Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Co-Chair Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University

Photo: Asiya Khaki 2008

Saskia Sassen's research and writing focuses on globalization (including social, economic and political dimensions), immigration, global cities (including cities and terrorism), the 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 in order to cut through established "truths".

Her first multi-year project led to The Mobility of Labor and Capital (Cambridge University Press 1988). Her thesis is that 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; this went against established notions that such investment would retain potential emigrants.

Her second multi-year project led, among other publications, to The Global City (Princeton University Press 1991; 2nd ed 2001). Her thesis is that 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; this went against established notions at the time that the global economy transcended territory and its associated regulatory umbrellas.

Her third multi-year project led to the award-winning Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press 2006). Her thesis is that today's partial but foundational globalizations, from economic to cultural and subjective, take place largely inside core and thick national environments and institutions. This makes globalization partly invisible because it is dressed in the clothes of the national even as it denationalizes what was historically constructed as national.

Her current project, When Territory Eits Existing Framings, is under contract with Harvard University Press.

In addition to her appointments at Columbia University, Saskia Sassen 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 European Institute of Florence, Universidad de Murcia, Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris), Universidad de Murcia (Spain), Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris), DePaul University (USA), University of Poitiers (France), Royal Stockholm Institute of Technology, Ghent University (Belgium), Warwick University (UK), 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. She has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek International,Vanguardia, Clarin, and the Financial Times, among others.

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