Marc Simon Thomas is a legal anthropologist, trained in Law and in Cultural Anthropology, and has specialized in empirical research on dispute settlement. Currently he is appointed as Associate Professor and his teaching includes the BA courses Sociology of Law and Conflict Resolution. Besides teaching, he is a researcher within the “Montaigne Centre” for Rule of Law and Judicial Administration. Marc has also taught the course Anthropology of Law at the Department Sociology of Law at University of Groningen.

Currently he is involved in a logitudinal legal-anthropological research project on community justice in Rotterdam.

Previously, he was involved in: (1) the ZonMw Covid-19 program (collaboration of the universities of Utrecht, Nijmegen and Leiden): the impact of the corona crisis on the judiciary and the position of vulnerable litigants, (2) WODC financed research on opportunities and threats of neuro-technology in the domain of criminal law, (3) involved in a WODC-financed evaluation on the so-called ZSM-werkwijze (“rapid response procedure”) in Dutch criminal law, (4) in a Methodology Project, which lead to an international seminar on Methodology in Legal Research in February 2017 and a Special Issue of Utrecht Law Review on the same subject in December 2017, and (5) in a WODC-financed research on ADR and the Rule of Law in the Netherlands. In 2018, he (6) published a reserach report on business mediation in the Netherlands. In 2019 he participated (7) in a research on justice of peace in the Netherlands. 

For his PhD dissertation, he has combined his Law and Cultural Anthropology background, and during that time he also developed a preference for qualitative research. His dissertation analyzed how internal conflicts among indigenous inhabitants of the Ecuadorian highlands are settled within the context of formal legal pluralism. His research was based on data collected during three distinct periods of ethnographic fieldwork in Ecuador (eleven months in total) by means of participant observation, interviews and archival research. After successfully defending his dissertation in 2013, he taught at three Dutch universities (Leiden, Utrecht, and Wageningen) before he was appointed at the School of Law in Utrecht.


Sociology of Law, Anthropology of Law, ADR, mediation, legal pluralism, dispute settlement, Methodology