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Margarida Garcia

  • Alumni
  • Scholar 2004
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Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa

Margarida Garcia is an assistant professor in the Civil Law section of the Faculty of Law and the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa. She has a doctorate in sociology, a master’s in criminology, as well as a degree and post-graduate degree in law. Professor Garcia is a member of the Canada Research Chair in Legal Traditions and Penal Rationality and the International Association of Penal Law (Francophone criminal lawyer committee) and an associate researcher with the “Justice and Law” branch of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Citizenship and Minorities (CIRCEM).

Her intellectual and academic project is to stimulate ideas that will contribute to the transformation and reform of research, teaching and practice of law and to build bridges and create forums for discussion among these three worlds. Her goal is to help define a paradigm centred on the idea of interknowledge, an idea that must be understood at two levels: the crossbreeding of knowledge produced by law and the social sciences (interdisciplinarity), but also interaction among research, teaching and practice of law (intercognitivity). To this end, and with the help of research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Law Foundation of Ontario, her work has harnessed the opinions of legal stakeholders from Canada, Europe and South America (especially judges and Crown prosecutors). She believes that by articulating these different ways of doing and thinking about law, we will be able to produce innovative standards that are suitable for our multicultural, pluralist and diversified world.

Professor Garcia’s research focuses primarily on the relationship between human rights and criminal law, on the concepts of sentencing and punishment, on the process of determining a sentence and the epistemological issues surrounding empirical research in law. Her doctoral thesis on the connection between penal law and human rights won the prize for the best thesis in the Université du Québec à Montréal humanities faculty (2011). With Richard Dubé (University of Ottawa, Canada) and Maira Rocha Machado (Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Brazil), she co-edited the book La rationalité pénale moderne: réflexions théoriques et explorations empiriques (2013). Professor Garcia’s research results have been disseminated in Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, and France through lectures and publications.

Experience as a Trudeau scholar

Having a Trudeau scholarship made a difference in my university career on several levels. First of all, the Trudeau Foundation actually applies and puts into action the values it embraces, and for this reason I was able to benefit from this scholarship despite the fact that I am not yet a Canadian citizen. I mention this because this spirit of openness and the Foundation's concrete interest in specific projects and ideas, no matter who is behind them, allowed me to work in the very best conditions and gave me access to advantages and benefits that would otherwise have been beyond my reach. In this sense, I believe the Trudeau scholarship is unique and exceptional. From another angle, I would like to point out that the Foundation greatly contributed to my understanding of Canadian society and, by extension, to my integration into this culture. Through the Foundation I had enriching and stimulating contact with people from civil society, the business world, the artistic community, political decision-makers, non-governmental organizations, academia and more. As I often told my friends, every Trudeau meeting was like a combined shot of adrenaline, inspiration and humility. The Foundation has the talent of finding exceptional researchers and human beings who create such a strong group synergy that it is impossible to leave this community untouched. The scholarship allowed me to work with determination and zeal, and with respect for Time (that rare commodity): my personal learning time but also the time of my research topic, an emerging phenomenon little studied at present. The annual travel allowance that is part of the Trudeau scholarship was essential for my doctoral research.