Corporeal, corporate, self and others.


The body corporate


The English word ‘corporate’ is recorded in use from the 15th century meaning  ‘united in one body,’ from the Latin term corporatus, which is the past participle of corporare, meaning  ‘form into a body,’ from corpus, meaning ‘body.’ Unsurprisingly, the term ‘corporeal’ shares the same root.

The contemporary Anglo-Western legal use of  the term ‘corporate’ pivots on key ideas about commonly held property, and being considered a single jural entity. One can see how these ideas derived from ideas about particularities and exclusionary control and defense of one’s body, of one’s own person or self.

In terms of cross-cultural anthropological studies, this is a really interesting and important question to ponder – what do ‘corporate bodies’ (or close equivalents), and associative concepts of collective property look like in cases where the body and the [individual and social] self is understood differently.

The chapter I’m currently writing has me wondering what Strathern’s ‘ notion of the dividual might suggest about the idea of ‘collective’ or ‘corporate bodies’ in Melanesia, for instance – and how this way of conceiving the self and others might affect or shape general ideas about ‘property’ and forms and patterns of exchange relations.

All human bodies are ‘exclusive’ in one way or another.



1 Comment

Filed under Anthropology, Thesis/Yolngu related writing

One response to “Corporeal, corporate, self and others.

  1. Pingback: The (Dis)combobulated Ethnographer: thoughts on polygyny, sorcery, totemism… and stuff | Fieldnotes & Footnotes

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