Off the Shelf: Ira Bashkowa

April 1, 2010 — Ira Bashkow, associate professor of anthropology, "An Anthropological Theory of the Corporation." Prickly Paradigm Press (distributed by the University of Chicago Press).

Corporations today control a commanding share of the world's capital, many even surpassing governments in scale. While much criticism has been leveled at the privileges corporations enjoy as "legal individuals," anthropologists also know there is nothing unusual or inherently wrong about the personification of collectivities.

"An Anthropological Theory of the Corporation" proposes a new anthropological framework for understanding the investor-owned corporation, focusing on the way it organizes property and articulates the world of business with finance.

Integrating studies in legal history, economic sociology and the cultural economy of finance, University of Virginia anthropology professor Ira Bashkow explains why we must improve upon oversimplified producer-consumer-nation-state models of capitalist political economy. This is especially important if we are to understand how our own thinking may be influenced by the growing dependence that scholars, like so many others, have come to feel on rising corporate stock prices for the financial health of their universities and their own fragile financial security.

— By Anne Bromley