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Research Interests
Human rights; family law; fatherhood; cultural diversity; European Court of Human Rights; litigation studies; rights mobilization; gender studies

Research Area(s)


Alice Margaria is a Senior Research Fellow in the Law and Anthropology Department of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. She holds an LL.M. with distinction in Human Rights from University College London, an LL.M. in Comparative, European and International Laws, and a Ph.D. in Law from the European University Institute (Florence). Before joining the MPI, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Fundamental Rights Laboratory (Turin, Italy). Her project was a comparative investigation of the role of judges in bridging the gap between the social reality and the legal existence of families created via assisted reproductive technologies.

Margaria has a track record of publications that focus on parenthood and assisted reproductive technologies, anonymous birth, and the child’s right to an identity, with a particular emphasis on the ECtHR jurisprudence. Her book The Construction of Fatherhood: The Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights provides the first sustained socio-legal engagement with the role played by the ECtHR in (re)constructing fatherhood in contemporary Europe.

She taught courses on gender and human rights at Koç University (Istanbul), the University of Passau (Germany) and Freie Universität Berlin. In 2020, she was awarded the Chaire Genre by the Institut du Genre (Paris) and, in 2021, a Bavarian Gender Equality Grant to develop a comparative legal study between European and African experiences of fatherhood. She held visiting positions at various institutions, including Emory University, the University of Lund, and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. Margaria has also worked with international and non-governmental organisations, including UNICEF’s Office of Research, OSCE, and Human Rights Law Network

Why Law & Anthropology?

Given my interest in case law, taking an anthropological perspective is essential to gain a full understanding of the complex dynamics and multiple  forces that shape and develop litigation. In this specific domain, anthropology offers a set of methodological tools that enable us to go far beyond the text of a judgment. Indeed, it is only by meeting and talking with the protagonists (e.g., applicants, lawyers, judges, and civil society actors involved) about their individual experiences that extra-judicial explanatory factors can be grasped and the human stories behind litigation can be brought to light. In my own research, the added value of an anthropological approach lies therefore in clarifying relationships between real people and abstract law, thus allowing for a genuine assessment of the benefits and shortcomings of law as an avenue to justice.

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