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Impersonations: Troubling the Person in Law and Culture

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 300
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Sheryl N. Hamilton uses five different kinds of persons - corporations, women, clones, computers, and celebrities - to discuss the instability of the concept of personhood and to examine some of the ways in which broader social anxieties are expressed in these case studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9758-4
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Introduction: Troubling the Person
    (pp. 3-30)

    On 25 February 1990, Theresa Marie Schiavo, subsequently known to the world as ‘Terri’ Schiavo, suffers a cardiac arrest apparently caused by a potassium imbalance. Her brain is deprived of oxygen for more than five minutes and severe brain damage results. Her husband, Michael, is appointed her guardian and various medical efforts are undertaken to rehabilitate her. Terri cannot speak or care for herself; she is fed through a feeding tube surgically implanted into her abdomen as she would aspirate any food or liquids placed in her mouth. Within three years of her cardiac arrest, she is pronounced by doctors...

  5. 2 Persona Ficta: The Corporation as Moral Person
    (pp. 31-68)

    Early on 3 December 1984, a holding tank filled with methyl isocyanate overheated in a factory owned by Eveready Industries India Limited and toxic gases were released throughout the heart of the Indian city of Bhopal. Thousands of people were killed outright, some were trampled in their efforts to escape, and gases injured an estimated 150,000 to 600,000, at least 15,000 of whom later died. Eveready Industries, then known as Union Carbide India, was using untested technology, had no action plan for accidents of this scale, and had not informed local authorities of the nature of the chemicals they were...

  6. 3 ‘Not a Sex Victory’: Gendering the Person
    (pp. 69-104)

    The ‘very antithesis of the short-haired woman reformer,’ Cairine Reay Wilson, was appointed Canada’s first woman senator in 1930.¹ Upon taking up her history-making seat, she stated, ‘I owe my appointment to the bravery of the five pioneer women from the Province of Alberta who took the plea for the admission of women to the Senate to the highest court, His Majesty’s Privy Council: they are, Judge Emily F. Murphy, Mesdames Nellie F. McClung, Louise C. McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Irene Parlby’ (Canadian Annual Review, 1928–9: 66). These five women are collectively known as the ‘Famous Five’ and...

  7. 4 Invented Humans: Kinship and Property in Persons
    (pp. 105-142)

    When faced with the question of whether or not one should be able to patent a higher life form in Canada, the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee (CBAC) assuaged our fears: ‘[e]ven if the act of granting a patent on an invented human were not in itself a violation of basic human rights, exercising the patent’s exclusive right to make, use or sell an invented human would almost certainly violate theCanadian Charter of Rights and Freedomsand theCanadian Human Rights Act’ (CBAC, 2002: 8). What is even more interesting than the advisory body to the Canadian government on biotechnology...

  8. 5 Machine Intelligence: Computers as Posthuman Persons
    (pp. 143-182)

    Are you a human being?That was the question recently posed by a savvy music file-sharing site as a security measure before permitting access. The metaphysical status of the music downloader was ascertained through a visual recognition test that only a human being could perceive. The implication of this security measure is, of course, that the person seeking access to the webpage might not, in fact, be human. And in an era where automated data collection bots are cruising the Internet in the service of copyright owners to catch filesharing pirates, this possibility is very real. Indeed, our online environment...

  9. 6 Celebrity Personae: Authenticating the Person
    (pp. 183-220)

    In 1995, musical group Radio Free Vestibule recorded ‘Laurence Olivier for Diet Coke,’ a parody advertisement featuring a deceased Laurence Olivier made possible, as he himself notes in an accent both put-on and ponderous, ‘through the marvellous technology of tape editing.’¹ A mock editing of Olivier’s interviews and film and stage performances, the recording has the characteristic broken, uneven, and cobbled-together sound that such an advertisement would have. After noting that he has been dead for two years, and suggesting that he would not have ‘endorsed a product like this when I was alive,’ he capitulates: ‘my estate has determined...

  10. 7 Conclusion: Impersonations
    (pp. 221-230)

    Rosemary J. Coombe suggests, ‘[s]elf, society and identity are realized only through the expressive cultural activity that reworks those cultural forms that occupy the space of the social imaginary’ (1992b: 78). The person, I have tried to suggest, is just such a cultural form. The person is, and has been, central to our social imaginary, and as I have demonstrated over the course of this book, we are continually troubling it, reworking it. This animated cultural activity is taking place, not only in the person’s ‘natural’ home of the law, but in social sites as diverse as documentary cinema, celebrity...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 231-252)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-282)
  13. Index
    (pp. 283-290)