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AHRC Award: Judging Images. The making, management and consumption of judicial images

Professor Leslie Moran has received an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) from January 2014 to October 2015 to build an international multidisciplinary network of scholars, legal practitioners, judges, policy makers, artists, journalists and educators.

The focus of the network is the judicial image and the project is entitled 'Judging Images: the making, management and consumption of judicial images'. The goal is generate a new expert network that will enhance research capacity and invigorate interaction with practitioners in the media and creative industries involved in the practical day to day aspects of image making, image management and image use. The funds made available by the AHRC will be used to draw together expertise that is currently scattered across jurisdictions and compartmentalized according to disciplinary boundaries.

The image of the judge has long performed an important symbolic role in the legitimisation of legal systems and State sanctioned power. The form judicial images take is diverse: from mediaeval funeral monuments, painted portraits, official photographs, fictional TV characters to amateur videos uploaded onto YouTube. The audiences for these images are also multiple including fellow judges, lawyers, litigants, trial spectators, local elites and the general public.

The ongoing political and cultural significance of judicial images is powerfully illustrated by contemporary debates about cameras in the courts and criticisms of the judiciary as appearing ‘out of touch’ in their scarlet robes and full bottom wigs.  Diminishing audiences at trials over the last century has generated concerns about the quantity and quality of information about courts and judges in the popular media that play the part of the ‘eyes and ears’ of the public. Domestic and imported courtroom drama, new formats such as ‘reality Court TV’ and technological changes provide a rich diet of fictions available 24/7 as far and wide as the digital network allows. Together these multiplying second hand accounts feed both popular scrutiny of what judges do and related calls for more judicial accountability. They are the stuff that boosts or undermines public confidence in the justice system.

The grant will be used to host three workshops organised around the themes production, management and consumption of the judicial image.

  • The first workshop will be in early November 2014.
  • This will be followed by workshops in February and June 2015.
  • A public lecture in July 2015 will close the formal stages of the project.

Throughout the project will be supported by a dedicated website and social media applications. where the curious will be able to find images, podcasts and other research resources. The website includes information about the workshops and public lecture, a series of virtual exhibitions, key resources, and details about network members. The Judicial Images Network website address is http://judicialimages.org You can also follow the project's activities via Twitter @JudicialImages

Professor Moran will be working on this project with co-investigator and ex-Birkbeck colleage Professor Linda Mulcahy who is now based in the Law Department at the London School of Economics.

Contact details: Leslie Moran: l.moran@lse.ac.uk and Linda Mulcahy: l.mulcahy@lse.ac.uk

 

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