Professor Dr. Saskia Sassen



Parts of our economies, societies, and states are being stripped bare by an extreme form of predatory capitalism. My utopia is that when so many new people come to cities there is going to be a lot of making—making of sub-economies, not the economy. Making of urban agriculture, making of buildings that work with the environment. People of modest means will use their imaginations; they will understand how to make air circulate so that mosquitos are less likely to come in. They will work and have that knowledge—that is my optimistic scenario. So even a modest, poor slum will have people that know that the shack that they are building is part of larger systems.

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Urban Sociologist, Thought Leader, Global Economist, Global Urbanist, Globalist & Diasporist

Saskia Sassen is the leading urban theorist of the global world – a Dutch-American sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She is Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, co-chairs the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University and Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. In 1991, Sassen coined the term ‘Global City’ to describe the network of connections that would support these cities’ resurgence on an international scale – has influenced major developments in urban sociology, global politics, economics, and immigration. Sassen is an influential advocate of equity and sustainability who recently organized a network of researchers and activists in over 30 countries for a UNESCO project on sustainable human settlement. Her project Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (2006) argued that although globalization is traditionally considered a “denationalizing” process, it continues to be shaped by national structures such as government firms, legal systems, and citizens. Winning multiple awards, this project further cemented Sassen’s position as a global thought leader. Her most recent book, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Environment (2014), describes an interconnected rise in the global phenomena of income inequality, unemployment, displaced populations, and accelerated environmental destruction. Her second multi-year project led, among other publications, to The Global City; the global economy far from being placeless needs very specific territorial insertions, and that this need is sharpest in the case of highly globalized and digitized sectors such as finance. Her third multi-year project led to the award-winning Territory, Authority and Rights; that today’s partial but foundational globalizations, from economic to cultural and subjective, take place largely inside core and thick national environments and institutions. Among other projects, she was involved with the 2006 Venice Biennale of Architecture, which for the first time in its history focused on cities; she wrote a lead essay for the Catalogue.

Sassen’s research focuses on globalization, immigration, global cities, new technologies, and changes within the liberal state that result from current transnational conditions. In each of the three major projects that comprise her 20 years of research, Sassen starts with a thesis that posits the unexpected and the counterintuitive. Her first multi-year project led to The Mobility of Labor and Capital; foreign investment in less developed countries can actually raise the likelihood of emigration if it goes to labor-intensive sectors and/or devastates the traditional economy. Renowned sociologist Saskia Sassen challenged conventional wisdom about the death of urban centers through her critical observations on the economic degradation of the world’s cities in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sassen’s research has since been translated into over 21 languages, both establishing and advancing a common understanding of new developments in global politics, economics, and immigration. She has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek International, Vanguardia, Clarin, the Financial Times, among others. She serves on several editorial boards and is an advisor to several international bodies. She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Cities. She has received a variety of awards and prizes, most recently, a Doctor honoris causa from Delft University (Netherlands), the first Distinguished Graduate School Alumnus Award of the University of Notre Dame, and was one of the four winners of the first University of Chicago Future Mentor Award covering all doctoral programs. In 2013, she received the Principe de Asturias Prize for Social Sciences. In 2014, she received the honoris causa degree at Universidad de Murcia (Spain) and Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris). Sassen speaks 5 languages and is listed as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy.