Religious diversity, multiculturalism and integration, non-discrimination, migration, minorities, cultural diversity, Roma, fundamental rights, comparative public law
Accommodation of religious diversity, religious pluralism, implementation of the law in contexts of cultural diversity, Islamophobia
Eugenia Relano Pastor joined the Law and Anthropology Department in November 2017 as a senior researcher to coordinate and develop a database of European laws relating to cultural and religious diversity (abbreviated as CUREDI). The CUREDI database addresses the management (and governance) of cultural and religious diversity by providing a new set of data on case law, legislation and regulations, public documents, and policies across multiple EU Member States and aims to give a coherent framework to the study of trends in legal practices and legal interpretations with respect to the balancing of culture and religion in law. Prior to joining the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Relano Pastor worked for thirteen years as Legal Adviser for the Spanish Ombudsman in the Department of Migration and Equal Treatment. She investigated complaints concerning violations of fundamental rights, monitored public authorities regarding immigration matters by delivering effective resolutions, and carried out regular visits to internment and detention centres for illegal immigrants and border posts. She also engaged in a number of short-term legal training missions at National Human Rights Institutions in Kazakhstan, Armenia, Macedonia, and Turkey.
Relano Pastor holds a Doctorate in Law from the University of Granada. Her doctoral dissertation (2001) is entitled ‘The protection of religious minorities in multicultural societies: Canada, USA, Spain and international human rights law’. She also holds bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and in Sociology. She is an Assistant Professor in Complutense University (Madrid) and was granted tenure in 2006. She has combined her duties at the office of the Spanish Ombudsman with teaching in the Masters Programme Islam in European Societies in the Faculty of Anthropology, Complutense University. She was a Fulbright Fellow in the Salzburg Seminar in 2001 and has been a visiting scholar at several universities, including the University of Ottawa (1998), the University of California at Berkeley (1999), the Institute of Human Rights in Oslo (2000), the Law School at Harvard University (2001), the Institute of Comparative and European Law at the University of Oxford (2002), and the Robbins Collection at the University of California at Berkeley (2004). She was a member of the Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion and Belief, ODIHR-OSCE (2005–2012). Currently she represents Spain in the Legal Working Group (LWG) of the European Group of National Human Rights Institutions (Council of Europe). Her research expertise includes international religious freedom, comparative law, equality and non-discrimination, religious and national minorities, xenophobia, multiculturalism, and immigration.
In July 2020 she was appointed as independent human rights expert by Spain as an Alternate Member of the Management Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). She will serve in that position for a five years period.
Why Law & Anthropology?
Anthropology is based on the recognition of differences, while law is often designed to address as many situations as possible in a homogeneous manner. In actual practice, all the agents involved in the implementation of the law find that justice and equity cannot be achieved without taking into consideration the particular context at stake when applying the law. My doctoral thesis was addressed questions of how legal norms could be transformed to take religious diversity into account and whether dominant societies should endorse granting differential rights or entitlements to a particular group or person. Most of my research has been informed by this theoretical framework, which has also, not coincidentally, been very useful in my daily work at the office of the Spanish Ombudsman. My experience in dealing with legal complaints regarding immigration and non-discrimination on a regular basis leads me to conclude that fairness and equity can only be achieved by taking an anthropological approach when implementing the law. After thirteen years working as a jurist in practice, I find the opportunity of joining the Law & Anthropology Department to be a step forward in my efforts to combine theoretical insights about the need to protect legitimate claims regarding diversity with the real existing data on cultural and religious diversity. The combination of law and anthropology holds the potential to lead us to a new understanding of legal concepts. This is especially important today, as the new democratic constitutional in Europe demands recognition of and respect for religious and cultural diversity.