Photograph: Paulo Pimenta
Elisa Flores is a Justice of the Peace in the North of Portugal. She travels to small places to try to solve peacefully what some would call minor or unimportant conflicts. Today, in the rural village of Fonte da Arcadinha, one fifth of its population has come to testify on either side of the controversy. The opposing parties are cousins. The issue has to do with land and the water passing through it. Elisa Flores finds that what brings people to a Justice of the Peace Court seems to be a new conflict, but what often lies underneath are age-old resentments passed on from generation to generation. Like that dispute that was apparently about dogs destroying a vegetable garden, when it was really from an ancient family episode about access to a water source. In court, while talking to the parties, she often brings up a family episode of her own. It was that time when her 3 year old daughter came home from kindergarten very upset. When asked what the reason of her anger was she could no longer remember what had rattled her.