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Published by Neeraj Mishra

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Published by: Neeraj Mishra on Jul 06, 2010
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Spatialities and Temporalities of the Global: Elements for a Theorization
Sassen, Saskia.
Public Culture, Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2000, pp. 215-232 (Article)
Published by Duke University Press
For additional information about this article
Access Provided by Universiteit van Amsterdam at 06/18/10 8:37AM GMT
Spatialities and Temporalitiesof the Global:Elements for aTheorization
Saskia Sassen
he multiple processes that constitute economic globalization inhabit andshape specific structurations of the economic, the political, the cultural, andthe subjective. Among the most vital of their effects is the production of new spa-tialities and temporalities. These belong to both the global and the national, if only to each in part. This “in part” is an especially important qualification, as inmy reading the global is itself partial, albeit strategic. The global does not (yet)fully encompass the lived experience of actors or the domain of institutional ordersand cultural formations; it persists as a partial condition. This, however, shouldnot suggest that the global and the national are discrete conditions that mutuallyexclude each other. To the contrary, they significantly overlap and interact in waysthat distinguish our contemporary moment.These overlaps and interactions have consequences for the work of theoriza-tion and research. Much of social science has operated with the assumption of the nation-state as a container, representing a unified spatiotemporality. Muchof history, however, has failed to confirm this assumption. Modern nation-states themselves never achieved spatiotemporal unity, and the global restruc-turings of today threaten to erode the usefulness of this proposition for whatis an expanding arena of sociological reality. The spatiotemporality of thenational, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be composed of multiple spa-
Public Culture
12(1): 215–232Copyright ©2000 by Duke University Press
This essay is a revised version of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology’s Distin-guished Lecture, “The State and the New Geography of Power,” delivered at the American Anthro-pological Association meetings, Philadelphia, 5 November 1998.
tialities and temporalities that are at best organizable into something approxi-mating a spatiotemporal order—one, for instance, that can now be distin-guished from the global.Crucial to the project of this essay will be its conception of the dynamics of interaction and overlap that operate both within the global and the national andbetween them. Each sphere, global and national, describes a spatiotemporal orderwith considerable internal differentiation and growing mutual imbrication with theother. Their internal differences interpenetrate in ways that are variously con-flictive, disjunctive, and neutralizing. The theoretical and methodological task of this essay will be one of detecting/constructing the social thickness and specificityof these dimensions with the aim of developing a suitably textured understandingof dynamic spaces of overlap and interaction. Given the complexity and specificityof both the global and the national, their interlacing suggests the existence of fron-tier zones—from the perspective of research and theorization, these analytic bor-derlands are sure to require independent theoretical and methodological specificity.Given the historically constructed meaning of the national as a dominant condi-tion that mutually excludes both other nationals and the nonnational, these fron-tier zones are likely to be marked by operations of power and domination. A pos-sible outcome of these dynamics of interaction between the global and thenational, I suggest, is an incipient and partial denationalization of domains onceunderstood and/or constructed as national.Theoretically and operationally, these processes seem thus far to have favoredcertain kinds of subjects and topics as strategic and capable of illuminating theissues at hand. In the domain of the global economic, transnational corporations,financial markets, and (in my analysis at least [Sassen 1998, chap. 4]) immigrantworkers are emblematic subjects. At a greater level of complexity, so are thequestion of sovereignty in the context of globalization and the formation of border-crossing networks of global cities.
These are the elements I begin to explore in this essay. I will focus especiallyon analytic operations that I have found to be helpful, if not necessary, to explain-ing the dynamics of national-global overlap and interaction. As my past researchhas made me more familiar with the global than the national, the global will pro-vide my angle of entry into these issues.
Public Culture216
1. Many more such subjects and topics have already been identified and conceptualized in otherdomains. See, for example, Appadurai 1996 and Palumbo-Liu 1999.

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