Curatorial Initiatives
Kant's Essay

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In Conversation with Saskia Sassen

In April 2010, the Perpetual Peace Project invited Saskia Sassen to speak about the topic from inside the lobby of the New Museum on the Bowery in New York City. The filmmakers invited her to speak against constantly changing reflections of the street, insofar as the street symbolizes the informal networks of global communication and exchange that her work directly engages.

In her remarks, Sassen sought to move beyond popular terms such as hospitality and gloabalization, whose ubiquity, she argued, inhibits clarity of thought. She explained how profound changes are taking place today with regard to national identity, territory, and security, and communicated her belief in complex political architectures that go beyond Kant's conception of the nation-state, providing spaces both for the institutionalization of different rights and obligations and for alternative frameworks of organization. Sassen noted that the concept of the cosmopolitan citizen comes directly from Kant's writings on Perpetual Peace and his longing for a universal citizen and culture that might transcend circumscribed and specific issues. Sassen cautioned, however, that individuals are often caught up today in local differences, divisions, and fights, and that these informal networks of individuals constitute in their own way a conscience, a political commitment, and a global social movement. Sassen further cautioned that in contemporary diplomacy one cannot simply capture or speak on behalf of the global. One must take into account not just what is happening globally or between nation-states, but what is happening inside the national itself.

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