C.V. | Publications | Project

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 Research Fellow in the 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). Her doctoral thesis (forthcoming as a monograph, CUP 2018) provides a socio-legal analysis of the way fatherhood is understood, constructed, and redefined in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Before joining the MPI, she also 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. She has been a visiting scholar 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 organizations, including UNICEF’s Office of Research, OSCE, and Human Rights Law Network.

Her current research builds on her expertise in family law and human rights but adopts a new methodological perspective. By talking to the protagonists, Margaria’s project aims to shed light on the human stories behind ECtHR litigation pertaining to family life and cultural diversity.

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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