Foreword to: Gardens of Justice

Arvidsson et al (2013) 'Gardens of Justice' 39 The Australian Feminist Law Journal 2

Posted: 5 Jul 2014

See all articles by Matilda Arvidsson

Matilda Arvidsson

University of Gothenburg - Department of Law

Merima Bruncevic

Department of Law, School of Business Law and Economics, University of Gothenburg

Leila Brännström

Lund University

Leif Dahlberg

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Date Written: July 4, 2014


Our Gardens of Justice special themed issue of the Australian Feminist Law Journal grew out of the 2012 Critical Legal Conference in Stockholm and its theme of Gardens of Justice, a conference organised by Matilda Arvidsson, Merima Bruncevic, Leila Brannstrom and Leif Dahlberg. We issued a Call for Papers early in 2013 in which several conference theme questions were repeated. We called for papers devoted to thinking about law and justice as a physical as well as a social environment. The theme suggested a plurality of justice gardens that may function together but at times also may be at odds with each other. We invited authors to think freely and critically about both the concrete and the metaphorical garden, and invited articles that addressed questions of law and justice as spatial and spatializing structures, as social topography and geography, as political cartography on a global scale, as places where symbolic orders and disorders become visible and may be acted out, as mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, as masculine and feminine and as social utopia. Later in 2013 we re-issued the Call for Papers emphasizing the metaphorical and the juridical linking of gardens and justice: Gardens and Justice have been joined as figurae, genres and topoi in the classical writings of Virgil, in the Old Testament text of Genesis and the Garden of Eden, in Milton's epic of Paradise Lost, in Blackstone in Commentaries on the Laws of England, and not the last, in Neil Young's lyrics 'After the Garden', in his 2006 album Living with War. These and numerous other texts are peopled by figures who live at home, and others who depart from home. Together, and apart, they invite us to continue their genre of living and writing in a world of imperfection, suffering and violence, while maintaining other possibilities and other beginnings. The AFLJ invited articles which investigated the use of garden narratives, whether in jurisprudential writings, in film, in literary works, in political theory, or postcolonial theory, amongst other disciplinary conventions and media. Amongst the numerous questions which could be pursued, we posed the following: How do garden narratives and their figures structure an understanding of Justice, and for what purposes have gardens and justice been linked in national and international law? Are gardens our images of utopia, heaven, peace, or simply a homecoming from the deserts of life? Do gardens help us understand nations and territory? Are gardens ever secular? Are there historic forms of governance encoded in garden narratives? In what ways do Justice narratives in the 21st century understand the figure who leaves the garden as having a persona as stranger, serf, refugee or simply human, or nothuman?

Keywords: justice, law, gardens, space, critical legal conference, critical jurisprudence

JEL Classification: K49

Suggested Citation

Arvidsson, Matilda and Bruncevic, Merima and Brännström, Leila and Dahlberg, Leif, Foreword to: Gardens of Justice (July 4, 2014). Arvidsson et al (2013) 'Gardens of Justice' 39 The Australian Feminist Law Journal 2, Available at SSRN:

Matilda Arvidsson (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - Department of Law ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30


Merima Bruncevic

Department of Law, School of Business Law and Economics, University of Gothenburg ( email )

Vasagatan 1
Goteborg, 40530

Leila Brännström

Lund University ( email )

Lilla Gråbrödersgatan 4
Lund, SC Skane SE-22100

Leif Dahlberg

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) ( email )

Lindstedtsvägen 30-100 44
Stockholm, SE-100 44

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