This essay examines the problem of the corporation as an “artificial person” and as a form of political organization in the early modern period, using Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigations (1598–1600) to explore models of collective, corporate narration and competing images of group formation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It turns to the work of Freud in order to propose an analysis of the “corporate ego,” joining Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) and Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921) with the work of the sociologist of science Bruno Latour and the critic Roland Barthes in order to suggest ways of thinking and writing about impersonal institutional structures. The essay has been written in the voice of Freud, as a hypothetical lost lecture from the Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis; its main goal is to model how we might replace key political concepts such as the “state,” the “human,” and the “person” with those of the “network,” the “assemblage,” and the process of “translation.”

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