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Research Interests
Anthropology of the state; religion and politics; anthropology of law; welfare and family policy; transnationalism; inequality

Research Area(s)


Mihai Popa studied sociology and social anthropology at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest. In June 2016 he completed his doctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. After conducting his doctoral research within the framework of the research project ‘Local State and Social Security in Rural Hungary, Romania and Serbia’, he undertook post-doctoral research on religious freedom within the framework of the ERC-funded project ‘Directions in Religious Pluralism in Europe: Examining Grassroots Mobilisations in the Shadow of European Court of Human Rights Religious Freedom Jurisprudence’. His current research on the role of religion in the Romanian public sphere builds on and develops insights gathered through his doctoral fieldwork on social support practices among Old Believers, where religious ideas were central to the everyday provision of support not only within the religious community, but also within kinship networks and state welfare offices. In his current research, Popa focuses especially on documenting the dynamics of cooperation and conflict between religious organizations, religious and secularist NGOs, and the Romanian state, and on the relevance of the European Court of Human Rights for these dynamics.

Why Law & Anthropology?

"For me, to combine law and anthropology means combining the analysis of legal texts with the observation of their actual translation into practice. Such an analysis allows us to see to what extent the conceptions contained in the law match the conceptions of the social actors in charge of implementing it. When carried out from the perspective of a specific community, such an analysis allows us to follow the continuity or discontinuity of normative logics at different scales of social organization, and also to grasp the rhythms of change operating at each scale."

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