Soraya Nour Sckell


My research focuses on socio-legal studies, primarily rooted in the sociology of law and social philosophy, while also drawing from social psychology, social anthropology, social literature, and the science of culture.

I began my academic journey in the second year of my Bachelor’s in Law at São Paulo Univ. (USP), when I became a Teaching Assistant and member of a Research Program in Roman Law (1st place in a competitive call). Later, I obtained my PhD in Public Intern. Law at USP under V. Marotta Rangel, who was then a judge at the Intern. Court for the Law of the Sea. During my PhD, I was Teaching Assistant in Philosophy of Law and International Organizations.

Simultaneously with my PhD, I began a Bachelor’s in Philosophy at USP, where I also joined a Research Program (1st place in a competitive call). Later, I relocated to Munich for a Magistra Artium (Bachelor + Master’s) in Philosophy (major, 50%), with minors in Sociology and Political Science (each 25%). There I taught in the Dept. of Philosophy (the only course taught by a non-doctorate), before moving to Frankfurt to complete my Magister Artium and a PhD in Philosophy under A. Honneth, a globally recognized figure in social philosophy (in cotutelle with Paris Nanterre Univ., Research Centre Sophiapol – Sociology, Philosophy, Political Anthropology).

I received prestigious fellowships, such as from the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (under H. Böhme, a world-renowned scholar in the science of culture) and the French Conseil Régional d’Ile de France. I held a post-doctoral position at the Univ. Paris Nanterre and later became an FCT Principal Investigator at the Philosophy Depart. of Lisbon Univ. I also served as a Principal Investigator at the Centre Marc Bloch (a research centre for social sciences in Berlin), the Collège International de Philosophie (Paris), and in a collective FCT project. I taught Law at the Univ. Lorraine and Lille 2. Now I am Full Professor at NSL and Director of CEDIS.




In 2018, I was honored to receive the Wolfgang-Kaupen Prize from the Sociology of Law Section of the German Sociological Society (DGS – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie, Sektion Rechtssoziologie) for what the jury deemed the best article in this field during the years 2016 and 2017. Previous laureates included names such as Gunther Teubner, a world reference in Sociology of Law.

The title of the awarded article, “Kelsens Rechtstheorie, Psychoanalyse, Soziologie und Kollektivwissenschaft,” published in a journal for science of culture and of the collective (Zeitschrift für Kultur- und Kollektivwissenschaft 2(1), 2016), expresses my project of analyzing the intersection between law, psychoanalysis, sociology, and the science of the collective.

My main contributions involve the conception of critical cosmopolitanism, aimed at rethinking the moral foundations of cosmopolitan theories and situating them within a socio-political framework, overcoming (false) oppositions between “philosophical” and “sociological” approaches. I also sought to reconcile the opposition between “cosmopolitan methodology” (focused on individuals in the global arena) and “state-centered” or “territorial methodology” (focused on local contexts) by integrating both. In order to address issues such as racism, nationalism, xenophobia, and challenges faced by migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, displaced populations, ethnic minorities, and indigenous peoples, I propose five dimensions of cosmopolitanism:

1) The Cosmopolitan Self: I propose a theoretical framework to analyze the social dimension of the construction of the individual worldview, with the ethical horizon of the construction of a cosmopolitan self that could resist discrimination. Here, I draw strongly on the tradition of social philosophy, social psychology, and also social literature. I published on this intersection in “Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie” (Kelsen as Reader of Freud: the Identity Issue) and “Droit et Société” (Le Reconnaissance: le Droit face à l’Identité Personnelle). Together with Lili Pontinta Ca (Guinea-Bissau), we organized a series of conferences, in which we discussed Latin-American and African authors (2022). I also co-organized a series of conferences together with the Department of Literature of the University of Lisbon, which resulted in the book “Cosmoliteratures & Cosmophilosophies”, 2024.

