#explore power mondays: Saskia Sassen


There is an incipient unbundling of the exclusive authority over territory
and people we have long associated with the national state. The most strategic
instantiation of this unbundling is probably the global city, which operates
as a partly de-nationalized platform for global capital and, at the same
time is emerging as a key site for the most astounding mix of people from
all over the world…

The loss of power at the national
level produces the possibility for new forms of power and politics at the
subnational level. The national as container of social process and power
is cracked (Taylor 1995; Sachar 1990). This cracked casing opens up possibilities
for a geography of politics that links subnational spaces. Cities are foremost
in this new geography. One question this engenders is how and whether we
are seeing the formation of a new type of transnational politics that localizes
in these cities…

The de-nationalizing of urban space and the
formation of new claims by transnational actors, raise the question Whose
city is it? …

Globalization is a contradictory space; it is characterized by contestation,
internal differentiation, continuous border crossings. The global city
is emblematic of this condition. Global cities concentrate a disporportionate
share of global corporate power and are one of the key sites for its overvalorization.
But they also concentrate a disproportionate share of the disadvantaged
and are one of the key sites for their devalorization. This joint presence
happens in a context where (1) the globalization of the economy has grown
sharply and cities have become increasingly strategic for global capital;
and (2) marginalized people have found their voice and are making claims
on the city as well. This joint presence is further brought into focus
by the sharpening of the distance between the two. The center now concentrates
immense power, a power that rests on the capability for global control
and the capability to produce superprofits. And marginality, notwithstanding
little economic and political power, has become an increasingly strong
presence through the new politics of culture and identity, and an emergent
transnational politics embedded in the new geography of economic globalization.
Both actors, increasingly transnational and in contestation find in the
city the strategic terrain for their operations.

Saskia Sassen, The Global City: Strategic Site/ New Frontier

The Global City. New York. London. Tokyo, 1991

Johanna M

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