Julian Go, editor

Political Power & Social Theory

c/o Julian Go, editor

Department of Sociology

Boston University

96 Cummington Mall

Boston, MA 02215

Global Scholarship in the Age of Trump

With the Trump presidency under way, global scholars face new and different challenges to their research and pedagogy. How will they approach their work in a growing culture of anti-intellectualism, and what role can our disciplines and pedagogies play as society moves forward? To examine how global scholars understand their purpose and presence, we spoke with Rhacel Parreñas, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, Nurhaizatul Jamil, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at College of the Holy Cross, Noora Lori, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University, and Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. They offer the following insights:





1. Are the aims of social scientific research, and global scholarship in particular, different within the context of Trump’s presidency? If so, how?


Rhacel Parreñas (RP): In the current climate, I fear the rise of anti-intellectualism, as well as the ability of individuals to dismiss research findings that disagree with their political views. This is why we need to be ever more vigilant in the design of our methods. I do not think all of our areas of study will be equally affected by the current presidency. The two most divisive issues at the moment are race and the environment, and I think those two areas of study will be the most affected by the current presidency. One should remember, however, that Congress eliminated NSF support for Political Science even before Trump on the basis that our elected officials did not think scholars should be critical of American political practices, arguing that such studies would potentially threaten U.S. national security and economic interests. So the clamping down on particular academic discussions is nothing new, but it perhaps will be aggravated by Trump.


Nurhaizatul Jamil (NJ): Yes and no. I’ve always perceived social scientific research as the use of critical analysis to illuminate the pressing questions that undergird quotidian processes. In this regard, to say that we (social scientists) now have to contend with emergent issues within the context of Trump’s presidency reiterates the fallacy that social life exists as a timeless ethnographic present when we know that history is the unfolding of processes. The reluctance to contend with history is precisely how we got to a Trump presidency in the first place. Additionally, the notion that post-Trump scholarship has to contend with difference also elides the efforts of postcolonial and decolonial scholars and allies, who have been laboriously engaged in querying the global political economy, processes of minoritarian subject-formation, and transnational circulations of various forms of capital in their teaching and research. Before this election, many of us have had to perform the mental and emotional labor of being “killjoys” (Sara Ahmed) because our very existence within the academy has been predicated on various forms of negation and invisibility.

           Having said that, I do think that what has changed is the scale and intensity at which academia as a whole should pursue ethics-oriented teaching and research. We can no longer afford to designate particular weeks on the syllabus to discuss “topics” such as racialized capitalisms, Islamophobia, or the incarceration of indigenous, black, and trans bodies. Instead, I strongly believe that scholars who have not foregrounded intersectionality in their teaching and research should do so immediately by structuring their teaching and research as processes of querying constructions of various savage slots (cf. Trouillot) within diverse public spheres. Part of this process also requires us to historicize the forms of secular liberalism that have enabled the construction of “Whiteness” as a benevolent category. I think that it is even more urgent at this moment to radically de-center hegemonic epistemological frames by exposing ourselves and our students to other forms of canons beyond Euro-centric ones. I also insist that social scientists have to forge more critical interdisciplinary bridges with our colleagues in the sciences because the re-structuring of knowledge industries should not be the sole responsibility of the former. What I hope to co-witness is the prevalence of other scholars, especially those in other fields such as Biology or Chemistry, drawing from social scientific disciplines to make their research and teaching directly relevant to socio-political issues galvanizing everyday lives—for example, the re-formulations of scientific racism and the intensification of environmental racism. Our students shouldn’t only have to contend with these issues in social science classes.


