Global Street and Comparative Urbanism and the Politics of Form


With Saskia Sassen, Arjun Appadurai and Anupama Rao

This talk will explore how public space can offer rhetorical and operational openings for the powerless. Using the concept of the gobal street, as distinguished from the European tradition’s concept of public space, this discussion will open up a larger conceptual field to understand the complex interactions between power and powerlessness as they get shaped in urban space. Sassen will 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.

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of the Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. Her recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages, A Sociology of Globalization and the fourth fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy. Sassen’s The Global City came out in a new fully updated edition in 2001. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Sassen is currently working on When Territory Exits Existing Frameworks with Harvard University Press. She contributes regularly to and

Arjun Appardurai is a Goddard Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He was born and educated in Mumbai, where he studied at St. Xavier's High School and Elphinstone College. He is President of the Board of Trustees of PUKAR and holds the Tata Chair Professor at The Tata Institute for the Social Sciences in Mumbai. He is the author of numerous books and articles on globalization, urbanisation and media. His latest book is The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition.

Anupama Rao is a historical anthropologist of South Asia who joined Barnard College at Columbia University in 2001. She is the author of The Caste QuestionDiscipline and the Other Body; Death of a Kotwal: Injury and the Politics of RecognitionSubaltern Studies XII; Violence, Vulnerability and Embodiment (co-editor, Gender and History special issue, 2004), and Gender and Caste: Issues in Indian Feminism. She is currently working on a book titled Dalit Bombay, on the relationship between caste, political culture, and everyday life in colonial and postcolonial Bombay. 

To submit your questions in advance for the panel, please email

The UrbanAsia Series brings together experts from various fields to incite dialogue on the challenges and benefits of urbanisation in a multi-disciplinary manner. The series catalyses action towards the sustainable growth of Asia’s cities. Our past programmes include a discussion with Rahul Mehrotra on how Indian architecture represents a landscape of pluralism and a presentation by Peter van der Veer on comparative urbanisation between Mumbai and Shanghai.

In partnership with

Event Details

Mon 07 Jan 2013
6 - 8 p.m.
4th Floor, Kitab Mahal 192, Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Fort, Mumbai
Add to Calendar 20130107T123000 20130107T143000 UTC Asia Society: Global Street and Comparative Urbanism and the Politics of Form 4th Floor, Kitab Mahal 192, Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Fort, Mumbai