Visualising sociolegal concepts using found images

This experiment was part of my research (supported by a Socio Legal Studies Association small grant) into the use of design-based methods by civil society actors in relation to econolegal aspects of the proposed reunification of Cyprus. The aim was to try to generate visual representations for some of the key concepts that I came across during my reading.

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Stage 1

I noted key concepts in pencil on the title page of each book I read, typed them up, printed them out, cut them into strips, dropped them on a counter and looked hard. This was an extremely valuable process. A key part of any research process is generating a conceptual vocabulary that brings together a new argument. This almost always requires a degree of translation. This experiment made the scope of that task very visible.

Stage 2

To keep thing as light touch and experimental as possible I restricted myself to using images found in image-heavy books in my house. These related to topics such as art, gardening, data visualisation. I leafed through the books and when something felt interesting and potentially relevant I photographed it, printed it and trimmed it. I also added in a few Cyprus materials.

Stage 3

Finally I started with the images and added concepts. Not all the concepts found a visual home. Some of the matches where partial (in the sense that the image pointed to part but not all of a concept).

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The experiment was useful for the fact that it made me think deeply about each concept, hold it in  my hands and think about communicating it. All this having written only the words in the above pile. The benefits of having faced, albeit fleetingly, many of the conceptual complexities of this topic will surely be felt when I come to write about it at length.


‘Cyprus Problem’ or  Cypriot Puzzle:

  • Kerr-Lindsay (2016) Resolving Cyprus
  • Kerr-Lindsay (2011) The Cyprus Problem: what everyone needs to know
  • Loizides (2016) Designing Peace: Cyprus and institutional innovation in divided societies
  • Papadakis (2005) Echoes from the dead zone: across the Cyprus divide
  • Papadakis, Peristianis and Weltz eds (2006) Divided Cyprus: modernity, history and an island in conflict

Community, law and trust

  • Cooper (2014) Everyday utopias: the conceptual life of promising spaces
  • Cotterrell (1997) Law’s community: legal theory in sociological perspective
  • Perry-Kessaris (2008) Global business, law as a communal resource in Indian investment climate relations
  • Norman (2005) Emotional design: why we love (or hate) everyday things

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