Noora Lori (NL): When I think of what the aim of social scientific research is for me, I am reminded of what Nietzsche says about history in his second Untimely Meditation: “We want to serve history only to the extent that history serves life.” In that sense, when it comes to pursuing this research in the post-Trump era, it is not the aim that has changed but rather the stakes. Research that uses evidence-based inquiry into patterns of human behavior to understand outcomes in the short and long term has become more important than ever. At stake is the impact of our policies and actions on the essentials of life—our rights, safety, health, and climate. But if the social sciences are more important than ever it is not just because of Trump. His presidency may feel exceptional, but it is a manifestation of a much wider global trend toward nationalist retrenchment and the seductive allure of “strong” populist leaders. The strength of social science is that it allows us to move beyond the particularities of one case to address larger patterns over time and space.

             At our current historical juncture, different parts of the globe host democratically-elected nationalist leaders who have used the pretext of terrorism and security to buffer their own power, scapegoat minorities, and eliminate the opposition (including competing parties, a free press, academics, or an independent judiciary). These leaders include Duterte in the Philippines, Erdoğan in Turkey, or el-Sisi in Egypt (to name just a few). The presence of elections does not guarantee that the regime is (or will remain) democratic, which is why political scientists developed the category of ‘electoral authoritarianism’ to explain regimes that are nominally democratic but substantively authoritarian. Europe is also becoming fertile ground for populism, with a recent poll showing that the majority of those surveyed in Spain, France, Italy, and the UK think their countries need a “strong leader” to change their institutions. Moreover, many of the elements present in today’s global political climate were present after the depression of the 1930s marking the rise of fascism, the loss of faith in democratic institutions, heightened xenophobia, a focus on internal enemies, and nationalist protectionism. The social sciences are needed to show a) why President Trump is not exceptional and b) the dangers that unfold when there is a global alignment of nationalist retrenchment and populism. Nationalist jingoism may be enticing and soothing during periods of uncertainty, but only evidence-based inquiry can pave the path to real security.  














Saskia Sassen (SS): Good question! The core of my research and interpretation is not necessarily going to shift. But!—And it is a big “but!”—a certain urgency sets in, especially about the importance of elucidating, clarifying, and hopefully explaining what this shift toward Trump’s politics means and what generated it.

            First, and sadly, the politics of the last 20 years or so contributed to the generation of “Trumpism.” Trump by himself could not have produced the conditions that allowed him to win. Nor could he have produced the conditions that have allowed him to handle or enact the “presidency” the way he has…which is not the norm, and in fact, is quite extreme in its difference from past presidents. Trump the President was produced, made, assembled out of a range of really bad politics across the past 20 years or so.

           Elsewhere I have described our current period as marked by the ascendance of logics of extraction (see Expulsions, Ch. 1; Harvard University Press, 2014).


 2. Particularly in a culture of growing anti-intellectualism, anti-expert, and anti-political establishment sentiment, is it important for scholars to analyze and critique “alternative facts” and right-wing ideologies and policies? Why or why not? If so, how do we accomplish this? Are there other new challenges or opportunities you foresee for social scientists, and how might these be approached?

RP: “Choose your battles” is what I always tell my students as many around us are now beyond reason. For the past decade, I have actually been immersed in a world of anti-intellectualism and “alternative facts” as many human trafficking stakeholders are driven by nothing but ideology. They rely on scant data and dismiss empirically sound findings that disagree with their beliefs. I have coped primarily by designing studies with solid methods and relying on the rigor of my research to speak with authority against those who conflate prostitution and trafficking, inflate figures of trafficking, and defend the value of rescuing “victims” to convert them to Christianity. So my advice is for scholars to do rigorous research and to have faith in the rigor of their work.


NJ: As I mentioned above, critical scholars have been never stopped engaging in the labor of querying subject-formation. Having said that, I do think that it is especially important—within this dystopic moment—for scholars to challenge not only the “alternative facts” espoused by media personalities and political pundits, but to also turn the gaze back to ourselves and dismantle some of the assumptions that pervade the “left.” I think that the latter is more difficult to do because people get defensive when we question good intentions, and thus it is easier to challenge something so obviously erroneous (e.g., “alternative facts”).

