C.V. | Project Publications

Research Interests
Criminal law and procedure, international law, courtroom ethnography, cultural diversity.

Research Area(s)
Europe (esp. Bulgaria)


Maria G. Nikolova joined the Department ‘Law & Anthropology’ in 2018 as a doctoral candidate. Before coming to Halle, she practised law in Bulgaria, specializing in representing victims of sexual violence and asylum seekers.

Nikolova’s doctoral project, entitled “The Secret Life of Criminal Law: Child Marriage Prosecution in Europe”, traces the development of the legal concept of child marriage through the archives of the UN and into present-day international and domestic legislation, and examines its adjudication in criminal courts in Europe.

In addition to working on her doctoral project, Nikolova contributes to the Department’s CUREDI project, a database of European case law regarding issues of religious and cultural diversity. Nikolova provides expertise on child marriage prosecutions, extradition, and asylum, analysing established judicial practice and identifying judicial decision-making patterns with respect to customary practices that come before the courts as substantive issues.

In 2019, 2021, and 2022, Nikolova served as a trainer for judges during judicial visits and workshops for judges in the framework of “Cultural Diversity in the Courtroom – Judges in Europe Facing New Challenges”, a collaborative project of the European Judicial Training Network and the Department ‘Law & Anthropology’.

Nikolova is a member of the Organizing Committee of the Minerva LAW Network. The initiative is part of the Max Planck Law Group, and its goal is to bring female legal researchers together with leaders in the field of law to spark innovative and engaging discussions about career development and gender equality.

Why Law & Anthropology?

The law tells you how things should be, and anthropology tells you how things are. This piece of legal anthropology folklore best explains the attraction that anthropology has for some of us who come from a legal background. Encountering diversity in courts sometimes requires opening up to new forms of expertise. The Spanish proverb La cultura cura may hint at the remedy that cultural expertise can offer to contemporary, globalized justice processes. This is what I am hoping to explore through my work in the Department of Law & Anthropology in Halle.

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