money, law has been recently captured by the imaginary of globalism. This
is in many ways surprising, given that law has been traditionally linked to the
territory of the state and not to the image of the borderless world. According to the
Westphalian model, national laws validity ends where the next states legal order
claims its space. However, today a new form of global law is said to emerge,

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reaching beyond the connes of classical international law. Looking at the globe
through conceptual prisms such as transnational law (Zumbansen 2012) or global
constitutionalism (Peters 2009), dierent authors concur in the diagnosis of a
general trend towards legal de-territorialization. Human rights law is a case in point:
in sentencing crimes such as genocide or torture occurring anywhere on the globe,
courts apply principles such as ius cogens (i.e. that certain norms are binding on all
states) and erga omnes (i.e. that certain norms are owed to the entire world
community) to instantiate laws borderless scope (Sassen 2008; de Wet 2006).
Consequently, some legal scholars have fully abandoned the concept of territory in
order to delineate a global law without the state (Fischer-Lescano and Teubner
2004, 1008 f.). But even where territory is kept as a category, it is seen to be a
remainder of a fading world order, somehow continuing to play a legal role, but with
minor, diminished signicance (Raustiala 2006).
It is against this background of successive legal de-territorialization and universal
legal expansion that we would like to look at a specic case of oshore processing
that seems at rst sight very dierent from the case of nancial oshore: the zoning
strategies used for modulating the accessibility of basic rights for non-resident
subjects in search of protection. Our case for exploring this specic type of oshore is
the Australian immigration policy of the last decade. This policy had been adopted
after a series of maritime refugee incidents in 2001 most notably the case of the MV
Tampa, where 433 people rescued on the Norwegian container ship were blocked
from disembarking on Australian land (Crock 2003). At the heart of the package of
legislation that soon became known as the Pacic Strategy was the exemption of
coastal areas from the Australian onshore in order to facilitate oshore processing of
refugee claimants arriving by boat. In an amendment of the Migration Act 1958
Australia declared parts of its territory to be excised oshore places. These places
were legally split o from the migration zone as the Australian mainland was newly
called. According to section 5 of the Act, to enter Australia means in relation to a
person [. . . to] enter the migration zone. Conversely, to enter the excised places
would mean to enter a zone that is not Australia. But where is this zone instead?
Where does a person land who enters an excised place? And what does this place do
with the person entering it?
The two last-mentioned questions are, indeed, interconnected. The excision of
oshore places coincided with the creation of a distinct legal persona: the oshore
entry person who possessed limited rights in comparison to the regular onshore
claimant. Whereas people who reach the migration zone were still allowed to apply
for protection visa, unauthorized arrivals in the excised oshore places, sometimes
only a few kilometers away from the mainland, were subjected to a dierent legal
procedure. They could at best hope for the discretion of the Australian Minister for
Immigration and Citizenship for allowing them to enter and apply for a visa, but it
was not their unconditional right. Hence, the legally inferior status of the oshore
entry person became intimately tied to the territorial creation of a paradoxical notAustralia, i.e. a place that is not exactly Australia but that, at the same time, does
not belong to any other country (Budz 2009, 23). In fact, the excised territories
entertain a rather vexed relation of inside/outside to the mainland. On the one hand,
the act of legal excision makes them appear to be clearly separated from Australia.
On the other hand, they remain tied to Australia not only because Australia used
its territorial jurisdiction to create these zones, but also because persons that nd
themselves in these territories were regarded as having trespassed onto Australian

