Saskia Sassen’s “The World’s Third Spaces” discusses the effects of new geographical networks, composed of emerging subnational and transnational actors, on the global scene.

These emergent assemblages inhabit both national and global institutional and territorial settings. They span the globe in the form of trans-local geographies connecting multiple, often thick, sub-national spaces – institutional, territorial, subjective. One aspect that matters here is that these often thick, sub-national settings are building-blocks for new global geographies. They do not run through supranational institutions that take out that thickness and generalise across differences. …

Beyond the fact of the diversity of these assemblages, there is the increasingly weighty fact of their numbers – over 125 according to the best recent count. The proliferation of these systems does not represent the end of national states, but it does begin to disassemble bits and pieces of the national. Nor does it represent simply the expansion of the global. It produces a kind of “third space” for a growing range of operations, from economic to cultural to political. …

This proliferation of partial assemblages disaggregates constitutive rules once solidly lodged in the nation-state project with its strong unitary tendencies. Since these novel assemblages are partial and often highly specialised, they tend to be centred in particular utilities and purposes. The normative character of this landscape is multivalent – it ranges from some very good utilities and purposes to some very bad ones, depending on the normative stance adopted. …

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