In her most recent book, Expulsions—Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy, Saskia Sassen examines soaring income inequality and unemployment, expanding populations of the displaced and imprisoned, along with the accelerating destruction of land and water. For Sassen, these phenomena are best understood as expulsions from livelihoods, from living space, even from the very biosphere that makes life possible. From finance to mining, the complex types of knowledge and technology we have come to admire are used too often in ways that produce elementary brutalities. Sassen’s work lays bare the extent to which the sheer complexity of the global economy makes it hard to trace lines of responsibility for the displacements, evictions, and eradications it produces—and equally hard for those who benefit from the system to feel responsible for its depredations.
SASKIA SASSEN is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Her research and writing focuses on the social, economic and political dimensions of globalization, immigration, global cities, and changes within the liberal state during the current phase of transnational capitalism. In her research she has focused on the unexpected and the counterintuitive as a way to cut through established “truths.”