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Corporate SovereigntyLaw and Government under Capitalism$
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Joshua Barkan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816674268

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816674268.001.0001

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(p.65) Chapter Three Personhood
Corporate Sovereignty

Joshua Barkan

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explains the reworking of corporate sovereignty in the context of modern U.S. corporate law by describing corporate personhood and analyzing 19th- and early-20th-century literature of lawyers, political economists, and public figures to understand how corporations changed from fundamental institutions of government into private, capitalist firms. It discusses corporate personhood as a retroactive attempt to rationalize an institution connected with early modern models of sovereignty and police within the juridical framework of a liberal capitalist political economy that centers on concepts of personhood, rights, and citizenship. The chapter also reviews Matt Wuerker’s drawing “Corpenstein”, which echo earlier presentations of corporations as monsters.

Keywords:   corporate sovereignty, U.S. corporate law, capitalist firms, corporate personhood, capitalist political economy, rights, citizenship, Matt Wuerker, Corpenstein

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