             However, if we truly want to use this “rupture” (the elections) as a galvanizing force that transforms social life and sociability in meaningful ways, then we have to query even the “good intentions” that got us here in the first place. For example, in our excitement to demonstrate solidarity with the disenfranchised, how does our protest language reestablish exclusionary effects and discursive violence? I will provide two examples to illustrate this: First, the recent Women’s March on Washington involved many women essentializing biology through public sentiments such as “Pussy grabs back,” thus committing biological essentialism and excluding narratives of Trans subjects. That very march was also heavily criticized for its lack of intersectionality, spurring the proliferation of grassroots marches everywhere. Second, during the “Muslim ban” protests, many waved signs and chanted the following phrase, “We are all immigrants here,” thereby silencing the genocidal history of settler colonialism in the United States toward Native and Indigenous communities, as well as the violent transatlantic slave trade that forcibly transplanted Africans to this space.

        During the protests, we also heard the following slogan repeatedly, “This is not American” —suggesting a deep-seated misinformation on the legacies of discrimination within the United States. In our fervent efforts to criticize Trump, we cannot pretend that his initiatives mark a radical departure from the Obama administration that had a stellar record of deporting the undocumented, and facilitated Islamophobia by sustaining the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. We have to seriously contend with this history even as we criticize Trump’s dystopia. I am also disheartened that, as our “left-oriented” scholars and activists respond to these criticisms, they remind us to not let “identity politics” divide us once again, and to focus on the forms of unity that these protests and public rallies symbolize. However, in so doing, these scholars themselves contribute to the perpetuation of a different type of “Alternative Facts”—one that elides difference and historical dispossession and ultimately ends up furthering neo-Imperialism. I want to us all to challenge ourselves to call out lazy sloganeering, no matter how seductive, as we protest and rally because I am truly optimistic about the transformative shifts embedded within these moments—if we are willing to be critical of ourselves and our movements and dispense and engage in tough love. One of the ways to do this is to become more conscious of how we integrate news sources and think pieces from public and organic intellectuals and activists in our syllabi.






NL: While there certainly is a new growing culture of anti-intellectualism, the use of falsehoods by politicians to justify political projects is much older and part and parcel of modern nationalism. That is why in his classic work, Nations and Nationalism, the historian Hobsbawn explains, “No serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist… Nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently not so. As Renan said: ‘Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation’” (Hobsbawm 1990:12). Simply documenting the truth can become a political act because it challenges the falsehoods that justify and undergird existing power arrangements. Despite the worrisome culture of anti-intellectualism with this election, in the United States academics at least still have the protections of academic freedom. This freedom is, of course, shaped by one’s positionality both in terms of one’s professional position and rank and in terms of one’s citizenship status, but the institutions of higher education and tenure have not (yet) been eradicated. It is thus imperative for scholars to analyze and critique official falsehoods using social scientific methods and evidence, and (as long as freedom of speech continues to be protected) they are well positioned to do so.

             As social scientists, it is our role to not only use evidence to challenge falsehoods, but also to explain how and why they are deployed—for what political purposes and to what end. The very structuring of events into a narrative (like a romantic overcoming or tragedy) dictates the way the public should feel about those events and how to act in response. In terms of aims, it is thus not enough to show why something is factually incorrect; we also have to show what is gained and who is privileged by those fabrications. We also have to point to the silences and gaps in the narratives, and show why the suppression of certain facts changes the retelling of historical events to impart different normative and political imperatives for our actions today. In terms of tactics, we have to use a variety of different platforms to build one intervention on top of another for different audiences. The core has to be the technical work of our own disciplines published in books and peer-reviewed journals; these outlets can have smaller audiences but they allow us to produce our methods and evidence systematically. We can then reference that work when we translate our research to channels with larger audiences, like online journals and magazines, policy reports, televised news programs, documentaries, and social media.


