Tuesday, October 18, 2011

transaction, neo-classical, symbolic

The building most frequently associated with the phrase "Wall Street" is the New York Stock Exchange, shown here. The building operates at numerous levels: as a souvenir/memory in photographs and video, as a workplace, as a symbol.

If we accept that the global economy demands and dictates diplomatic relationships as nation-states do (or once did?) then the NYSE might be an epicenter of global diplomacy. As Saskia Sassen proposes in her book "Losing Control," the more important the global activity the more likely that activity will take place in an important, if not symbolic "global city" like New York. Not only are transactions handled at the instantaneous, break-neck speed allowed by digital technologies, but the people behind those transactions are collected into a single, negotiated space.

As a side note: Wall Street, itself, is now a pedestrian street, free of cars. The current physical manifestation of Wall Street could be called a diplomatic act - an offering of public space, displacing the private vehicle in favor of a shared amenity. The reality of the pedestrian street likely lies more in the desire for tightly controlled security, following September 11, but it is worth noting that by closing down the street to vehicles the overwhelming congestion of tourists and rush-hour people-traffic might be ever-so-slightly less overwhelming.

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