In her PhD project, Afrooz Maghzi analyses out-of-court dispute resolution processes in minority communities and considers how the state can adequately address and perhaps regulate their application. The first step in her research was to develop an analytical typology of out-of-court dispute settlements in minority communities, and the legislative approach to them in the UK and Germany. These countries have been chosen because both are multicultural nations with a recent history of contentious and intense academic and public debate on the application of out-of-court dispute settlement in minority communities.
Maghzi then applies this analytical model to an empirical investigation of modes and mechanisms of dispute resolution among the Afghan diaspora in Germany. In this part, priority is given to empirical data collection through qualitative (semi-structured, narrative, open) interviews with experts from academia, mediators, and other participants in dispute settlements in the Afghan community, as well as participant observation of conflict resolution procedures, including informal follow-up discussions with relevant actors. Maghzi’s choice of the Afghan community, which comprises a number of different ethnic groups, is based on the fact that it is one of the fastest growing migrant communities in Germany in recent years. Moreover, there is evidence of distinctive religious and customary normative orders in this community that could come into conflict with German law.
While the use of informal justice mechanisms to settle disputes has been a central topic of interest in socio-legal studies and anthropology for a long time, the focus, especially in German academia, has predominantly been on non-Western, small-scale societies. Despite the increasing concern with out-of-court settlements of conflicts in minority communities in Germany, thus far little research has been conducted on this phenomenon, especially when compared to other Western countries with a long history of migration, such as Canada and the UK.
Since joining the Law & Anthropology Department, Maghzi has had the opportunity to look beyond black-letter law and how out-of-court dispute settlements of minority communities are defined and perceived in state law. The conceptual and theoretical sociolegal and anthropological literature on disputes and their resolution has helped her develop a more expansive and inclusive analytical framework that can take into account the structural position of a minority group in relation to the majority group.