SS: At the deepest level, no! And this is important. As I said above, Trump and his politics are the outcome of twenty years of disastrous politics. Yes, Obama managed to rescue some of the good features of US democracy. But no president could have stopped the vortex of that history that starts in the 1980s (see “A Savage Sorting of Winners and Losers: Contemporary Versions of Primitive Accumulation,” in Globalizations 7(1-2):23-50, 2010).

Obama was a good president. He was too deliberative to get going on eliminating some legislative decisions and on pushing hard to implement new ones. But he and Michelle Obama were extraordinary people, and they brought a measure of seriousness, intelligence, and a strong awareness of injustice, to a political system that is actually rotting—slowly rotting. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Robert Reich, and several other, perhaps less known politicians, are admirable and they can make a big difference. But most of our democratic system has become obsolete. It no longer works, partly because the political and economic “infra-structure” changed so radically after the 1980s move to privatization and deregulation. I develop this rather complex set of trends in my Expulsions book and in an article whose title I think captures one major feature of our current political-economic system (see “Predatory Formations Dressed in Wall Street Suits and Algorithmic Math” in Science, Technology & Society 22(1):6-20, 2017).


 3. Might your research (e.g. methods, topics of investigation, theoretical frameworks) shift as a result of Trump’s election? If so, how? If not, why not?

RP: As I noted, I think particular areas of study will be more adversely affected than others. I study human trafficking, and this is an issue that is of concern to liberal feminists and the religious right, so the validity of my topic will not be under scrutiny to the same extent as others. I might be adversely affected by the threat to reduce funding for education, particularly social science research.  


NJ: My research focuses on young, upwardly mobile women’s participation in Islamic self-help classes in contemporary Singapore that advocate personal transformation in contending with neoliberal precarity. Thus while I am interested in the ways in which Muslim subjects work on themselves to cultivate piety, I also highlight that these practices do not exist external to authoritative discourses. In this regard, I attend to the state’s disciplining of race and religion that compels minoritized Muslim subjects to adopt self-help rhetoric while negating their Malay-ness (ethnic identity) as a form of abjection.

            I think that the recent US presidential election has further impressed upon me the importance of tracing the transnational circulations of knowledge and capital, while focusing on the local discourses of power and authority. For instance, I found it absolutely fascinating that my interlocutors—the young women with whom I attended classes and the self-help teachers—were so reluctant to comment on Singapore’s political sphere and insisted on being apolitical in their everyday engagements, but were very vocal in critiquing Trump. Now I am not saying that similar forms of Trump-ian dystopia exist in Singapore. However, I was intrigued by the ways in which “politics” as an object and subject became less threatening when it was “out there.” Thus I want to interrogate the discursive forms that structure particular ethical sensibilities and desires such that my interlocutors were able to castigate Trump while distancing themselves from issues pertinent to the Singapore landscape, such as rising inequalities, the abuse of foreign workers, and rampant xenophobia toward migrants from the region. For me, there are certain authoritative discourses as work that enable one mode of criticality over another, and they have to be historicized in relation to the Singapore state’s disciplining of politics since 1965.


NL: I do think that we have to adapt our methods in response to shifting political climates and change the way we teach research methods to prepare students for the increased surveillance of and hostility toward academics that is occurring in multiple parts of the world. In my case, however, I faced these questions prior to Trump’s election because I work on the Middle East, and the waves of protests that spread across the region in 2011 (aka the “Arab Spring”) had a chilling effect on my work. I feared putting both my informants and myself at risk and struggled with questions of informed consent having conducted the majority of the initial interviews from 2009-2011 in a political environment that was decidedly less heated.

            Informed consent can only be granted on the basis of a participant having full knowledge of the possible consequences of the research. But the calculation of risks is situational, and the political environment in the United Arab Emirates (where I was based) shifted critically in 2011, changing the potential risks to participants. These considerations shaped my (forthcoming) book’s methodology, which combines ethnographic and archival methods (in English and Arabic) with legal advocacy.

