Research Seminar in Sociology of Law with Hedvig Obenius
The Sociology of Law Department arranges a series of research seminars inviting both local and international researchers who are conducting state of the art research within various areas of law and society.
There is a metaphor used when trying to understand law, that is of law being a map. The metaphor was invented in the 80’s by Boaventura de Sousa Santos when cartographers struggled with making our life-sized reality into a carry-around-size map. In other words, making something deep into something flat. To do this reality had to be distorted, and it is this distortion that is the driving force of the metaphor. Today the technological advancements in cartography have made distortion into a lesser problem. When the metaphor was introduced, maps were two-dimensional and analogue. Now they are three-dimensional and digital. Aerial photography, satellites, and GPS have replaced compasses, planimeters, and dividers. And this new toolkit enables us to easily carry around a life-sized map on the smallest of smartphones. By pinching two fingers together or apart on a touch screen we zoom in and out on the map. The shift between scales is swift and seamless. With a single tap a 2D map turns into 3D, from a satellite- to a street view. This means that the original paper map metaphor has lost its figurative potency, or at least to the generation unfamiliar with using paper maps for navigation. And when a metaphor loses its imaginative force, it is a so-called dead metaphor. But rather than burying it I want to explore if it can be kept alive. Can a new understanding of maps inform an updated law-map metaphor? If so, how is an updated metaphor helpful when trying to understand law?
Hedvig Obenius is a PhD candidate in Welfare Law at Linköping University. She holds an MSc in Sociology of Law, from Lund University and a BA in Human Rights from Malmö University. Her studies also includes Administrative Law, Labour Law, EU Law, and the English Legal System. She is mainly interested the thoughts of Critical Legal Theory.