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Sitting in DarknessMark Twain's Asia and Comparative Racialization$
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Hsuan L. Hsu

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479880416

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479880416.001.0001

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“Coolies” and Corporate Personhood in Those Extraordinary Twins

“Coolies” and Corporate Personhood in Those Extraordinary Twins

(p.83) 3 “Coolies” and Corporate Personhood in Those Extraordinary Twins
Sitting in Darkness

Hsuan L. Hsu

NYU Press

This chapter places Mark Twain's Those Extraordinary Twins in two related contexts: the establishment of corporate personhood (along with Fourteenth Amendment protections for corporations) in the U.S. Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886) and popular representations of Chinese railroad workers as swarming, monstrous “coolies” functioning as collective—rather than individuated—agents. The chapter shows how Those Extraordinary Twins connects Pudd'nhead Wilson's interest in the legal fiction of race with other legal fictions central to the broader economic transformations of the Gilded Age. Unsuccessfully prosecuted “as a corporation,” the conjoined twins embody postwar disruptions precipitated by industrialization, monopoly capitalism, and the increasing prominence of immigrants as both a labor source and a means of dividing and controlling the U.S. working class.

Keywords:   corporate personhood, Mark Twain, Those Extraordinary Twins, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, Chinese railroad workers, coolies, Pudd'nhead Wilson, race, conjoined twins, immigrants

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