        In response to the changed environment, I scrubbed the manuscript of much of the ethnographic materials from the dissertation (which is embargoed and also used de-gendered and anonymized data) and instead incorporated new archival records. It took an additional two years to collect, read, translate (from Arabic), sort and code close to 2,000 additional documents to develop the manuscript. I then worked with one of my informants and a former student (Yoana Kuzmova MA/JD) to create a legal clinic on one population interviewed for the book. We partnered with Professor Susan Akram’s International Human Rights Clinic at Boston University and created a legal team focused on the UAE as the first documented case of a government outsourcing statelessness to another country—the Union of Comoros—creating what I call “offshore citizens.”

            If ethical research calls for the minimization of risks and maximization of benefits to research participants, then for me this means taking into consideration changing dynamics and calculating risks even after the interviews are completed. It means not ending the research relationship as soon as we as researchers get what we need, but using all of the resources at our disposal to help shield our informants and get them what they need, as well.


SS: I want to put something on the table here that may be a bit shocking to many liberals. The rise of a politics based on willful ignorance and extreme positions happened long before Trump (and yes, Obama was an exception to this trend, but not Clinton). Trump is the culmination, and I get really angry when I hear self-satisfied “democrats” say that Trump is the ruin of politics. The Democratic party also was a factor in the many disastrous political and legislative decisions, or, perhaps more precisely, the absence of daring constructive legislative decisions—decisions that addressed the escalating crises in so many domains that our country is confronting. Trump is just the most brutal and ignorant of presidents.

 4. How do you think Trump’s presidency will affect the way you teach and the situations you might encounter in the classroom? This might include broader issues, such as responding to fake news, or institutional issues like sanctuary campuses, but also more micro-level strategies or approaches with respect to interacting with students (e.g., minority students that might feel or experience some level of fear or discrimination, in addition to those students that support Trump).


RP: I have unfortunately been swimming, often times with frustration, in an abysmal pool of “alternative facts.” Many of our most basic knowledges of human trafficking are actually “alternative facts.” So having to engage individuals—that is, students—who come into my class with “alternative facts” is something I have been doing for quite some time. I have negotiated this reality by having them think about the data they utilize and the methods used to generate the data. I also spend a great deal of time deconstructing the ideological premise of the beliefs of various stakeholders. Because addressing human trafficking is emotionally contentious, I have always been clear about the classroom as a “safe space” and without question have been forced to be vigilant in calling out acts of micro-aggressions.


NJ: As a woman of color in academia, the idea of being subject to micro-aggressions and having your authority questioned is not novel. When I stand in front of a classroom and critique white supremacy as a system, for example, my body immediately indexes my minoritized identity, and so students might read my critique differently than they would a white cis-hetero male professor’s.  I find that I have had to be extra careful in my verbal articulations so as to not turn away those who need to hear the critiques most, while continuing to preach to the choir. I do think that scholars of color are often times expected to perform the exhausting emotional labor of educating others. At the same time, I truly believe in the possibilities of radical ally-ship that is mutually respectful and cognizant of histories of dispossession. I think that we need other scholars—especially those who don’t necessarily embody precarity—to step up more and address pressing issues in their classrooms and to organize teach-ins and other learning events, and I am heartened that the election has galvanized many into action.

            While I am humbled by some of my students’ ability to find comfort in my pedagogical approaches, I also constantly worry about them. I have encountered numerous situations over the past few months where I have had to console minoritized students deeply distraught about the incarceration of black lives and the symbolic racism and bigotry that underpinned the presidential elections. I worry about the alienation these students feel and their mental health as they navigate academics and everyday life. I think that as educators, we need to hold and co-construct healing spaces with our students as we heal ourselves.

In terms of teaching pro-Trump students, my experience thus far has been that bridging the distance between perception and reality is a critical way of challenging misinformation. I always remind students that this critique is not really about them as individuals, but about the systems of inequity and dispossession that we knowingly and/or unwittingly perpetuate through our actions. Thus I make sure that my lessons specifically address the implications of immigration bans and other bigoted discourses through the use of visual aids and learning activities, such as debates. I am conscious that research has demonstrated that faculty of color like myself bear the brunt of students’ evaluation bias as we engage in these pedagogical incentives. Thus I am thankful to have a department chair cognizant of this bias. My students also write weekly response papers narrating their understanding of texts and linking it to socio-political shifts in various public spheres. I have also found that having one-on-one sessions with my students—where I push them to be more critical in the questions and methods they pose as they work on their essays and projects—is extremely useful. But ultimately, you can try your best but you cannot alter minds that are completely resistant. For that, I rely on a lot of prayer, my support system, and Solange.






NL: I think our students—both those who opposed Trump and those who supported him—are yearning to do something, to feel like they can “fix things,” to take action. I share that urge with them, as I felt especially impotent as this election was unfolding; beyond the fact that I was not eligible to vote in it, I was tired of feeling like the only option was for the rest of us to sit, and watch, and wait, while two people vied for the most powerful position on the globe. In my experience, when you give students a way of siphoning their energy toward a project that is active and impactful, they work together instead of fighting over the political fault-lines that divide them (whether that fault line is this election or other divisions that preceded it, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict).

As teachers, I think we can do a great amount to harness student energy inside the classroom, instead of simply reacting to what happens outside it. I experimented with this idea last spring and engaged my students (and myself) in a more proactive way by piloting a policy class that was designed as a “virtual policy incubator.” We focused on the issues of forced migration and human trafficking. Instead of written recommendations targeted at policy-makers (who don’t read them), I challenged students to create a blueprint for a digital product (like a database or app) that would be designed for NGOs, local municipalities, and refugees themselves. The outcome was an entirely student-driven initiative that exceeded my wildest expectations.

            The students honed in on the problem of access to aid in urban areas, noting a distinct drop in access from camp settings. Their “solution” was to build a tool that could be in any city but was explicitly designed for Amman, Jordan. They designed a simple aid locator, with the mission of ‘putting aid on the map.’ The students named their project Urban Refuge. After the idea for a digital solution took shape, the class divided into teams, with each tackling a different aspect of app development. The semester ended with a website, an app blueprint that had a pitch deck to show to funders, screenshots of what the app would look like, the basic coding, and a database with organizations, schools, and clinics geocoded by latitude and longitude.

             The project was an interdisciplinary endeavor that pushed the students to capitalize on resources across the university and city of Boston. Initially, students from the BU Global App Initiative, a group of mostly computer science students, taught my students the basics of coding and app development. Students from the BU Venture Accelerator consulted on the project’s potential to become a start-up and advised the class how to best articulate their vision to potential funders. After the semester ended, we worked with Microsoft Northeast to build the app, and have since been working with the Hariri Institute for Computing and Computer Engineering to launch and maintain the project.

            I think that this class model managed to capture the kind of energy students bring to student government and Model UN, but in response to real-world problems. A year after the class ended, the students (who are incidentally all female) have continued to work hard, successfully completing a crowd-funding campaign to launch their project and regularly publishing op-eds and blog posts and giving lectures to translate their work to an audience of their peers. The experiment proved to be engaging for them, but also for me; it is a cathartic and empowering way of responding to a political climate that is increasingly hostile to the protection of refugees. I have continued to work with the same students on this project long after my formal work obligations have ceased. This may not be rational in the ‘publish or perish’ reward framework of the tenure-track system, but for me the stakes are higher; it is critical that we use university resources to respond to real-world problems. Our universities are natural incubators, we have the concentration of global brainpower in cities like Boston that can either be leveraged and deployed, or lost to the erection of borders, visa controls, and the drainage of scientific funding.


