Matthew Hull, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Incorporations: Capitalism and the Translation of Social Forms

Incorporation, a process by which a group of individuals is constituted as a legal entity, should be placed alongside commoditization as a major mechanism through which human activities are drawn into capitalist processes. In contrast to commoditization, which draws labor, land, and things into capitalist transactions, incorporation brings the guidance of collective life into a capitalist order. Through incorporation, groups become recognizable to economic and political actors. This paper will explore incorporation through an examination of the great variety of kinds of sociality that have translated themselves into the form of the Anglo-American corporation, including an Indian village, US churches, parts of the Pakistan army, Maori/Native American/Canadian tribes, New Guinea descent groups. Of particular interest is how both the pre-existing sociality and the emergent corporation are shaped by their relations.

Matthew Hull is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the nexus of representation, technology, and institutions.  His book, Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan (University of California Press, May 2012), examines governance as a semiotic and material practice through an account of the role of writing and written artifacts in the operations of city government in Islamabad. He has also worked on the deployment of American technologies of democracy in urban India from the late 1950s and early 1960s. He is currently working on the history and theory of the modern corporation and lotteries in India.

All seminars in the series.