Maja Sahadzic is Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law at the Department of Constitutional, Administrative Law and Legal Theory and Researcher at the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Administration of Justice (Utrecht University) (see her profile here), Visiting Professor (University of Antwerp), Senior Research Fellow (Law Institute in B&H), and Affiliated Scholar (Center for Comparative and Transnational Law at CUHK).
Maja grew up during the Yugoslav wars. She witnessed wanton destruction and mass atrocities resulting in unspeakable human suffering and worst of all: the Bosnian genocide. After the conflict, she witnessed defiant but also profoundly divided and traumatized societies that struggled to come to terms with their recent violent past and renegotiate their shared future to build trust in order to reconstruct institutions and develop economically. This is where her academic journey started.
Her early works feature issues related to dealing with the past through reconstructing societal, political, and institutional frameworks in clashed societies. Her research centered on studying comparatively the impact of past atrocities on the institutional and political environment by studying social constructions such as identity differences (language, religion, ethnicity, and culture).
Soon, her research expanded to socio-economic, cultural-ideological, historical, and separatist factors that influence territorial and identity perspectives that often turn societies to multilevel governance. This included horizontal and vertical effects on the structural and fiscal frameworks, the principles of representation, participation, responsiveness, accountability, and quality of governance processes, combined with the principles of mutual respect, common interest, solidarity, adaptiveness, trust, and mutual approval.
Today, Maja’s research still very much relies on her past experiences in attempting to understand complex systems. Her research revolves around multilevel governance, dynamic legitimacy, dynamic stability, asymmetries, constitutional values and principles, fundamental rights, authoritarianism, alternative conflict solutions, constitutionalism under extreme measures, etc. Apart from that, her passion is the methodology of (legal) research. Her research is interdisciplinary and comparative and she often experiments with innovative methodological frameworks that include a fusion of empirical and qualitative approaches.
Her doctoral and post-doctoral research was funded by the FWO Flanders.
Her research allowed her to become a visiting researcher at the University of Toronto, the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, The University of Hong Kong, MGIMO University, and Victoria University of Wellington and a visitor on the study visit at the Center for Democracy Studies Aarau and the Swiss Parliament.
She conducted comparative research on the countries of the Global South such as Chile, China (Hong Kong and Macau), India, Israel and Palestine, Kenya, Lebanon, and Russia, where she was physically present, as well as in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Congo, Comoros, French Polynesia, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, South Sudan, United Arab Emirates, which are included in her (empirical) analyses.
Maja remains an expert in the constitutional system of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans' politics.
She is one of the supervisors in the University of Antwerp project team in a Horizon Europe-funded project Legitimult.
Although Maja’s work experience includes earlier academic positions at universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and the United States of America, she has understood the importance of policy and advisory roles. She has been a consultant or adviser including the diplomatic missions of the USA, Italy, Belgium, the Flemish Parliament, UN, UNDP, USAID, and SDC. She has also worked as a lawyer and journalist.
Maja is a co-chair of the Committee on New Directions in Scholarship of the ICON S, the largest international learned society with members from all around the globe.
She is also a long-standing Team member of the I CONnect blog - Blog of the Web of Science International Journal of Constitutional Law delivering weekly updates in public law.
Maja is also an honorable member of the UNESCO Educational Network for International Cooperation and Peace.
Since 2021, Maja also holds an honorary doctorate from FABC/LUI (Brazil).
Her book “Asymmetry, Multinationalism and Constitutional Law, Managing Legitimacy and Stability in Federalist States” (Routledge) was nominated for the 2020 Book of the Year in Constitutionalism and announced among the 2020 Books of the Year on Federalism by the International Forum on the Future of Constitutionalism. See the book presentation here.
The book she edited with Patricia Popelier “Constitutional Asymmetry in Multinational Federalism, Managing Multinationalism in Multi-tiered Systems” (Springer), according to the publisher’s information, was already in the publisher’s 25% of most downloaded e-books, with 1320 chapter downloads only several months after the publication.
In 2018 she received the Ronald Watts Award for the best article on using the concept of constitutional asymmetries to contribute to the Middle East Peace process.