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Dr. Jeanise Dalli

Dr. Jeanise Bonnici

Dr. Jeanise Bonnici

Dr. Jeanise Dalli
Ph. D. student (Scholarship holder 05/2016-04/2018)
Phone: ++345 55 24170
Projekt: Regulating Migrant Bodily Practices in a Secular and Multicultural European Society: The intersections between Law, Personhood, Gender and Family.

Regulating Migrant Bodily Practices in a Secular and Multicultural European Society: The intersections between Law, Personhood, Gender and Family

This research project seeks to analyse the socio-legal implications of European laws and policies regulating migrant practices in the context of today’s European multicultural society, in times of migration crisis and the concurrent fight against terrorism in Europe. The focus is on legislation which regulates those migrant practices concerning the body and appearance, which directly impinge upon the religious and/or cultural beliefs and values of a number of minorities in Europe and which are directly linked to the notions of personhood, gender, the family and relative rights. The project delves into a selected number of case studies and mainly concentrates on female genital practices (today, commonly known by the term “Female Genital Mutilation”) and circumcision performed on male minors for cultural and/or religious reasons.

The socio-legal implications of such laws and policies are analysed by paying attention to the interplay between three different sets of regulation, namely (i) laws targeting migrant bodily practices, (ii) regulation which seeks to promote cultural diversity, freedom of faith and beliefs, and (iii) other regulation which aims at enhancing personal and physical autonomy, including laws related to reproduction and transgender rights. One of the methods for analysing such legal effects is the examination of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on the application and interpretation of the laws in discussion and of the judgements delivered by the national courts of a number of European states, selected for this purpose of this study.

This project is part of a broader research project entitled, ‘Estrangement as a Learning Process’ and strives to explore what state legislators, policy-makers and judicial authorities may learn from estrangement and from the interrogation of the promulgation, implementation and application of legislation on migrant bodily practices. Ultimately, it is hoped to answer how the notions and the scope of ‘state autonomy’ and ‘physical autonomy’ should be defined and how a fair balance may be struck between the protection of the Fundamental Human Rights of the majority and the minority when these come in conflict; thereby trying to ensure as much as possible that regulations do produce any antithetical effects.

Education and Professional Experience

  • May 2016- Present: PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Laws and scholarship-holder and researcher at ‘Society and Culture in Motion Research Cluster’, Martin Luther University, Halle (Saale), Germany;
  • June 2016- Present: Legal consultant and Board Member at Migrant Women Association Malta;
  • September 2016: Warrant issued by the President of the Republic of Malta to practise the profession of Advocacy in Malta;
  • January- March 2016: Joint expert on Maltese asylum law in an English court case heard before the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, Upper Tribunal in London;
  • October 2013- March 2016: Legal practice mainly in Asylum Law and Family Law within two different law firms in Malta and assisted associate lawyers in civil and criminal litigation matters in the Laws Courts of Malta;
  • December 2015: Doctor of Laws (LL.D), University of Malta. Thesis: “Regulating Female Genital ‘Mutilation’ in Malta”, written under the supervision of Dr David E. Zammit LL.D. Ph.D. (Legal Anthropology, Dunelm) and Dr Maria Pisani BA, MA (Youth & Community Studies, Malta) Ph.D. (Adult Education, Malta); awarded with distinction;
  • December 2013: Post-graduate Diploma of Notary Public, University of Malta;
  • December 2012: Bachelor of Laws with Philosophy Degree (Second Class Honours- Upper Division).

Presentations and other Academic Contributions

  • Talking Lips-Conference as a follow up of the entry into force of the anti-FGM legislation in Malta organised by Malta Girl Guides (April 2016). Presentation Title: “Regulating Female Genital ‘Mutilation’ in Malta”;
  • Rapporteur at Roundtable on the Legal and Social Issues facing Cross-Cultural Couples in Malta, organised by The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society (February 2016);
  • Lecture at the University of Malta to students reading for Masters in Bio-Ethics (November 2015). Lecture title: “Female Genital Mutilation: Analysing Regulation from a bioethical perspective”;
  • Child Law Conference organised by the University of Malta (January 2014). Presentation Title: “The Participation of Children seeking asylum within the Maltese asylum process”;
  • Child Law Conference at the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity organised by the University of Malta and the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity in Malta (February 2014). Presentation Title: “The Participation of Children seeking asylum within the Maltese asylum process”;
  • Legal Rapporteur on Maltese Legislation and sub-editor for GĦSL Online Law Journal (University of Malta, Għaqda Studenti tal-Liġi, 2014).


Regulating Female Genital ‘Mutilation’ in Malta, LL.D. Thesis, University of Malta 2015, published online at the University of Malta library:   

Academic experiences abroad

Honourable Mention Award: Children’s Rights Moot Court Competition, Leiden Law School, The Netherlands, organised by Leiden University and UNICEF in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (November 2014)


Maltese: Native speaker

English: quite proficient: Part-time English Language teacher in two different English Language schools in Malta between 6/2012 and 9/2015

French: Understanding (quite advanced); speaking (Intermediate)

Italian: Understanding (well advanced); speaking (Intermediate)

Research Interests

  • Law and Society;
  • Models of regulation, law enforcement and application;
  • Migration and asylum legislation and related political discourse;
  • Legal anthropology and the application of anthropological expertise in legal practice;
  • Gender law and related studies;
  • Family law and related issues;
  • National Sovereignty and Public Order

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