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Utopia vs. the City Keynote: Saskia Sassen, "Predatory Formations Dressed in Wall Street Suits and Algorithmic Math"

January 31, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Utopia vs. the City Keynote: Saskia Sassen, “Predatory Formations Dressed in Wall Street Suits and Algorithmic Math”

Assemblages of complex types of knowledge and technologies—including algorithmic mathematics, law and accounting, and high-level logistics—have generated complex predatory formations. The complexity of these formations tends to camouflage their predatory character. Further, such formations are systemic in nature. They are not produced by an elementary seizure of power. Predatory formations are often beyond the reach of ordinary policy responses, in good part because they tend to assemble elements of separate domains into novel configurations. In fact we need new law that can encompass these formations. The focus here is on one of the more powerful and complex predatory formations, (high) finance. And the effort is to explain how even the most sophisticated financial instruments require certain elementary and brutal steps, resulting in highly degraded socio-economic outcomes.

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Member, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University (www.saskiasassen.com). Her new book is Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Harvard University Press 2014) now out in 15 languages. Recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages ( Princeton University Press 2008), A Sociology of Globalization (W.W.Norton 2007), and the 5th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2018). Among older books are The Global City (Princeton University Press 1991/2001), and Guests and Aliens (New Press 1999). Her books are translated into over 20 languages. She is the recipient of diverse awards and mentions, including multiple doctor honoris causa, named lectures, and being selected as one of the top global thinkers on diverse lists. Most recently she was awarded the Principe de Asturias 2013 Prize in the Social Sciences and made a member of the Royal Academy of the Sciences of Netherland.


The 2020 P+ARG Conference, Utopia vs. the City, will take place Friday, January 31 through Saturday, February 1. Click here for more information on this biennial conference.


January 31, 2020
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
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