Legal anthropology, socio-legal studies, human rights, collective, group-based and individual rights, indigenous peoples and prior consultation, ethnic and autochthonous minorities, refugees, migration and cultural rights, intangible cultural heritage, international, EU and Inter-American human rights law, vernacularization and implementation
Latin America (Bolivia and Andes), Europe, Africa to some extent
Jessika Eichler holds a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences (with a focus on political science, law, and international relations from University College Maastricht (NL) and Sciences Po Toulouse (FR). In the following years, she specialized in International Human Rights and received an LLM in International Law from the Faculty of Law in Maastricht (NL) and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights (SE). In her doctoral research, conducted at the Human Rights Centre and Department of Sociology at the University of Essex (UK), Eichler observed the implementation of indigenous peoples’ right to prior consultation in Bolivia. Her findings are informed by research stays in Peru (02/2012-05/2012) and Bolivia (04/2014-04/2015).
Her work is thus informed by extensive empirical research as well as institutional experience in the human rights field. She has gained deep insights into indigenous communities’ perspectives in the Bolivian lowlands and builds on ample policy-relevant work experience with the Institute for Cultural Relations in Germany, the Centre for Judicial Studies and Social Research in Bolivia, the Good Governance and Inclusive Participation Programme at GIZ Peru, the Human Rights Department of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Avocats Sans Frontières France, and exilio e.V., where she worked with refugees and torture victims.
In her current book project with Routledge (based on empirical research funded by the Thyssen Foundation), Eichler engages in legal theoretical debates on indigenous individual vs collective rights. In another project, she addresses intangible cultural heritage debates, with a particular emphasis on vulnerable culture bearers such as ethnic or autochthonous minorities, indigenous peoples, and refugees in migration contexts. Eichler also serves as a consultant to identify violations and to embed human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights in EU external policies and its relations with Latin American states.
Why Law & Anthropology?
Anthropological approaches allow us to open up the law, to disentangle its internal dynamics and to bridge diverse understandings that come into existence both in its very creation (e.g. the law drafting processes) and its implementation in local contexts (so-called vernacularization). The split between top-down/scaling down and bottom-up/scaling up approaches reveals conceptual misunderstandings of what could be (and perhaps should be) viewed as a single, yet pluralistic process The combination of law & anthropology enables us to reconcile these alleged methodological binary oppositions. Legal implementation mechanisms only gain significance when shaped by rights holders and other players who, in turn, offer their own understandings of what the law means in practice. On the other hand, implementation processes themselves build on complex drafting mechanisms involving a panoply of understandings of legal concepts. On a more personal level, the law & anthropology nexus has provided me with a useful tool to combine the normative and ethical foundations of the law with empirical insights and realities on the ground – a mix I had thought would be impossible to achieve in daily research practice and human rights research.