SS: Well I am rather clear on how I teach. I happen to teach an undergraduate class that, in each of the past few years, winds up being the biggest class on campus (400 students and 200 on the waiting list already now in March—it does not start until September. Let’s remember that Columbia University (CU), in the Arts and Sciences, has mostly small classes—which is great for the students. And my graduate seminar is always far too big. I stop enrollment once I reach 30…not great for the students for whom 20 would be the ideal size…There was an article published in the student newspaper Columbia Daily Spectator that described this fact that 700 students had registered in early registration (February, and a class starts in September), and the computer of CU did not register that there is no classroom that can hold 700 students. In other words, the assumption at the University was that you never get a class like that…pretty amazing how they could not set a limit in the computer system given that 400 is the largest classroom.

          All of this means that a) teaching can engage the current politics, but b) teaching gets at deeper issues than the current moment—which, for me, means that we have been moving towards this disastrous political mode for quite a while (since the 1980s, with Obama a major exception regarding certain aspects, including health care, freeing up prisoners unjustly condemned to very long terms, enabling a vast array of minoritized people from blacks to gays). 

            In my book Expulsions, I argue that the privatization and deregulation policies of the 1980s that moved us into the current epoch enabled the ascendance of extractive logics. These extractive logics do not affect all components of our economy and society. But they affect enough vectors in our complex systems to make a big difference. Let me give you an example of the switch. The mass consumption culture and economy that dominated the decades up to the 1970s or 1980s entailed a sort of ironic turn: even the nastiest mass consumption corporation wanted the middle classes and the working classes to do better and better, and the sons and daughters to do better than their parents…not because they were after social justice, but because that meant maximizing consumption. 

         When we did the big move to “globalization” it was on very specific terms: terms that advanced the interests of big corporations and the financial system. Mass consumption is still with us, but it was not what drove the new major actors of our economy. What I want to emphasize is that this switch away from an economy where the dominant logic is mass consumption to one where extractive logics dominate did not fall from the sky. It was made—with laws, with political arguments, with a range of financial innovations.

          What I find terribly sad and alarming is the ease with which this new narrative about what is good for our societies and economies has become dominant—it rules the analyses and interpretations of the average person, of the political classes, of the news media… We are a bit at a loss as to how to reorganize our economies, polities, societies. I make some proposals in several articles, such as this one. How is it possible that all the smart analyses of the current moment are winding up with laments rather than analyses and proposals?


For additional resources, Professor Sassen provides the following links and articles:

Rhacel Parreñas

Saskia Sassen

Noora Lori

"I’ve always perceived social scientific research as the use of critical analysis to illuminate the pressing questions that undergird quotidian processes. In this regard, to say that we (social scientists) now have to contend with emergent issues within the context of Trump’s presidency reiterates the fallacy that social life exists as a timeless ethnographic present when we know that history is the unfolding of processes."
Nurhaizatul Jamil 
"All of this means that a) teaching can engage the current politics, but b) teaching gets at deeper issues than the current moment—which, for me, means that we have been moving towards this disastrous political mode for quite a while (since the 1980s, with Obama a major exception regarding certain aspects, including health care, freeing up prisoners unjustly condemned to very long terms, enabling a vast array of minoritized people from blacks to gays)."
Saskia Sassen 
"When I think of what the aim of social scientific research is for me, I am reminded of what Nietzsche says about history in his second Untimely Meditation: 'We want to serve history only to the extent that history serves life.' In that sense, when it comes to pursuing this research in the post-Trump era, it is not the aim that has changed but rather the stakes. "
Noora Lori 
"I have unfortunately been swimming, often times with frustration, in an abysmal pool of 'alternative facts.' Many of our most basic knowledges of human trafficking are actually 'alternative facts.' So having to engage individuals—that is, students—who come into my class with “alternative facts” is something I have been doing for quite some time. I have negotiated this reality by having them think about the data they utilize and the methods used to generate the data." 
Rhacel Parreñas