This month the journal Itinerario publishes a Discussion Forum about ‘Corporate Constitutionalism’.  The Discussion Forum is closely tied to Dr William A. Pettigrew’s project at the University of Kent: ‘Corporate Constitutionalism and the Dialogue Between the Global and Local in Seventeenth Century English History’.  Courtesy of CUP, the Discussion Forum is available free-of-charge to all Itinerario readers until 31 March 2016 click here. You are invited to have your say on the Itinerario Facebook page .  The on-line debate will start on Monday, 1 February 2016, and end on Friday, 5 February 2016.  Dr. Martine van Ittersum, Associate Editor of Itinerario, will moderate the debate.  Dr. Pettigrew has kindly agreed to respond to the comments of readers.

 The Discussion Forum’s opening paper proposes that we consider trading corporations as innovating constitutional actors at the corporate, state, and transnational levels – an approach that Dr. Pettigrew labels ‘Corporate Constitutionalism’. Dr. Pettigrew suggests that it was the corporation’s jurisdictional evasiveness and constitutional suppleness that explains its durability as a vehicle for international trade.  His essay explores the anatomy of corporate constitutionalism through a case study of the Royal African Company. Although based upon English corporations and English constitutional traditions in the seventeenth century, Dr. Pettigrew asks whether the concept of corporate constitutionalism may have significance in wider European and non-European contexts and in different time periods.

 Dr. Pettigrew’s essay is followed by five commentaries from leading scholars who explore the potential analytical benefits of his notion of corporate constitutionalism.  David Armitage stresses the need to ‘unbound’ the concept into different settings and periods. Paul Halliday explores the juridical meanings of the jurisdictional evasion that Dr. Pettigrew sees as characteristic of successful trading corporations in this period. Vicki Hsueh asks whether or not the notion of corporate constitutionalism adequately addresses the central question of power in constitutional theory.  Tom Leng examines the utility of the concept of corporate constitutionalism for an earlier period and in the narrower arena of cross-cultural interactions within Europe. Finally, Philip J Stern revisits the central issue of the corporation’s biological similarity to the state and asks whether corporate constitutionalism fully addresses the distinctive sociology of the trading corporation.

 Dr. Pettigrew is originally a scholar of colonial British America.  He has also researched the constitutional underpinnings of economic growth in later Stuart England.  Since 2012, he has led a team of scholars at the University of Kent – known as the Centre for the Political Economies of International Commerce ( – to investigate the ways in which two familiar narratives of seventeenth-century English history – overseas expansion and constitutional change – can be integrated through the cross-cultural interactions of trading corporations.  The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust.



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