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The Role of Law in Corporate Accountability

Stuart Kirsch


This special issue addresses the role of law in corporate accountability. Case studies reference people affected by asbestos in Italy, a coal company anticipating closure in Colombia, and both activists and human rights lawyers concerned with the impacts of mining in Ecuador. The afterword considers the significance of temporality in the law, including limits on retrospective claims and efforts to expand the prospective reach of both the law and state policy. It describes the perspectival character of the law in which the forum determines how the underlying facts are seen. It examines how responsibility, against a backdrop of distributed agency, is conceptualized by shortening or expanding chains of liability. It also points to the need for stronger connections between the anthropology of suffering and the discipline's ethical turn. Finally, it suggests that the legal claims discussed here are aspirational in the sense of describing how the world ought to be.

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Property effects. Social networks and compensation claims in Melanesia