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Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät Prof. Dr. iur. Alice Margaria

Projects / Collaborations

Who is the Court for? Bringing the Human (back) into Human Rights Research

Principal Investigator for the Project "Who is the Court for? Bringing the Human (back) into Human Rights Research"

Co-PI: Dr. Cathérine Van de Graaf, Academy of European Human Rights Protection, University of Cologne

Period: September 2023 – August 2025

Project abstract in English (PDF, 46 KB)

Abstract (ENG)

Despite being considered the most successful system of human rights protection worldwide, the European Court of Human Rights is often criticised for shying away from its responsibilities when faced with complex questions about the accommodation of religious and cultural diversity in its member states. Critics say the Court too quickly and easily resorts to the doctrine of the margin of appreciation, which is perceived as compromising the counter- majoritarian aspirations of human rights law, to the detriment of minorities. Doing so, moreover, runs counter to the Court’s stated duty to provide individual relief to applicants, and to its presumed interest in the meanings attached to human rights by their intended beneficiaries. By giving voice to the ‘real people’ involved in litigation, the envisaged analysis will bring members of religious and cultural minorities back into the frame and ask them if/how justice has been done. In so doing, this book will ascertain what the Court is and does and how that converges, diverges and interweaves with what the Court ought to be and do vis-à-vis diversity claims brought by these minorities. This empirical investigation will be carried out by combining doctrinal analysis of documents with the in-depth reconstruction of ‘information-rich cases’ from their origin to the present-day, drawing on the ethnographic extended case method. Through this innovative methodology, the project will not only expose and disentangle the two-way relationship between the Court’s approach to diversity, on the one hand, and diversity as experienced on the ground, on the other hand, but also identify the potential and possibilities for the Court to be(come) an institution for delivering genuine justice to religious and cultural minorities.

What is a Family? Transdisciplinary Conversations

With Prof. Claire Fenton-Glynn, Monash University

This project aims to encourage trans- and interdisciplinary conversations on what is a family with the ultimate objective to clarify the relationships between legal conceptions of ‘family’ and family relationships on the ground. The project brings together ideas about families derived from a range of disciplines, including law, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics and history, and explores whether extra-legal understandings of ‘family’ inspire, are taken into consideration and integrated in legal regulation, if at all. Following two workshops in March/April 2023, an edited collection will be published by Bristol University Press in 2025 and include chapters by:

  • Prof. Martha Albertson Fineman, Emory University (USA)
  • Prof. Katherine R. Allen, Virginia Tech (emerita) (USA)
  • Dr. Alan Brown, University of Glasgow (UK)
  • Prof. Claire Fenton-Glynn, University of Cambridge (UK)
  • Prof. Marie-Claire Foblets, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Germany)
  • Prof. Shoshana Grossbard, San Diego State University (emerita) (USA)
  • Prof. Jonathan Herring, University of Oxford (UK)
  • Dr. Claire Jenkins, University of Cambridge (UK)
  • Prof. Jens M Scherpe, University of Aalborg (Denmark)
  • Prof. Mary Jo Maynes, University of Minnesota (USA)
  • Prof. Letizia Mencarini, Bocconi University (Italy)
  • Prof. Paulinus I Odozor and Gabriella Berman El-Hallal, University of Notre Dame (USA)
  • Prof. Nausica Palazzo, NOVA University (Portugal)
  • Dr. Noam Peleg, University of New South Wales (Australia)


Trans Families between Law and Reality: A Survey on Birth Registration

The purpose of this survey is to better understand how trans parents are currently being registered on their children’s birth certificate, with specific focus on the UK. By giving voice to families with one or more trans parent, the survey traces existing registration practices, patterns and potential instances of discrimination. Additionally, it seeks to illuminate how the current birth registration system affects the private and family life of these families and the potential reproductive wishes and plans of trans people. As the first survey of its kind, TransReg sheds light on how non-conforming gender identities are dealt with by the legal system, aiming to contribute to efforts for positive social change. This project is carried out with support from Equality for Trans Families, founded by Freddy McConnell.

Research Team: Prof. Dr. Alice Margaria; Denise Venturi (Doctoral Researcher, KU Leuven)


*In this survey, 'trans' is used inclusively, to cover all transgender, transsexual and nonbinary identities.'


Judicial study visit "Cultural Diversity in the Courtroom"

Convenor of the EJTN-MPI judicial study visit "Cultural Diversity in the Courtroom" (select the option "Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology")

Video on the EJTN Judicial Study Visit 2023 at the Department of 'Law & Anthropology' can be found here.





Jean Monnet Module on European Union Family Law