Islamic and Muslim law; comparative law; law and religion; family law; legal anthropology; sociology of law; ethics, law and biotechnology; immigration and asylum law; private international law
Research Area(s) (=geographical area(s))
Europe, particularly Italy and the United Kingdom; Muslim-majority countries and countries with a significant Muslim presence in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia
Since January 2018, Federica Sona has been a Senior Research Fellow in the Law & Anthropology Department at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale. Before joining the MPI, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Laboratory of Fundamental Rights (LDF), a research centre directed by Vladimiro Zagrebelsky, the former Italian judge at the European Court of Human Rights. Prior to that, she was a visiting researcher in the Law Department at the University of Turin and a Teaching Fellow in the Law Faculty of the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London.
Sona’s academic qualifications include a Laurea in Law, a post-graduate Specialization Course in Intercultural Communication and Mediation, a Master of Arts in International and Comparative Legal Studies, an International Ph.D. in Law and Society, and a Ph.D. in Law.
Her main areas of expertise include official and unofficial Islamic and Muslim laws; national and international family laws; comparison and interactions between transnational, international and national legal systems (in Western and Muslim-majority countries); Western Islām-s and European Muslim communities; cultural understanding and customary implementation of religious provisions; sharīʿah-compliant socio-legal cultures and normative orders. Her research findings have been disseminated also through lectures delivered in several universities in Europe, North Africa, North America, and South Asia.
Sona’s current research focuses on European Muslim communities interacting with different socio-legal orders, including common law and civil law systems, particularly in the UK and Italy. Her work pays specific attention to family-related issues encompassing both vertical and horizontal kinship connections such as those based on bonds created by descent or marriage.
Sona recently completed an LDF–MPI jointly funded interdisciplinary study exploring the remedies to involuntary childlessness pursued by Muslim couples who want to have children. Adopting a comparative legal pluralist perspective and relying upon social science research methods, she is now also investigating the socio-legal agency of Muslims who have settled in Europe and the challenges faced by domestic administrative and judicial bodies in coping with foreign, religious, and customary marriages (and their dissolutions).
Sona is currently involved as expert, lecturer and convenor in the European Judicial Training Network and has lectured at the University of London, the University of Turin, the University of Oriental Piedmont, the University of Siena, the University of Lucerne, and the Center of Transnational Law Studies (Georgetown University). She conducted research commissioned by the National Council for Research in Italy and the Ministry of Justice in the UK. In 2009, Sona was appointed the researcher responsible for the Greater London area for the enquiry ‘A study of Sharia Councils in Relation to Family Law Matters in England and Wales’.
For the last fifteen years, Sona has also served as an expert and advocate providing legal assistance and advice (predominantly pro-bono and shadow) in proceedings involving Muslim parties and/or Muslim-majority countries’ nationals in Italy and in Great Britain.