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About Saskia Sassen


Saskia Sassen is professor of sociology at Columbia University, New York. Her latest book is, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global EconomyCambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press/Belknap, June 2014. 


Articles by Saskia Sassen

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Saskia Sassen at DiEM25's "Next stop 2019?"

"You don’t need to change everything to bring foundational change." (Video, 5 mins)

Trust - in a system built in stone

We need to gain distance from the state, even as we make claims. And the claims we make should serve a dual purpose. Interview.

Shrinking economies, growing expulsions. We need Greece's Syriza. (Part Two)

What takes extreme forms in some countries, including Greece, is actually taking place in milder ways in many developed countries considered to have recovered from the crisis--from the US to the Netherlands. See part one here.

Shrinking economies, growing expulsions. We need Greece's Syriza. (Part One)

What takes extreme forms in some countries, including Greece, is actually taking place in milder ways in many developed countries considered to have recovered from the crisis--from the US to the Netherlands. See part two here.

Thursday, September 24, 2014

The EU-US free trade agreement (TTIP): giving rights to firms, taking jobs from modest communities

If global corporations gain rights, do citizens also? We now know the answer: No.

What all is getting expelled...and once expelled is invisible

Low growth, unemployment, inequality, and poverty are no longer reliable markers for capturing the 'economic cleansing' afflicting European institutions and societies throughout Europe. This 'works' on the backs of all those who have simply been expelled.

Saskia Sassen


Bringing the political economy back into the city

Saskia Sassen 

It’s 2030. Governments are poor and in hock to big banks. The urban poor and the impoverished urban middle classes in rich countries have had to scramble to survive . Bit by bit they have inserted a self-made urban political economy into the larger national/global economy of their countries. It is partial, but it works. Since it deals with the basics and with what people on their own can actually do, across the world these urban political economies are quite similar. They all have such basics as urban farming and small credit-unions. Skill-exchanges, rather than stock-exchanges, and repairing rather than replacing with new products, are also basic features. When feasible, furniture and other essentials are fabricated or grown in the city and its region–no more unnecessary shipping that benefitted mostly the intermediaries and their lawyers and financiers. The rest of goods come through fair-trade networks, another self-made political economy connecting production sites with neighborhoods and cities. They also have had to take over some basic public services, such as garbage collection/recycling and develop home-based healthcare in the neighborhoods – they had to do something since local governments are so poor that they have had to cut all except advanced hospital care. 

People rotate just about everything—including daily cooking – at whatever level works – a cluster of homes, the block, the neighborhood. People need each other to make it all viable. Artists and musicians are everywhere -- part of the urban fabric and a bridge to the finer experiences in life. Trust, reliability, exchange and collectivity are the key.  Nobody is rich, and we are still highly imperfect beings, but it all works…. Actually....we don’t need to wait until our  governments are even poorer and more in-hock to  the big banks! We could start building these urban political economies now!


Evan Browning - all rights reserved

This week’s theme: Failures of the Liberal State and responses on the ground

In thinking through the issues we were struck by how often failures happen at the level of the national state nowadays and remedies, responses, the making of solutions… all tend to happen at more local levels, from cities and villages to translocal networks and neighbourhoods.

Immigration: control vs governance

The state of Arizona’s clampdown on unauthorised residence is part of a wider political drive to control population-flows. The approach is regressive and unworkable, says Saskia Sassen.

A global financial detox

The world's major economies are shackled by their financial addiction. A tax on financial transactions could be the route to a cure, says Saskia Sassen.

The new executive politics: a democratic challenge

A generation of neo-liberal policies continues to feed the growing power of the executive branch within the west's political systems. A mapping of this process is essential if parliaments and citizens are to create a better democracy, says Saskia Sassen.

(This article was first published on 25 June 2009)

Too big to save: the end of financial capitalism

The financial logic of neo-liberal capitalism has devoured the world and exhausted itself in the process. A new model beyond "financialisation" is needed, says Saskia Sassen.

Cities and new wars: after Mumbai

The attacks on India's commercial capital belong to a global frontline of asymmetric urban warfare, says Saskia Sassen.


The new wars and cities: after Mumbai


The attacks on India's commercial capital are a harbinger of a new type of urban warfare, says Saskia Sassen


The new new deal

In the wake of the Wall Street meltdown, the United States government plans to dedicate at least $700 billion to underwriting the country's financial system. The money should instead be used to rebuild the real economy and break the boom-bust cycle, says Saskia Sassen.

Fear and strange arithmetics: when powerful states confront powerless immigrants

It is surprising to see the high price in terms of ethical and economic costs that powerful ‘liberal democracies' seem willing to pay in order to control extremely powerless people who only want a chance to work. Immigrants and refugees have to be understood as a historical vanguard that signals major ‘unsettlements' in both sending and receiving countries.

The world’s third spaces

Between national and global levels, a fresh landscape of territory, authority and rights is being opened. It may look messy, but it is part of a new reality in the making, says Saskia Sassen.

Lahore: urban space, niche repression

Pakistan's arc of protest leaves its most historic and political city unmoved, finds Saskia Sassen.

Globalisation, the state and the democratic deficit

The forces of globalisation and neo-liberalism are changing the power-relations within democratic states, says Saskia Sassen of Columbia University. This makes British prime minister Gordon Brown’s new proposals to transfer powers to the legislature a landmark moment.

Migration policy: from control to governance

In the United States and Europe alike, immigration policy isn't working – and the failure is most evident at the crossing-points of the rich and poor worlds, from the Mexican border to the Canary Islands, says Saskia Sassen.

It may look like one step forward and two back, but the European Union has actually accumulated a series of innovations that move it towards governing, rather than controlling, immigration inside the EU. This move towards governing is gaining strength even as national governments in the EU continue to speak the language of control.

A state of decay

Francis Fukuyama's vision falls short of recognising how the deficits in liberal democracy are being generated from within, says Saskia Sassen.

Free speech in the frontier-zone

"There is a new frontier-zone today, and we are in it." Saskia Sassen sees the Danish cartoon conflict as part of the making of a new global territory where principles like free speech are being renegotiated.

Fear and camouflage: the end of the liberal state?

In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. Forty-nine of openDemocracy’s distinguished contributors, from Mariano Aguirre to Slavoj Zizek, Neal Ascherson to Jonathan Zittrain – offer their predictions for the coming year. Since this is openDemocracy, we did not expect them to agree. We were not disappointed. (Part Two)

A universal harm: making criminals of migrants

The policing of global 'people flow' criminalises migrants and thus feeds the business of human trafficking. An extreme version of this trend is the experience of women, mostly from Asia and the former Soviet Union, trapped into sex slavery and prostitution. The safe lives and civil rights of people in the rich countries of the north cannot remain untouched by the enormous damage caused by such inhumane and unsustainable processes. There must be a better way.
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