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Hanne Petersen

Visiting Professor of Law from
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Empires wax and wane; states cleave asunder and coalesce (Chinese Saying)

Professional biography
Research interests
Influence beyond the academy
Inspiring passions and concerns
Most significant publications
Hopes for the Visiting Professor Programme

Professional biography
Professor Hanne Petersen is professor of legal culture at the University of Copenhagen, where she has worked with intermissions since 1983. She was a Jean Monnet Scholar at the European University Institute in Florence from 1993-94, a professor of jurisprudence and sociology of law at the University of Greenland, Nuuk from 1995-99. After having returned to Copenhagen, she received a professorship in Greenlandic sociology of law from 2001-2006, requiring her to teach in both Nuuk and Copenhagen. From 2007-10 she was appointed Professor II at the University of Tromsø, Norway. In 2009 she was appointed professor of legal culture at the University of Copenhagen, and from 2011-12 she was Hedda Andersson guest professor at Lund University. She has participated in numerous Nordic and European international and interdisciplinary research projects.

What are your main research interests?
I dealt with legal pluralism very early as a way to understand the role of women in a labour market organized along male norms and traditions. Since the expansion of the EU and the collapse of the Soviet Union, interest has been growing in legal pluralism and legal culture. Western, national, and legal culture under historical masculine domination will increasingly be influenced by the challenges from a reconstituted world. I am recently very interested in how Asia takes up a new role, and global interdependence and interconnectedness is becoming a norm.

How does your research have influence beyond the academic world? Does this include any roles you have beyond the academy?
I had a grant at the European University Institute and years of cooperation with interdisciplinary colleagues there. I have facilitated research in Africa and taught interdisciplinary courses in the Arctic for a decade (lived in Nuuk and was professor II in Tromsø). I have evaluated hundreds and hundreds of research applications for the European Research Council (as well as earlier for the Danish Council). I have been a member of the Danish Equality Board for six years, deciding on cases which gave rise to considerable public debate. I have worked with women in the Middle East since 2008 and on China since 2009. And I have been Hedda Andersson professor at Lund University recently.

Is teaching still a significant part of your working life? What particular method or approach would you say characterises your teaching?
I have always loved teaching – especially the possibility of teaching in new fields and developing new courses. Recently I co-taught a course together with a much younger Chinese lawyer on Chinese legal culture and business law. That was a great learning experience and inspiration, which we both as well as the students enjoyed a lot. I also have enjoyed teaching international and interdisciplinary classes, where comparisons and discussions of diverse legal cultures come very naturally.

What specific passions or concerns particularly inspire you in your work?
Besides loving to teach, I also enjoy research a lot, and I have recently taken up research, which links China and the Arctic. The collisions between and combinations of welfare and market economies and values and their normative consequences are crucial for the world today. The challenges of creating sustainable balances in the future should concern all coming generations. I think we need to combine competition with contributions to the common goal of all. “Even if a sparrow is small it still has all organs” is another Chinese saying. What is the contribution of small Arctic and Nordic communities – the small sparrows of the world – to the world.

Which of your publications would you regard as the most significant and why?
I have written on labour law, women’s law, legal pluralism, legal culture, law and music, law and love, law and religion and recently on law and art. I feel privileged that I have lived during a period where it was possible to combine fields of knowledge and venture into new field of legal research. Because of this diverse profile of publications, I cannot point to any specifically significant publication. Perhaps the last one linking the situation of Chinese and Greenlandic women and their creative assimilation.

What are you particularly hoping to achieve during your time as a Visiting Professor in Gothenburg?
I hope to give and receive inspiration to students, researchers and colleagues. Gothenburg is a harbor city, which has historically been oriented towards the world, and it is a big industrial city, which is experiencing globalization and its contributions and tensions close at hand. I look forward to learn more about that and to hopefully share whatever experience I have that may be useful in this context.

Hanne Petersen


Would you like to meet Hanne and/or have an idea for future cooperation?

Send an email to her contact person at the School:
Eva-Maria Svensson

Or visit her home university website!

Focus areas:

  • Legal culture
  • Asian and Arctic perspectives
  • Gender issues
  • Sustainability

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-07-09