Last update: 21 September 2021

Here is the link to the new position of Cengiz Barskanmaz

Cengiz Barskanmaz

C.V. | Publications | Project

Research Interests
Comparative Constitutional Law, International and European Law, Non-Discrimination Law, Human Rights, Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Diversity and Intersectionality, and legal ethnography of ethnic and religious minorities

Research Areas
Europe (esp. Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain)
North America (esp. the United States of America)
MENA-region (esp. south-east Turkey, northern Iraq and northern Syria)


Cengiz Barskanmaz joined the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in May 2017. He is Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the research project “Conflict Regulation in Germany’s Plural Society.” Through this project he is conducting a legal ethnography of Yazidis in Germany. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the DePaul University (Chicago) where he co-teaches “Intersectionality and Human Rights” with Sumi Cho and Terry Smith.

Barskanmaz is a legal scholar with a transnational and interdisciplinary approach to law; he is dedicated to “law in action.” As a part of the larger international project “Islam in the West,” he conducted empirical research on Muslims in Germany. As an advocate for non-discrimination law, he has worked closely with several religious and ethnic communities in Berlin. In his capacity as a legal consultant for the Open Society Foundations, he worked on strategic litigation cases in the area of ethnic discrimination in the educational system in Berlin. In the past, Barskanmaz also acted as an expert for the Commission for Constitutional Affairs of the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin (Berlin State Parliament), consulting over the removal of the word “race” from the Berlin Constitution. Furthermore, he served as an expert in the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament) relating a bill on aggravation of penalties for hate speech.

Barskanmaz defended his doctoral dissertation in December 2016. In his dissertation “Law and Racism: A Race Critical Analysis of Human Rights Protections” he examined the level of protection in international and national non-discrimination law against various forms of racial discrimination and hate speech. In his interdisciplinary and comparative research, he examined the notions of racism, race, color, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and gender in the International Convention against All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the EU Race Directive, and case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Susanne Baer and Christoph Möllers supervised his doctoral dissertation. For his research, Cengiz Barskanmaz received a research fellowship at Columbia Law School, where he worked closely with critical race scholars such as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Luke Harris. As a founding member of Critical Race Theory Europe, he is at the forefront of developing a Critical Race Theory network beyond the U.S. He hosted the first Symposium on Critical Race Theory Europe at the Humboldt University Berlin in 2012. At the Humboldt University Berlin, Cengiz Barskanmaz gave tutorials in constitutional law and held seminars at the Gender Studies Department. 

Cengiz Barskanmaz received his law degree from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). He also obtained a LL.M. at the Humboldt University Berlin, where he attended a two years Program of Turkish Law with certificate as well.

Why Law & Anthropology?

Law deals with every day complex realities, so does anthropology. Yet too often they operate as disconnected disciplines, this is especially the case in mainstream German (legal) academia. Taking the multiple theoretical and practical entanglements and tensions between both disciplines into account, I am specifically interested in conceptual and methodological convergences of both disciplines. In my current project, I use ethnography to examine the legal affects (Rechtsgefühl), legal epistemologies (Rechtswissen), and legal consciousness (Rechtsbewusstsein) of religious and ethnic minorities in Europe, specifically the Yazidis in Germany. I conceive of law as an intergenerational and transnational product of knowledge practices and a mode of consciousness in a world of affects—one that can be observed through dispute resolution. In doing so, I go beyond a state centered, positivistic, and nationalist concept of law and endorse the concept of normative pluralities.

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