C.V. | Publications | Project

Research Interests
Legal anthropology, law and society, human rights, language rights, constitutional law, male circumcision

Research Area(s)
Europe (esp. Germany and Belgium), Thailand


Jonathan Bernaerts holds BAs in Philosophy and Law from the University of Antwerp (Belgium), and received MA degrees in International Law from the University of Antwerp and Comparative International Law from the University of Toulouse Capitole 1 (France). He was awarded the European Master Degree in Human Rights and Democratization by the European Inter University Centre in Venice (Italy), for which he spent a semester at the University of Vienna (Austria). In his master’s thesis, The Cologne Judgment: A Curiosity or the Start Sign for Condemning Circumcision of Male Children Without Their Consent as a Human Rights Violation?, he analysed the practice of infant male circumcision from both medical and legal angles. Prior to joining the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, he held positions at UNICEF Belgium and the Thailand Institute of Justice. He has also served as a member of the EU Delegation at the Council of Europe.

Bernaerts’s current doctoral research deals with the interaction between public authorities and persons belonging to language minorities, a topic that is particularly relevant in these times of increasing linguistic diversity throughout Europe. The research aims at providing an insider’s perspective – from the point of view of both public authorities and persons belonging to language minorities – on how the legal system is dealing with linguistic diversity in administrative settings.

Why Law & Anthropology?

“I believe that the combination of law and anthropology can contribute a unique perspective to legal discussions by revealing the experiences, needs and concerns of all actors operating within current legal frameworks. It further allows us to focus on how rights are shaped in practice and to examine how juridification is perceived by all actors involved.”

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