Spotlight on...

"Spotlight on..." New Doctoral Researcher Alina Ripplinger

Alina Ripplinger joined the GIGA Doctoral Programme in November 2022. She is currently working on her dissertation titled “Countering the authoritarian turn: Diagonal controls under human rights law as a last resort in Nicaragua” and is part of the DEMINGS project, which deals with Democratic Institutions in the Global South. Get to know Alina in this interview.


  • Alina Ripplinger joined the GIGA Doctoral Programme in November 2022. She holds a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Heidelberg and was previously working as a Project Assistant for “Ius Constitutionale Commune en América Latina” (ICCAL) at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (MPIL) Heidelberg. Alina is currently working on her dissertation titled “Countering the authoritarian turn: Diagonal controls under human rights law as a last resort in Nicaragua” and is part of the DEMINGS project, which deals with Democratic Institutions in the Global South. Get to know Alina in the interview below.

    What is your main motivation to address the topic of your PhD? When having a look e.g., at the map of CIVICUS monitor, you perceive closed or repressed civic spaces all over the world; this snapshot can be embedded in a trend of what was labeled a third wave of autocratization by Lührmann and Lindberg. Does this equal the extinction of engaged civil society? Not necessarily, I would suggest. I want to trace the strategic action of civil society – diagonal controls – and highlight, that such strategies are still present in repressed or even closed contexts and may be made visible when looking from different angles. How would you explain your research topic to your grandmother? My grandmother had to quit school very early and go to work, she was the only girl in the family, and was not allowed to receive any further formation. She also experienced war and insecurity as a child. I would tell her I am wondering if, in our times today, some norms – considered universal enable the most vulnerable ones to stand up for their rights. What are you looking most forward to durrng your PhD studies?

    I arrived recently by the first of November and already had very insightful exchanges with many colleagues. I am looking forward to such informal discussions, sharing personal experiences, and getting great feedback and ideas for my own research. Furthermore, I will hopefully engage in field research and get to know local actors that are on the grounds of resistance. Reading or writing? I often start to read and then immediately turn back to writing, at least writing down notes, or filling up different mind maps I use – I need to visualize things. Paperbook or eBook? Under the condition that it is provided in Open Access. I think there is still great potential for creating equal opportunities in academia in terms of access to research for everyone interested.

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