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territory without being entitled to do so, that is, without a valid visa. For this reason
the Migration Act denes them in section 46A as unlawful non-citizens. This means
that people who enter one of the 4891 islands (The Senate 2002, 13) that have been
removed from the migration zone might be, in a certain sense, both physically
present in Australia and, at the same time, legally absent (Basaran 2008, 345).
The bifurcation between the paradoxical not-Australia and the main Australia
was deepened by complementary regulation that allowed for sending applicants for
asylum from the excised territories to a so-called declared country, where their
claims were processed. In other words, they were shifted to a dierent jurisdiction.
Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding both with Nauru (not a
signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and, interestingly, also a very shady
nancial oshore place) and Papua New Guinea (a signatory, but subject to
signicant reservations) in order to establish processing facilities for the refugee
status determination. The oshore entry persons, thus, found themselves not simply
only outside of the Australian migration zone, but in a camp within the borders of a
former colony. While Australia provided nancial aid and police assistance to both
countries and Australian immigration ocials conducted the refugee status
determination, Australian law was not the basis of their procedures. Being in a
declared country, the UNHCR processing regime was said to be applied, while the
camps were run by the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration
(IOM), itself not part of the UN System (Penovic and Dastyari 2007, 35, 51). Being
o-the-shore from Australia, but not fully in another jurisdiction, the oshore entry
persons were simply treated as if they were located in an overseas refugee camp
(Basaran 2011, 97). This included, in particular, a lack of legal assistance and no
provisions for judicial review of rejected asylum claims. Finally, even a successful
refugee application did not entitle a claimant to settlement in Australia, with the
consequence that recognized refugees were kept for lengthy periods, in some extreme
cases for years, in detention.
With a new government coming into power in 2007, the detention centers on
Nauru and Papua New Guinea were closed down, and oshore processing has been
redirected to the excised territories. Since 2002 around $400 million had been spent
on building a high-tech detention facility on Christmas Island, which is run by the
private contractor Global Solution Ltd and holds a capacity between 800 and 1,200
people:
It has electric fences and microwave probes for detecting movement; there are camera
systems posted under eaves, on roofs and in every room; and the whole camp is linked
by CCTV to a remote control room in Canberra. The detainees [. . .] wear electronic
identication tags which identify them wherever they are in the center by locator
beacons. (Grewcock 2008, 364)1

In 2008 the refugee status determination has been mainly transferred to the
excised territory of Christmas Island which is legally designed as a space in-between:
the determination process is supposed to be non-statutory but compliant with
Australias international legal obligations.
As Foster and Pobjoy (2011, 58999) outline in their extensive analysis, the
oshore processing on Christmas Island constitutes a ghostly double of the
counterparts on the mainland. Law itself becomes thereby equivocal. To begin with,
neither the form of legal assistance available to oshore entry persons via the
Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS) nor the form of

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review oered by the Refugee Status Assessment Review Panel (RSARP) meets the
standards established in the onshore system. Both the legal qualication and the
independence of the providers are highly questionable. For example, IAAAS agents
are not supposed to be lawyers, while reviewers do not necessarily hold a statuary
oce. Moreover, denite and non-ambiguous criteria for decision-making are
lacking. Immigration ocers and reviewers operate on the basis of draft Manuals
that claim to provide only guidance, but no enforceable rules. Hence, although they
refer to the Refugee Convention, UNHCR documents, the Australian Migration
Act, and Australian case law, the norms laid down in these documents are not
considered to be binding. Consequently, decision-making exhibits a highly
discretionary character. In fact, the decisions by immigration ocers and reviewers
ocially merely count as recommendations. For oshore entry persons being nally
able to apply for (not: to receive) protection visas, they depend on a retroactive act of
Ministerial discretion under section 46A of the Migration Act. This discretionary act
is considered to be non-compellable and non-reviewable. Thus, the creation of
oshore zones allow for normatively unrestrained and in this sense truly sovereign
decision-making.
One can clearly see from this brief reconstruction that Australian immigration
policy has relied upon a complex set of territorial operations of zoning during the
last decade. For understanding the production of excised territory one has rst to
acknowledge how this territory works within, between, and against existing
territorial frames (Elden 2009, xx; Vaughan-Williams 2008). One has to address,
just as in the case of nancial oshore centers, the complex layering of inside/
outside. The excised territory confuses the distinction between the modern world
order of territorial segments and its contemporary, mostly liberal counter-vision of a
de-territorialized new world order with disaggregating sovereignty (Slaughter
2004). Such a distinction leaves no space for conceptualizing the territorial folding
that turns the inside out but keeps it within its reach which is exactly the
topological twist performed by the oshore territory. Furthermore, what might seem
as an anomaly both within a Westphalian and a post-Westphalian frame could in
fact be a paradigmatic phenomenon of the present logics of territory that nd their
visible expression in the proliferation of dierent types of zones. As a space inbetween, oshore simultaneously constitutes and secures a zone of legal ambiguities
(Basaran 2011, 102). The territorial enclosure gives way to blurred responsibilities, a
lack of binding criteria, and discretionary powers that deny the protection of law to
the subject.
Just as the nancial oshore changes the type of relation that money enters into,
the territorial construction of the oshore zone for processing refugee claims is about
a changed and modulated relation of the subject to law. Usually, at least within the
liberal framework, the connection between subject and law is paradigmatically
enshrined in the possibility to appeal to a court and in the guarantee of due process.
Oshoring subjects to remote and dierential regulatory spaces challenges this
relation. The territorial strategy of oshoring diminishes the access to the circuits of
legal connectivity by both physical and legal means (Opitz 2012, 129). It restricts
access to rights through restricting the opportunities for articulating a legal claim. To
use a spatial metaphor, the territorial strategy distances the subject from the legal
centers. At the same time, it also executes a partition of the legal sphere. In allowing
for connections to administrative processes designed to comply with abridged forms
of refugee law, it disconnects at the same time from more substantial legal

