What connection is there between flesh and the legal person? Flesh is the most material aspect of human existence, while the legal person is one of its most abstract manifestations. The method is a phenomenological analysis of legal records of the body and identity, including everyday documents such as credit cards. These are analysed in terms of the information they contain or refer to, and the physical processes by which they are compiled or activated. These physical traces are linked to law and selfhood by narratives, including those by which we makes sense of our lives as well as forensic narratives that seek to ascribe responsibility for actions. Tracing its ancient origins from theatre, law and theology, the concept of the person is found to have continuing relevance to a conception of self that is dynamic and performative, mediating between the physical and the social. It is capable of attributing identity and responsibility, while at the same time admitting play and indeterminacy into our constructions and narratives of our selves.
This article was originally published as Mohr, R, Flesh and the Person, Australian Feminist Law Journal, 29, 2008, 31-52.