2. Cosmopolitan Democracy: I reconstructed the concept of democracy to envision a local political-legal order as fully democratic only if cosmopolitan in scope, respecting the environment and human rights of all people in the world regardless of their citizenship. I developed this concept through engaging with Kelsen’s theory of democracy and drew consequences for the legal situations of minorities in Europe and indigenous groups in Latin America: “Paradoxos da juridicização, do desenvolvimento sustentável e dos direitos humanos: a questão indígena”, in Os Direitos Humanos por um fio?, 2019,

3. Cosmopolitan Citizenship: I grasp the practice of cross-border associations of individuals, whether institutionalized or not, transcending territorial boundaries and the modern concept of “citizenship” and “representation.” I have (co-)edited several books on this topic, such as: Sckell, ed., Meeting Balibar: A Discussion on Equaliberty and Differences, 2023. See also: .

4. Cosmopolitan Law: I redefine state-centric conceptions of modern international law by recognizing individuals as subjects of international law, explaining legal developments such as the right of individual petition on Human Rights and the individual responsibility in International Criminal Law. Together with Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, who was then a judge at the European Court of Human Rights, we compared the European and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the requirements for building a truly universal concept of human rights (Albuquerque & Sckell, “A recepção da Convenção Europeia dos Direitos do Homem no sistema interamearicano dos direitos humanos”, in Comentários à Convenção Americana sobre Direitos Humanos, 2020)

5. Cosmocentrism: A concept of the relationship between the self and the cosmos, opposed to anthropocentrism. From the perspective of the science of culture, I analyze the natural and mathematical sciences as cultural constructions, particularly in my studies of the cosmology by Kant and Alexander von Humboldt and contemporary debates critical of anthropocentrism (and its consequences for the legal aspects of environmental protection, the rights of natural beings, and future generations). Sckell and Ehrhardt, Le Soi et le Cosmos (ed.), D&H 2015.



1) At NSL, I have been teaching disciplines including Sociology of Law, Legal Psychology, Legal Anthropology, Analysis of Legal Discourse (Bachelor’s), Philosophy of Law, Social and Political Philosophy, Methodology of Legal Research (Master’s), Methodologies of Legal Analysis and Law and Society (PhD). Since 2018, 51 master’s theses and 18 doctoral theses have been completed or are in progress under my supervision (including 5 FCT fellows) at NSL, and 2 master’s theses and 1 doctoral thesis at the Dept. of Philosophy of the Univ. Lisbon. I conduct weekly collective meetings, including during breaks, to familiarize my students with the essential tools of scientific research and the socio-legal approach. Notable among my students is Ph.D. student Paulo Jesus (already Ph.D. in Philosophy, EHESS Paris) and FCT researcher at the CFUL; Suzana Rahde Gerchmann, who, after her Master’s under my supervision, received a full three-year Ph.D. scholarship from City, University of London, where she is now Co-Director of the Centre for Law and Social Change.

2) As Principal Investigator, I received €238,713.37 from the FCT for the project “Cosmopolitanism: justice, democracy, and citizenship without borders” (PTDC/FER-FIL/30686/2017, 01/10/2018-30/09/2022), hosted by CEDIS in collaboration with the CFUL. This project employed a researcher for 4 years, Tamara Caraus, who is now an FCT researcher at the CFUL.

3) At the Centre Marc Bloch (research centre for social sciences, CNRS and Humboldt Univ., Berlin), I led a research group on “Science of Culture” for four years. Several former members of the group now hold academic positions, such as Jean Terrier (Sociology, Univ. Basel).

4) I have examined several doctoral theses, master’s theses, and dissertation proposals in Portugal and abroad (USP, FU Berlin).



I received the “Franco-German Friendship Prize” from the Ambassador of Germany in France in 2009, in recognition of my “exceptional commitment to Franco-German relations.”

The primary reason for this Prize is that I have been co-organizing conferences and co-editing books that bring together scholars from all fields (human, social, natural, and mathematical sciences), based on the network of the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which boasts 61 Nobel laureates, and the Association Humboldt France, where I serve as Vice-President.

