C.V. | Publications | Project

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

Research Area(s)
Europe (especially Germany and Belgium)


Jonathan Bernaerts holds BAs in Philosophy and Law from the University of Antwerp (Belgium), and obtained 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. He held positions at UNICEF Belgium, the Thailand Institute of Justice and also served as a member of the EU Delegation at the Council of Europe.

Bernaerts’s doctoral research, Linguistic diversity and administrative interactions in Belgium and Germany: a legal and empirical analysis, conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, dealt with the interaction between public authorities and non-majoritarian language speakers, a topic that is particularly relevant in these times of increasing linguistic diversity throughout Europe. The research provided an insider’s perspective – from the point of view of both non-majoritarian language speakers and public authorities – on how the legal system is dealing with linguistic diversity in administrative settings. He obtained a Joint PhD from the University of Antwerp and the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg for this research in 2020.

Currently, Bernaerts is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leuven Centre for Public Law (KU Leuven) and a researcher partner of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Department ‘Law and Anthropology’. He is also a member of the Curedi coordination team.

Why Law and 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.

Go to Editor View