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provisions. The global law is in this case a weakened and ambiguous execution
of global conventions, with extremely limited possibilities to hold this executive
accountable in practice. In the case of oshore processing, territory, thus, constitutes
a legal technology for modulating the relation between subjects and law in a deeply
restrictive manner. It results in producing a subject that is physically abducted,
exposed to an executive power that is only loosely bound by its legal obligations,
while the subject is lacking substantive means to appeal to a law that might hold
these powers accountable.
This analysis clearly demonstrates that the widespread metaphors of the legal
hole or the ban as well as the vocabulary of legal exceptionalism do not fully
capture the complexity of the territorial strategy (Johns 2005). First and foremost,
a lot of legal reasoning and legal expertise has owed into the construction of the
oshore territory. In this sense, oshore places are places not emptied of but
suused with law. Moreover, even though explicit strategies of judicial exemption
and territorial division are involved, these strategies of fragmentation do not
produce clear-cut boundaries. As Eyal Weizman (2007, 4) has remarked in a
dierent context, the territories of eective control currently become fragmented,
dynamic, and thus unchartable by conventional mapping techniques. At the same,
the elasticity and ambiguity of these spaces also allow for contestation. Australia,
to begin with, has never denied its international legal obligations. Unsurprisingly,
competing interpretations of international law and especially human rights law
have soon emerged, together with the competing evaluation of Australias state
practice as illegal (Doussa 2007). Furthermore, the relocation of the oshore
processing from third countries to excised territories has brought refugee status
determination closer to constitutional litigation. The struggles about these
territorial zones are on-going.2
In any case, territory itself plays an active role for how these contestations will
unfold. Territorial strategies rely on the remoteness and inaccessibility of the
location of these zones. Christmas Island is so small and secluded that it is certainly
out of sight. A 17-year-old boy from Afghanistan who has been detained on the
island puts it as follows: When we studied geography our teachers never showed us
Christmas Island [. . .] if we look at a world map, Christmas Island is hiding in the
map. Its so small (cited in Chambers 2011, 19). Geography itself oers a veil of
secrecy, since the territorial enclosure controls both people entering and people
leaving. Restraining access to law is coupled with restraining movements across
territorial borders (Brighenti 2010a). Hence, oshores are technologies to shield a
certain conguration of legal connectivity from the permanently on-going struggle
for law. How far the dream of a global cosmopolitan law will come true depends on
such struggles. But the global will never be about a law that exists beyond territory.
Instead, it revolves around the question about who will be able to achieve legal
presence and political voice in particular situations by particular means. If the
oshore is the global, then this quality might lie for both cases precisely in the
particular recombination of space, obligation, and visibility.
Conclusion the zone as a global form
Christmas Island and the Cayman Islands are both juridico-political zones that
disrupt the conventions of the Westphalian model of political territory. They are
jurisdictions of a specic sort. Trying to come to grips with the phenomenon of

