The aim is to open up a larger conceptual field to understand the complex interactions between power and powerlessness as they get shaped in urban space. I argue that the city makes visible the limits of superior military power and, most importantly, that cities enable powerlessness to become complex, not simply elementary. In this complexity lies the possibility of making history and remaking the political. The question of public space is central to giving the powerless rhetorical and operational openings. But that public space needs to be distinguished from the concept of public space in the European tradition, a space for ritualized practices and embedded codes. This leads me to the concept of The Global Street, a space for making rather than rituals — where those without access to the formal instruments of power can make space, notably political space.


Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University ( 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 4th fully updated edition of “Cities in a World” Economy (Sage 2011). “The Global City” came out in a new fully updated edition in 2001. Her books are translated into over twenty languages. She is currently working on “When Territory Exits Existing Frameworks” (Under contract with Harvard University Press). She contributes regularly to and