Emotional tropes in the courtroom. On representation of affect and emotion in legal court proceedings
2009 (English)In: Law and Humanities, ISSN 1752-1491, Vol. 3, no 2, 175-205 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The modern legal courtroom is a peculiar place. Like the theatre it is a space open for many kinds of drama, verbal re-enactments of events and forced resolutions of human conflicts. There are often strong emotions at play in the courtroom: desire and love, jealousy and anger, but also sadness and remorse, fear and suffering. These emotions are controlled and tempered by the physical design of the courtroom, by legal procedure and the rule-bound rationality of law, but also by the serious attitude of the judge(s) and lay judges. Although in legal proceedings the parties are restrained from giving voice to emotions, in reality feelings and affects show through: in glances, timber of voice, flushes, crying, laughter, smell of sweat. Expressions of emotion and affect may be involuntary or staged, but in either case they are very much part of what is said and done in the courtroom. However, in the legal representation of court proceedings - in the transcripts and the rulings - these human emotions and affects become invisible, the emotions have been filtered away or have sunk to the bottom of legal space. In my essay I explore the peculiar emotive social space constructed and enacted in the courtroom, in particular the ambiguous attitude towards human emotions in law: on the one hand as disturbing and dangerous, and on the other as the true basis of human character and social conflict. The study is based on an ethnographic study of the lower level court in Stockholm (Stockholms tingsrätt) and forms part of a larger study on "Legal Spaces. The construction and representation of legal spaces in law, literature and political philosophy.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Hart , 2009. Vol. 3, no 2, 175-205 p.
Law and Humanities, Law and Emotion
Law and Society Humanities
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-47823OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-47823DiVA: diva2:456374
QC 201111142011-11-142011-11-142011-11-14Bibliographically approved