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nancial oshore site, the IMF denes with surprising acuity such jurisdictions as a
territorial entity that is not a country or a state as commonly understood by
international law and practice but an overseas territory under the sovereignty of
another state (typically a former colony or dependency) or an enclave (2007, 4).
As such they deploy territoriality in a way that dees the mapping strategies of the
Westphalian world, without necessarily dissolving national space. They are postWestphalian, if one understands, as Wendy Brown has suggested, the prex post as
signaling a very particular condition of afterness in which what is past is not left
behind, but gives way to a present that nevertheless also breaks in some way with
this past (Brown 2010, 21). Zones exist in the interstices of this system and act as
laboratories for recalibrating what legal and monetary relations are about and how
they are tied to political space. Territory is in both cases a crucial political
technology, but its role shifts. Territoriality works in one case to weaken legal
protection and in the other case to strengthen it. The zone is in one case about
enhancing moneys uidity and recombinatory powers and in the other case
about undoing the possibilities of subjects to negotiate their legitimate modes of
movement.
Even though the oshore zones that we have compared are very dierent in their
eects and purpose, they both exhibit a structural analogy. The analysis presented
above has sought to lay bare such common structure. This commonality consists in
three dimensions: a complex enfolding of the inside with the outside, a bifurcation
between physical and legal presence, and a politics of visibility. In this conclusion, we
want to discuss these three dimensions in a comparative fashion. We want to clarify
in which ways we can talk about the oshore zone as a global form, meaning that
we have to specify both what its form is and in which sense it is global.
It is striking to see that the operations of unmarking of money and unmarking of
bodies as rights holders are procedures that both rely on installing a discontinuity of
legal and physical presence.3 Palan (2003, 106) has noted for the case of economic
oshores that oshore starts with questioning the legal unity of the subject, hence
allowing the separation of physical presence and the dierential interpretation of
legal presence. But the meaning of this separation diers widely if we compare
nancial oshores with oshores for processing refugee claims. In the one case,
money is legally present in these places, but physically absent. Moneys legal
presence is clearly circumscribed and dened. The legal address, so to speak, of the
monetary account in the jurisdiction allows the relation of ownership to be secured
and clearly denes the courts and procedures of appeal. For subjects brought to the
oshore processing zone, the opposite holds true. They are physically present at the
oshore, forcefully brought there and bound by techniques of incarceration, while
their legal presence is far from unequivocal. If the term virtual applies, it does less
so to money with its clearly dened and protected legal oshore address than to the
oshore entry person who nds herself confronted with an ambiguous set of rules
and the inability to appeal properly to the courts or communicate with lawyers. The
subject is bound to space while unhinged from appealing to law in a guaranteed and
reliable way. While nancial oshores amplify the connectivity of money, asylumprocessing oshores stall legal connectivity. Splitting the legal and physical presence
can have opposite eects, depending on at which end one nds oneself.
Each of the oshore territories is dened by peculiar inside/outside relations. The
inside/outside relation between onshore and oshore is refracted. In the case of
oshore nance, it is remarkable that oshore places often emerge in former colonies

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and dependent territories. These are not completely independent and sovereign
states. The Cayman Islands bind their sovereign powers to make law to a long
tradition of common law of the British Empire. By undoing full sovereignty, the
restrictions of common law are enhanced. Territorial jurisdictions are here safe
havens of legal procedures, oering a place from where monetary connectivity can
safely be sought. The opposite is true for the subjects that nd themselves in the
territorial enclaves of oshore asylum procedures. They are captured in territorial
connes that also have a refracted relation to territorial sovereignty. But this
time such refracted relation does not enhance the guarantees of legal procedure; it
does not bind sovereign discretion. On the contrary, being outside of Australias
jurisdiction means here to be within the reach of executive power but outside of the
full domain of rights. In this territory that is neither inside nor outside of the
sovereign state, the law ceases to work as a means of guaranteeing protection,
oering anything but a safe haven to the subject in its reach.
As we have argued before, territory is more than a geographical and even more
than a juridical construct. The case of oshore zones makes that abundantly clear.
While being about both geography and legal technique, they are also prominently
tied to a modulation of visibility and invisibility. In the case of monetary oshores
the issue of visibility is of highest concern. It is part of constructing the boundaries of
this territory: the oshore is a truly protected zone, only insofar as the privacy of
monetary relations is guaranteed by a penal code and hence ensured against any
curiosity from the outside. It only fullls its functions in the circulation of money
because it links territory to such informational protection. Struggles to penetrate this
invisibility and protect it signal the importance of secrecy. Secrecy allows enhancing
moneys potentiality for disconnecting from the marked circulations it stems from. It
turns money into an anonymous medium that is unmarked and hence multiplies its
connectivity. Visibility implies traceability: it enables one to link money to the
circulations it stems from and is obliged to.
For the case of asylum-processing oshores, visibility and invisibility have a
similar eect but are dierently produced. Whereas the invisibility of money is
constituted by a legal code, the invisibility of the refugee as a legal subject is a byproduct of the geographical territory itself. Far away from the mainland on an island
that is not even on every map of the world, the geographical location of this territory
makes sure that those incarcerated are out of sight. Political strategies to undo such
invisibility usually consist in using social media to produce visibility that is otherwise
suppressed. However, the territorial distancing also complicates such political
counter-strategies (Bailey 2011). For money as for these subjects, the invisibility
undercuts the problematization of political accountability and responsibility. The
means and ways of executive power that are shielded from public scrutiny and legal
control have always been regarded as a threat to democracy. In this sense, the
oshore can be linked to the general rise of government secrecy that is tied to
making the global dimension within the state, as Saskia Sassen has argued (2006,
179).
However, the very distribution of what is private and secret takes dierent forms.
For the case of money, the privacy of its whereabouts is granted, whereas nonresident subjects are exposed to governmental scrutiny and the executive power is
not. Looking at this rather dierent use to which the construction of the zone is put,
this comparison nevertheless brings out the odd commonality of its form. Across all
dierences, there seems to be a tendency to assort secrecy and privacy in a way that

