Editors’ Introduction by John Conley and Justin Richland
Before turning to the content of this issue, we want to alert readers that we are publishing an online Book Review Supplement, something that our predecessor Beth Mertz did in 2011. We and our Book Review Editor, Ilana Gershon, hit upon this as a solution to a “problem” that is really an embarrassment of riches. Despite unending hand-wringing over the crisis in academic publishing, more and more significant political and legal anthropology books are being published, and the peerless Ilana keeps persuading many of you to write thoughtful reviews. A significant backlog has developed. This special online Supplement will help get us caught up and ensure that our reviews are timely. We thank our reviewers for agreeing to this change, Ilana for getting it done, our Online Editor Kate Henne for handling the online logistics, and our Managing Editor April Faith-Slaker for taking on the extra copy-editing burden for the Supplement. (And it’s always nice to have an opportunity to say a public thank you to Ilana, Kate, and April, who are all indispensable and under-thanked.) We are also exploring online book review publication as a regular feature.
This issue features a Symposium on “Imagining Corporate Personhood,” organized and guest-edited by Peter Benson and Stuart Kirsch. The Symposium arose from a panel on the same topic at the 2012 American Anthropological Association Annual meeting. As Kirsch reminds us in his introduction, the law has long held that a corporation is a fictive legal person, but defining the scope of that personhood has taken on a new urgency in the wake of several controversial court cases. The Supreme Court has held that corporations have a free speech right that includes a right to make political contributions, as well as some measure of religious freedom whose precise dimensions remain to be determined. But even as it has expanded the rights of the corporate person, the Supreme Court has limited its responsibilities, at least with respect to international human rights violations. This Symposium explores these issues through an anthropological lens, in papers by Benson, Kedron Thomas, Robert Foster, Dinah Rajak, and Ilana Gershon, with a concluding commentary by Ira Bashkow. We are grateful to Pete and Stuart for their imagination, insight, and diligence in conceiving this Symposium and bringing it to fruition.
The Symposium is followed by three provocative general articles. [Read more]