EuroStorie research seminar: Katia Bianchini 21.5.2021

We are live streaming this event – join us from the link below.

Time: Friday, 21 May 2021 at 1:00pm - 2:00pm EEST
Please join us live via Zoom-stream on the following address: 
Meeting ID: 688 0608 9166
Passcode: 998973

The Role of Expert Witnesses in the Adjudication of Religious and Culture-based Asylum Claims in the United Kingdom: the Case Study of ‘Witchcraft’ Persecution

The title of Dr. Katia Bianchini's presentation is ‘The Role of Expert Witnesses in the Adjudication of Religious and Culture-based Asylum Claims in the United Kingdom: the Case Study of ‘Witchcraft’ Persecution’. In this Seminar, Dr. Bianchini presents one of her articles, which was recently published in the Journal of Refugee Studies with the same title. This article could be accessed through this link:

‘This article examines the role of cultural expertise in asylum judicial decisions in the UK by focusing on witchcraft-based persecution. The case study highlights multiple challenges to decision-making created by religious and cultural diversity, and the ensuing problems of assessing unfamiliar facts and beliefs against the often lack of corroborating evidence. Drawing on legal sources and a small number of anthropological studies, as well as analyses of judicial decisions, the article discusses how the unique characteristics of witchcraft cases, with their unfamiliar paradigms, are illustrative of the need to analyse and understand asylum claims within their broad cultural, historical, economic, and political contexts. The article exposes how cultural expertise assists judges in appreciating specific contexts and curbing their Eurocentric understanding of culture and religion, and shapes the final outcome of cases’.

About the speaker

Dr. Katia Bianchini is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Law and Anthropology, at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, located in Halle, Germany. Her current postdoctoral research addresses the topic of sea migration and the challenges that it poses to refugee protection.

Dr. Bianchini holds a Law Degree from the University of Pavia in Italy, an LL.M. Degree in Comparative Laws from the University of San Diego in California, USA, and a Doctoral Degree in Law from the University of York, in the UK. Her doctoral research provided an empirical and legal analysis of how the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons is implemented in ten EU states. She has also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany. Before engaging in research, she practised immigration and refugee law for ten years in the UK and the USA. Dr. Bianchini has published in the fields of refugee law, statelessness, and human rights. For more information on the work and publications of Dr. Bianchini, please visit her profile on the website of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology: