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Research Interests
Law and society, law and culture, human rights, body regulation, migration and asylum law

Research Area(s)
Europe with a focus on Malta and the United Kingdom


Jeanise Dalli is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Law and Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. She holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree, a Diploma in Notarial Studies, and a Doctorate in Law (LLD), all from the University of Malta. While still a law student, Dalli worked with two different law firms based in Malta, practising civil and criminal litigation as well as refugee law. In 2016, she was admitted to the bar in Malta. She also lectures in and co-ordinates two courses, 'Refugee Law and Policy Issues' and 'Refugee Law and Society', in the Faculty of Laws at the University of Malta.

Before joining the Max Planck Institute, Dalli's LLD research project involved an analysis of the specific legal provision prohibiting 'female genital mutilation', which was introduced into the Criminal Code of Malta in 2014. The study highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the Maltese criminal regulatory model for addressing so-called 'cultural' female genital modifications in the light of criminal law models in other jurisdictions in Europe and outside of Europe, namely in Italy, the UK, France, Canada, and the US. Her current doctoral research project, provisionally titled Regulating Genital Modifications in Malta and the UK: Understanding the Interplay between Law and Culture within Culturally Diverse Societies, builds upon findings from her former study and focuses on the regulation of controversial types of genital modification performed on or undergone by men and women in Malta and the UK.

Why Law and Anthropology?

I believe that the combination of law and anthropology provides an alternative to the understanding of law presented and promoted in legal theory and discourse. An anthropological perspective on law challenges Western notions of what constitutes law and the legal domain, extending the concept of law beyond positive law to incorporate different views of law, such as law as a process, as constitutive of culture and social relations, and as constituted by culture and social relations. This approach also promotes the contextual analysis of law, which I consider crucial to a better understanding of the power and role of law in regulating the social, economic, and political life of a society. In this sense, I see anthropology as complementary to law and as offering a special contribution to the understanding of both legal and social phenomena.

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