Prof. Leo Coleman publishes in the Political and Legal Anthropology Review

October 31, 2014
Leo Coleman

Professor Leo Coleman's essay "Corporate Identity in Citizens United: Legal Fictions and Anthropological Theory" was recently published in the Political and Legal Anthropology Review. He also has written a web-based supplement to his article on the PoLAR Website which is featured on the website's front page. Congratulations Dr. Coleman!

The United States Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [2010] from the outset has been a contested, highly politicized case, where judicial interpretation affected more than just election finance law; the majority's opinion explicitly intervened in a wider political struggle over personhood and the boundaries of citizenship. This article moves beyond questions of legal doctrine to highlight the social–theoretical–political contexts of the decision and its consequences for anthropological understanding of American citizenship. I trace how the majority decision appropriated and reshaped a discourse of identity. In its first formulation in social movements, “identity” was offered as a positive basis for rights and inclusion; however, the Court's appropriation reformulated identity on a negative basis, barring both regulation and recognition of identity-based claims by the State. It also went further than a traditional liberal demarcation of rights by specifically attributing agency and authoritative representation to corporate speech. Drawing on previous theoretical discussions of the corporate form and American citizenship and personhood, this article concludes that Citizens United not only allowed for new corporate power in the political sphere, but actively worked against the flourishing of a more humane and inclusive American citizenship in ways that legal anthropologists may wish to address as a matter of theory as much as politics.

The Article
oLAR Website
Spillover (Supplement to Professor Coleman's Article)