About Me

I am Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Currently my chair also covers socio-legal studies and law and gender studies both of which have previously had designated academic leaders at Faculty level. I coordinate socio-legal scholarship in the Faculty (and beyond) through the Helsinki Socio-Legal Initiative (HSLI).

Before joining the staff at Helsinki, I was Professor of Legal Theory at the University of Leicester, UK, from 2004 to 2011. From 2001 to 2004, I worked at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, an interdisciplinary research institute, as Deputy-Director and Fellow, and prior to that I served a three year term as Director of the Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland (formerly Finnish Institute in London), a charitable trust advancing cultural and academic co-operation between Finland and the UK and Ireland. I have been involved in the editorial work of two international journals both reflecting my personal research interests: Law and Critique (published by Springer), and Law, Culture and the Humanities (published by Sage). My work is guided by a dedication to multidisciplinarity and international collaboration, and I hope that these will also be reflected in my teaching.

My three published monographs revolve around a central theme.

Thinking Without Desire (Hart, 1999) attempted to show how the ‘scientific’ pursuit for knowledge that legal positivism had adopted from its neo-Kantian affiliations made a philosophy of law impossible. The only philosophical position in relation to law, the book claimed, had to be a ‘first philosophy’.
The second monograph (Järjen lait [“The Laws of Reason”], Tutkijaliitto, 2002) further explored the Kantian and neo-Kantian traditions that continue to condition legal scholarship with epistemological claims and prerequisites.
Finally, Sovereignty, Knowledge, Law (Routledge, 2009) analysed the various ways in which the notion of sovereignty has been used to prevent the scientific project from failing.

In addition, I have coedited two volumes on constitutional theory with Swedish friends and colleagues Matilda Arvidsson and Leila Brännström.

The first, entitled The Contemporary Relevance of Carl Schmitt: Law, Politics, Theology (Routledge, 2016), attempted to reassess the work of the German constitutional theorist from a number of disciplinary perspectives.
The second, Constituent Power: Law, Popular Rule and Politics (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), focuses on contemporary politics through key themes such as popular sovereignty, the ’people’ as the subject of a constituent power, populism, and radical democracy.

The three projects that I am currently working on are spin-offs from the former.

My main project deals with law, power and space and is entitled Seats of Power: Ethnographies of Constituted Space. The constituted side of public power has always been the standard focus of mainstream approaches in constitutional law and constitutionalism. Both deal primarily with legal definitions of competences that constitutions assign to various government branches and authorities: the legislature has the constitutional competence to pass laws, the judiciary to apply them in individual cases, etc. In this project, my focus is very different. Constituted power, namely, also embodies a physical environment in which these legal and political institutions reside. Think of a public square hosting government buildings, a courthouse, or a monumental statue of a national hero. These spatially ordered environments also play a significant role when individuals negotiate their everyday relations with public power and domination, and they are most emphatically present in state capitals and government centres, i.e. in seats of power.

A second project investigates changes in the socio-political status of the judiciary as it has evolved from the relatively closed legal bureaucracy typical of classic modernity into an independent media actor in its own right. Judicial communication is a hitherto neglected factual dimension of judicial power that affects both the socio-political authority of the courts and its democratic pedigree. Constitutionally speaking, the judicial branch faces the state, but communication provides an interface through which it addresses civil society more generally. In its full scale, the project will focus on the regulatory framework from which the judiciary infers its communication objectives, as well as the judicial media culture in which that communication is both planned and executed. You can read something about the theoretical framework of this project here.

Finally, I remain committed to my ongoing attempts to reframe and to radicalise the idea of law as a human science, as a Geisteswissenschaft, or a ‘moral science’ as John Stuart Mill would have called it. Such a reframing would, in my mind, make the somewhat clumsy search for interdisciplinary common ground with the social sciences and the humanities unnecessary. Law is – and has always been – a multidisciplinary project.

I teach jurisprudence and socio-legal-related modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and I am heavily involved in the research training of postgraduate research students. I welcome proposals for supervision from potential research students working in my areas of interest. International students working in English are more than welcome.

The header image is from Coney Island, NY. I’ve uploaded more photographs mainly shot for community college courses here.


You can download a vCard here.