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Weekly Roundup: December 9, 2022


At the Blog

On Monday, Dan Rohde responded to Carly Knight’s recent post about the displacement of the once popular understanding of the corporation as a creation of state. Rohde argues that while claims about the nature of the corporation are often linked to the fight to hold powerful corporate actors accountable, such a view actually works against more radical understandings of the relationship between law and the market. As he writes, “At first blush, advocating for a return to the concession theory seems to denaturalize the private sector, and to promote a new sense of the power of law in underlying markets. On second glance, however, I worry that it does exactly the opposite: by asserting that corporations must be understood as explicit state delegates in order to assert that they serve public purposes, it runs the risk of further entrenching a state vs market approach that I believe much work in the LPE vein has rightfully challenged. Rather than simply opposing the democratic state to an undemocratic and presumably autonomous private sector, much of the very best work in LPE has underlined how law and the state enable the market ab initio, and how alterations to legal architecture can shift the nature of the private sector fundamentally. The question, in this approach, becomes less about which institutions we associate with the private market as opposed to the state, than how to redesign markets at the root.” Carly Knight offers a brief response here, and offers a preview of her forthcoming research.

On Tuesday, Ezra Rosser kicked off a symposium on his recent book A Nation Within by describing how natural resource use – from livestock to oil, coal, and uranium – fundamentally shaped the development of the Navajo Nation government and the relationship between the tribe and non-Indian interests. As he writes, “There is a long tail associated with each of these forms of natural resource use and exploitation. The trauma of livestock reduction diminished the Navajo Nation’s ability to set in place land use policies that would both account for the rights of grazing permittees and permit the construction of homes near urban areas. Oil, gas, uranium, and coal revenues fueled the growth of the tribal bureaucracy but also, arguably, facilitated political corruption. Yet, while A Nation Within provides a land-centered history of the Navajo Nation, the story it tells is neither a pessimistic account nor a prescription for what the tribe should do going forward.”

And on Thursday, Angela Riley continued the symposium by discussing the importance of self-determination to the revitalization of Indian cultures, while also emphasizing the need for good governance. As she writes, “If there is an answer to the problems raised by A Nation Within, it lies in tribal self-determination, which is itself fundamentally pluralistic and malleable. By its nature, it empowers Indigenous Peoples to determine their own futures and destinies based on what fits each tribes’ own value system. But self-determination is not a panacea; rather, it is a path. And it comes with weighty obligations, insofar as it requires Indian nations to determine for themselves the metes and bounds of sustainable practices according to their own cultures and communities. In breaking free from colonial bonds, it also diminishes the impacts of colonialism as a sufficient excuse for dysfunctional government in a modern world.”

In LPE Land

Yiran Zhang made a new deposit in the syllabus bank: The Law of Care Work. More generally, if you haven’t done so lately, you might want to take a look around our knowledge emporium. Interested in movement lawyering? Right this way. Curious about what they’re learning at Harvard? You don’t even need a library card. We can even help you design some real utopias.

Death Panel unlocked a recent gem of an episode, in which Beatrice and Phil speak with Gabe Winant about the birth of the contemporary care economy and its relationship to deindustrialization, the shaping of the “private welfare state” in the 20th century, and resisting the temptation to look back uncritically toward the “golden age” of organized labor. (And for subscribers, an episode in which Amy Kapczynski discusses the political economy of drug development and intellectual property)