The exclusion of significant parts of the world population from active life is a sad reality today and will be for years to come. That’s the thesis that Saskia Sassen, a sociologist focused on globalization and global cities, describes in her last two books, Territory, Authority, Rights and Expulsions. If the first is a reflection on the dynamic relationship between global and local realities, the second analyzes the nature of extractive capitalism, one of the emerging trends in the world economy, where the expulsion of people from the places where they lived and land-grabbing are elements of a widespread practice of the private appropriation of natural wealth and knowledge.
The expropriation of African, Asian and even European regions to be put in the hands of agro-industrial multinational companies and the plundering of natural resources are recurring elements in the extractive capitalism chronicles. Here, finance is the protagonist of a wealth expropriation never before seen in history. Sassen’s analysis outlines a future in which the trend of population banishment has the features of a social apocalypse.
From her most recent essays, it’s clear that Sassen is engaged in countering a reductionist reading of globalization — a parenthesis about to be closed — to sharpen criticism on the extractive capitalism that opposes isolationism and economic nationalism. This interview is compiled from a conversation during her visit to Rome and numerous email exchanges.