I have been a member of scientific boards of prestigious publications, such as the journal “Rue Descartes” and the book collections “Archive,” “Intersection,” and “Intervention” (Presses Universitaires Paris Nanterre), as well as the series PHILIA (Bibliothèque Allemande, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme).

Additionally, I have participated in evaluation committees for the FCT on four occasions for the award of doctoral scholarships in law (including twice for the former FCT post-doctoral scholarship).

I have reviewed articles for journals such as the “Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology” (American Psychological Association – APA) and the “Revue Politique et Sociétés” (Société québécoise de science politique), as well as books for publishers such as the Editions de l’EHESS (Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)



1) From 2013 to 2019, I was elected “Programme Director” (or chair) for Cosmopolitan Justice through a competitive call at the Collège International de Philosophie (Ciph) in Paris, an open educational and research institution co-founded by the philosopher Derrida. I organized several open seminars, debates, “philosophical cafés,” and book launches, often featuring the participation of Etienne Balibar, a world-leading social philosopher. Previous chairholders include Rancière, Agambem, Badiou, Negri, and Guattari.

2) In 2020, I organized an essay and short film competition for all age groups on the theme “Pandemic crisis: who am I in this new world?”. Several schools participated in the competition, and the winning texts and videos are openly accessible.

3) In December 2023, I published a children’s retelling of “The Three Little Pigs.” The classic fable was modified to convey a critique of the injustice of precarious housing and working conditions. The book was performed for children in several venues in Portugal and Germany, including the Luís de Camões Theatre. The free YouTube channel featuring songs from the book, co-written by me, garnered over 100,000 views in the first few days.



1) Sckell. “Bourdieus juridisches Feld: die juridische Dimension der sozialen Emanzipation.” In Buckel; Christensen; Fischer-Lescano (eds.) Neue Theorien des Rechts, 3rd edition. UTB Mohr Siebeck 2020. This book is widely used in courses on legal theory in Germany. In my essay, I demonstrate how Bourdieu’s sociology of law provides a theoretical framework for analyzing: 1) individual praxis (as “habitus”); 2) the interaction between “habitus” and the social world (with its various “fields”); 3) the historical conflictual construction of “reason” and emancipatory rights (in the “field” of law and through the “habitus” of various social actors, including legal scholars, practitioners, and clients).

2) Sckell. “Le citoyen cosmopolite kantian.” In Lefort et al. (eds.), Kant et l’humain: géographie, psychologie, anthropologie. Vrin 2020 (VRIN is a leading French publisher in philosophy). I argue that, for Kant, the legitimacy of legal principles is based not solely on universal and abstract rationality but also on the claims of a cosmopolitan public – citizenship in exercise.

3) Sckell. “Le droit, de la théorie critique à la théorie de la reconnaissance.” In Olivier (ed.), Nouvelles perspectives pour la reconnaissance. Lectures et enquêtes. ENS [École Normale Supérieure] Éditions 2019. I analyze the social dimension of several theories of law based on Hegel.

4) Sckell. “The Cosmos of Alexander von Humboldt from a Cosmopolitan Perspective.” In: König & Schlaudt (ed.). Kosmos. Vom Umgang mit der Welt zwischen Ausdruck und Ordnung. Heidelberg University Publishing 2022. I examine the relationship between cosmopolitanism (from the perspective of social philosophy) and cosmology (from the perspective of the natural sciences).

5) Sckell. “Trans-situational discrimination.” This essay, submitted to the “Journal of Human Rights” (Q1, Law), is currently being reformulated according to the suggestions of a reviewer. I propose an analytical framework for the analysis of discrimination, integrating concepts such as “institutional”, “systemic” and “structural” discrimination from the perspective of sociology and psychology. This framework aims to guide improvements in antidiscrimination law and public and private antidiscrimination policies.

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