Border Shopping

American Studies and the Anti-Nation
  • Bryce Traister


I began writing this essay one day after Seattle riot police “managed” the crowds protesting the opening of the 2000 World Trade Organization (WTO) Millennium talks. The WTO convened these talks ostensibly to review and renew the series of multilateral trade agreements that the WTO oversees, if not to simulate a liberal democratic public dialogue within the context of late capitalism. By the late fall of 1999, the WTO had, for many, come to symbolize globalization in its purest and most threatening form. It is a non-governmental organization (NGO) operating beyond the control of the nation-states (and their citizens) who are its signatories. Yet at the same time it retains control over and exerts control within those nation-states, and not just in the increasingly diverse realm of “trade,” as the zealous police response to the conference disruption made alarmingly clear. While the WTO and many government officials insist that the organization, and globalization more generally, benefit the economic interests even of latte-sipping protesters (and seem to approve the use of teargas and pepper-spray in order to get that message across), the recent history of the WTO suggests that some of these fears are well founded.


World Trade Organization National Identity American Study North American Free Trade Agreement Canadian Government 
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Copyright information

© Claudia Sadowski-Smith 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryce Traister

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