chapter  16
11 Pages

Buying pieces of cities?

BySaskia Sassen

This chapter focuses on a particular trend that has emerged with great force and a capacity to privatize cities and displace large numbers of workers and enterprises that may long have lived and operated in these cities. The current scale of acquisitions points to a systematic transformation in the pattern of ownership in cities. And this has deep and significant implications on equity, democracy, and rights. The large acquisitions of urban land – whether by foreigners or locals – bring urgency to the work of actively making the public and the political in urban space. An examination of the current trends shows some significant differences and points to a whole new phase in the character and logics of foreign and national corporate acquisitions. Much of the work of forcing deregulation, privatization, and new fiscal and monetary policies on the host governments had to do with creating the formal instruments to construct their equivalent of the old military "fort" of historic frontier.