In the air of the natural history museum: on corporate entanglement and responsibility in uncontained times

Moncrieff, L. (2020) In the air of the natural history museum: on corporate entanglement and responsibility in uncontained times. Law and Critique, 31(3), pp. 253-273. (doi: 10.1007/s10978-020-09280-w)

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This paper discusses corporate entanglement, impactfulness and responsibility in the Anthropocene, amidst events and conditions that ‘uncontain’ time. It takes its direction of travel from artist Brian Jungen’s ‘Cetology’ (2002), a whalebone sculpture made out of cut-up plastic garden chairs, which conjoins the times of earth and world history, as it hangs in the air of the art gallery, ‘as if’ exhibited in the natural history museum. The paper relates ‘Cetology’s’ engagement with natural history, time, and commodification to matters of corporate entanglement and responsibility within company law and governance. Problems with understanding the comparable imprint of large and multinational companies on matters, places, and communities are identified, after the domination of corporate legal frameworks over nature and the stability and perfection of economic incentives at law. The reading of this (critical-legal) situation is developed through theory and engagement with materialist and critical thinkers, who unite in their concern with distributed human–nature relations and the ‘concreteness’ that attends collisions in time, ruin and affect. Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno’s writings are central to this analysis, and strengthen the commentary on ‘natural history’ themes curated by Jungen. The paper contemplates how times’ uncontainment might invoke a change in expectation and method for the company law field, assigning contingency to the corporation and provoking a new mode of reflection about corporate entanglement and responsibility at law.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moncrieff, Dr Lilian
Authors: Moncrieff, L.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Law and Critique
ISSN (Online):1572-8617
Published Online:21 October 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Author
First Published:First published in Law and Critique 31(3): 253-273
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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