Smaller Gods: the divine lives of corporations in the Philippines

Scott MacLochlainn

- completed -

Scott is currently completing research and a book manuscript that emanates in part from his dissertation research, and is an ethnographic and historical study of how Christian practice in the Philippines is increasingly mediated through corporate identities. Intended to quickly solve the problems of Catholic-owned property, as well as to open-up newly available markets to U.S. business interests, the U.S. modern corporate form was introduced to the Philippines at the turn of the twentieth century by the new American colonial government. The explicitly secular corporate model has developed over time, in tension with the ubiquitous and influential role that Christianity has played in the Philippines. Working with Christian, Muslim and indigenous Mangyan groups, as well as with corporate and legal actors, this book argues that the dual identity of religious groups, both as congregations and as corporations, is increasingly influential for contemporary modes of religious formation, as well as for how we understand the ever-quickening shifts in what constitutes and limits the contemporary private corporation. In other words, spaces in and around concepts of the religious - whether related to religious freedom, secularism, divine presence, or indeed the morality of money - push at the limits and constraints of corporate personhood, and its distinction from its members. This book asserts that, inasmuch as the corporation provides an invaluable lens through which to view the history and intersection of modern forms of religion with legal, economic and political governance, communal forms of religious subjectivity enable us to understand the nature of the corporation. 

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