David A. Westbrook

Louis A. Del Cotto Professor; Director for Global Strategic Initiatives

Research Focus: Corporations and Finance, International Law and Globalization, Political Economy and Social Theory

Links: Curriculum Vitae (PDF), SSRN, Personal Website

Contact Information

521 O'Brian Hall, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
Phone: 716-645-2073

Faculty Assistant: Reigelman, Jessica

City of Gold: An Apology for Globalization in a Time of Discontent

David A. Westbrook argues argues that economic globalization has produced a "City of Gold": a global, cosmopolitan polity constituted by markets, and where capital markets –not states– have become the dominant mode of governance. But there are troubling consequences from using markets as the primary political mechanism.

Traditional politics have been undermined and an inadequate economic logic rules. Despite the problems inherent in this new political economy, however, Westbrook sees the City as an acceptable response to the crisis of the nation state, and moreover, as a way of life with its own rewards and possibilities.

From this basis, Westbrook advocates a political imagination that moves beyond the logic of capitalism yet which acknowledges the continuing centrality of markets –with all of their profound limitations– to our lives.

City of Gold is an extraordinarily bold effort to understand the economic, cultural, and political implications of globalization. Westbrook draws on his deep understanding of economics, critical theory, and the world of high finance to move beyond traditional academic boundaries and thereby rethink the rise of supranational capitalism. At the same time, he moves easily and gracefully through the realms of history, classical philosophy, psychology, and art criticism. This book will entrance its readers, not just for the sweep of its argument, or the eclectic nature of its insights, but for its sheer intellectual daring and brilliance.
Pierre Schlag, University of Colorado (Law)

Among the several current ambitious efforts to come to terms with the changing nature of capitalism as a form of life – economic, cultural, and especially, as a system of politics and values – in the present "great transformation in which we are all immersed, Westbrook's is the best that I know, for its passion, its readability, and the unique ways in which it is informed.
George Marcus, Rice University (Anthropology)

David Westbrook brings imagination, realism, and moral seriousness to a set of problems that for better or worse are transforming the way human beings live in every corner of the world.
Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University (Law)

In this light, City of Gold should be seen not merely as another entrant into a highly inflated academic market, awaiting its turn to be noticed and purchased. On the contrary, City of Gold deserves to be taken seriously, read widely, and debated critically. Westbrook successfully bridges the fields of economics, international law, critical theory, and social change. He demonstrates an ability to combine critical reasoning with a concern about actual policy. In the process, he provides us with important insights about global capitalism. City of Gold should be read and debated by scholars, students, policymakers, and anyone else who is interested in transforming contemporary globalization into a force capable of promoting a democratic and just world governance.
Fuat Keyman, Koc University, Turkey (International Relations)

See also:

Brian Holmes, "The Interscale: Art After Neoliberalism," Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte, Cahier on Art and the Public Domain (2009).

E. Fuat Keyman, Apology Accepted: A Possibility of Global Governance (PDF) lnternational Studies Review (2006)

Jean-Marc Gollier, Book Review (PDF), Journal of World Trade (2005)

David A. Westbrook, City of Gold: An Apology For Capitalism in a Time of Discontent (PDF), Droit et Regulation (2005)

Jean-Marc Gollier, Waiting for a Savior of the Markets (PDF), Buffalo Law Review (2004)

Miguel González Marcos, Westbrook's City of Gold: Between the City of Pigs and the City of God, Globalization (2004)

Douglas Holmes, George Marcus and David Westbrook, Intellectual Vocations in the City of Gold (PDF), Political and Legal Anthropology Review, vol. 29, no.1 (2006)

Douglas Holmes and George Marcus, Fast Capitalism: Para-Ethnography and the Rise of the Symbolic Analyst (PDF), Chapter in Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy, Melissa Fischer and Greg Downey, editors (2005)

Melissa Fisher and Greg Downey, editors, Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy (PDF)