Gauging the Shifting Global Environment

Event: This Will Kill That? presents Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblage
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.23.07
Speakers: Saskia Sassen — Sociology Professor, Columbia University
Organizers: AIANY Emerging NY Architects (ENYA) This Will Kill That? Committee
Sponsors: SoHo Reprographics

Saskia Sassen

Saskia Sassen holding her book, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblage at the Center for Architecture.

Katerina Kampiti

Nation-states often sacrifice their national identities for globalization. But don’t ignore national identities, including their economic histories, if you want to comprehend the global environment. This is the argument made by Saskia Sassen in her latest book, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblage (Princeton University Press, 2006).

Sassen explains globalization by using analogies, tracing their progress through history. One example is the corporate environment. In the past, companies were small entities. They were housed in one building, and the firm’s identity was apparent in the architecture, the advertising, the owners themselves, and the location of the business. This was long ago. After years of technological advancement and evolving infrastructure, businesses have become more global and less identifiable. Satellite offices and the Internet allow for multi-national establishments, creating what Sassen terms “specialized assemblages.”

In a way, corporations parallel larger global trends. Whereas countries used to be entities within themselves, now boundaries are blurred. Countries will thrive if they can successfully make this transition.