SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

The Corporation, Law and Capitalism: A Radical Perspective on the Role of Law in the Global Political Economy

Dr. Grietje Baars

Date: 4 November 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 4 November 2020Time: 4:30 PM


Type of Event: 0


In this paper on The Corporation, Law and Capitalism, Grietje Baars closes a major gap in historical-materialist scholarship. They demonstrate how the corporation, capitalism’s main engine from city-state and colonial times to the present multinational, is a masterpiece of legal technology. The symbiosis between law and capital becomes acutely apparent in the question of ‘corporate accountability’. Baars provides a detailed analysis of corporate human rights and war crimes trials, from the Nuremberg industrialists’ trials to current efforts. The work shows that precisely because of law’s relationship to capital, law cannot prevent or remedy the ‘externalities’ produced by corporate capitalism. This realisation will generate the space required to formulate a different answer to ‘the question of the corporation’, and to global corporate capitalism more broadly, outside of the law.

Bio: Dr Grietje Baars Grietje works on the role of law in society, using queer and Marxist theory to understand (and ultimately subvert) the constitutive, ordering and ideological functions of law. Having worked on the political economy of international law, and law's gendering separately, in their latest project, Queering Corporate Power, they combine the two to discover how Queer theory (and practice) can help reverse the distributive effects of the corporate form, the 'motor of capitalism'. Their monograph (Law, Capitalism and the Corporation, Brill, 2019) describes the way international criminal law has been utilised to obscure the economic causes and effects of conflict, through (amongst others) an in-depth analysis of the Post-WWII Nuremberg Trials of the German Industrialists. Grietje has also co-edited, with Andre Spicer, The Corporation, a Critical, Multidisciplinary Handbook, a volume which has come out of the ESRC funded Critical Corporation seminar series (CUP 2017). They gained their PhD from UCL in 2012 and are currently a senior lecturer at the City Law School as well as a regular faculty member at the Harvard Institute for Global Law & Policy's global and regional workshops.

The seminars will be held via Collaborate at this link: Politics and International Studies Departmental Seminars

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