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shifts the role of law away from being an instrument of democratic protection and
contestation. The zone, it seems, is a modulator. It shifts accountability and
visibility, it re-arranges the relations between inside and outside, it organizes
monetary and legal dis/connectivity. It enhances or stalls the recombinatory powers
of money, it frames who can connect to legal protection, it changes the type of
relation that money and law have to political space. The zone is about relations and
the access to them: that between subjects and law, between money and marked
circulation, between executive power and democratic control, between spaces of
control and political contestation. Is the global anything but such modulation?
The zone, thus, belongs in specic ways to the forging of global connectivities. As
Jonathan Bach has noted, the zone is a liminal space insofar as it functions as key
node [ . . . in a] materially heterogeneous network a network that generates a
particular depiction of space emerging from an interaction between linear spaces and
network spaces (Bach 2011, 115). But how are we to understand this interaction? If
we frame this interaction in terms of global ows that are larger in scale than these
territorial hubs and that hit these spaces from the outside, one already deploys a
certain understanding of the global in terms of scale and uidity. While the
metaphors of uidity, ow, and oods sweeping the globe as a territorial unit are
conspicuously present when issues of globalization are discussed be it in terms of
nancial tsunamis, oods of immigrants, or the slippery nature of money in general
these metaphors should not unconsciously delimit the analytical imagination. The
comparative analysis of the zone as a specic territorial form allows us to go beyond
this globalist imaginary. The global might be less a scale larger than a territorial
space but consists of types of relations and recombinations of relations: who and
what is allowed to recombine and gain speed and uidity; what forms of
accountability are put into practice; and what types of enfolding between the inside
and the outside enhance or diminish the control of executive power all these aspects
are modulated in the zone, but the zone does not predetermine what kind of
modulation will take place.
Notes
1.
2.

3.

For further details see also the entry on the website of the Global Detention Project:
http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/asia-pacic/australia/introduction.html.
By the end of 2010 the High Court rejected the view held by the government that oshore
processing on Christmas Island was non-statutory. The government reaction has been
twofold: On the one hand, it declared its intention to continue oshore processing on
excised territories, yet promised to introduce some procedural changes in compliance with
the courts decision. On the other hand, plans about a new regional solution resurfaced,
this time including arrangements with Malaysia.
This phrase stems from one our anonymous reviewers. We found it so apt and beautifully
rendered that we allow ourselves to use it even though we can only acknowledge the
author anonymously.

Notes on contributors
Sven Opitz (Dr.) is lecturer in sociology at the University of Hamburg. He teaches social
theory with a focus on the linkages between classical sociologies and post-structuralist
approaches. In his research he investigates the intersections of law and security, combining
systems theorys process ontology with de- and post-constructivist approaches. His current
research explores processes of norm generation in emergencies and logics of epidemic
contagion as a mode of connectivity. Recent publications include: An der Grenze des Rechts:
Inklusion/Exklusion im Zeichen der Sicherheit (Velbruck 2012), and Government unlimited:

Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory

279

The security dispositif of illiberal governmentality in Governmentality: Current Issues and


Future Challenges, ed. U. Brockling, S. Krasmann, and T. Lemke (Routledge 2011).
Ute Tellmann (PhD) is currently Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Hamburg. She
teaches social theory and political theory with a focus on cultural economy and historical
epistemology. Her research addresses the cultural and political underpinnings of economic
discourses, economic temporality, and collectivity. She is currently working on the question of
debt and infrastructure as a hybrid economic connectivity. Most recent publications include
Catastrophic populations and the fear of the future: Malthus and the genealogy of liberal
economy in Theory, Culture, Society (forthcoming).

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