Call for Papers: Gardens of Justice

My colleague Ruth Buchanan directed me to a most interesting call for papers for a critical legal conference to be held in Stockholm in September 2012 on the theme of “Gardens of Justice.” A description and details appear below:

Confirmed plenary speakers:

Marianne Constable (Berkeley)
Angus McDonald (Staffordshire)
Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
Sundhya Pahuja (Melbourne)

The theme for next year’s Critical Legal Conference is “Gardens of Justice”. Although the theme may be interpreted in different ways, it suggests thinking about law and justice as a physical as well as a social environment, created for specific purposes, at a certain distance from society and yet as an integral part of it. The theme also invites you to think about justice as a concrete metaphor rather than an abstract concept. Just like any ordinary garden, legal institutions affect both people working in them and people who are just passing through their arrangements.

The theme “Gardens of Justice” further suggests a plurality of justice gardens that function together or that are at times at odds with each other. There are for instance well ordered French gardens, with meticulously trimmed plants and straight angles, but that also plays tricks on your perception. There are English gardens that simultaneously look natural – un-written – and well kept, inviting you to take a slow stroll or perhaps sit down and read a book. There are closed gardens, surrounded by fences, and with limited access for ordinary people. There are gardens organized around ruins, let’s call them Roman gardens, where you can get a sense of the historical past, but without feeling threatened by its strangeness. There are Japanese stone gardens made for meditation rather than movement. There are zoological gardens, where you can study all those animal species that do not have a proper sense of justice, no social contracts, no inequality and social injustice, and no legal systems. There is, indeed, the Jungle, a real or imaginary place outside the Gardens of Law.

The conference “Gardens of Justice” invites you to look at law and justice from a different and critical perspective:
– as a physical and spatializing structure;
– as a place where symbolic orders and disorders become visible and may be acted out;
– as therapy session;
– as social topography and/or geography;
– as gendered and gendering;
– as pluralistic and (un)fair;
– as political cartography on a global scale;
– as process and phantasy;
– as theatre and/or temple of justice;
– as social utopia and social dystopia;
– as nomos and/or physis.

We encourage you to make your own interpretations of the theme of “Gardens of Justice”. We invite individual papers and proposals for streams, roundtables and workshops. Proposals should consist of a short abstract (max 250 words). Deadline for proposal of streams, roundtables and workshops is 31 March 2012; and for individual papers 31 May 2012.

The conference venue is Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) in Stockholm. The conference is organised by Skolan för datavetenskap och kommunikation, KTH; Juridiska institutionen, Lunds universitet; and Juridiska institutionen, Göteborgs universitet.

Organising committee: Matilda Arvidsson, Leila Brännström, Merima Bruncevic, and Leif Dahlberg.

Contact: dahlberg(at)

Very literal of me, I know, but how could I resist posting beauteous pictures of actual gardens as an accompaniment to the foregoing? Above is an Italian garden amidst Roman ruins, and below are the gardens of Versailles, and a Japanese garden in Osaka, all public domain images borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.

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