Patrícia Branco (Coimbra, Bonn): Interrogating an Allegory: Justitia. On women and the law


The imagery of justice is (and always has been) a common and popular feature of legal culture in many parts of the world and it can be found everywhere, from courthouses to cartoons. However, the prominent image that has affected us most is that of Lady Justice, a white woman, sometimes appearing with her eyes veiled and other times unveiled, at times bearing scales and a sword in her hands.

But, after all, who is this woman? I intend in this presentation, with the use of some of the materials collected during fieldwork on courthouse architecture in Portugal, to question the allegory of Lady Justice, or Justitia, discussing some of her attributes and features in the 21st century, particularly the behaviors and expectations that are required and imposed upon women by the Law (inside and outside the legal profession), placing the Portuguese reality in a wider context.

Dr. Patrícia Branco


Curriculum Vitae

Socio-legal scholar Patrícia Branco studied at the European Academy of Legal Theory in Brussels and at the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, where she obtained her doctoral degree with a thesis on “Courthouses as spaces of recognition, functionality and access to justice – the case study of family courts in Portugal” in 2013. Having participated in numerous research projects, she currently works as a researcher at the Centro de Estudos Sociais (CES) at Coimbra University and is a member of the Research Group DECIDe. Dr. Branco’s research interests include, inter alia, the sociology of law, space and architecture. Since January 2015, Patrícia Branco is a fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”, where she is working on her research project “Into, from and back again: A discussion on courthouse architecture, the image of justice and literature”.