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Authors

Judith Resnik

Abstract

This six-meter aluminum windswept female form hangs as if a shingle on a busy street corner in Melbourne, Australia. What possessed designers in 2002 to put this odd image outside a building and assume that passers-by would connect the imagery to courts, rather than see the figure as a warrior princess, an opera singer, or find it incomprehensible? Why do readers of this volume recognize this image as "Justice," and why does that legibility matter today?

Those questions reflect one theme in Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms, in which we explored the relationship, over centuries, between courts and democracy. The visual narratives adorning adjudication reveal the disjuncture between contemporary iterations of adjudication and their historic antecedents. Rulers of all kinds have needed to enforce their laws and, over centuries, enshrined Justice as their marker. More recent social movements have transformed adjudication into a democratic practice, and courthouses have come to replace Justice as an icon not only of adjudication but of government more generally. Thus, even as the pictorial recedes, the material presentations continue to reveal the ideological premises of adjudication.

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