Mihai Popa studied sociology and social anthropology at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest. In June 2016 he completed his doctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. After conducting his doctoral research within the framework of the research project ‘Local State and Social Security in Rural Hungary, Romania and Serbia’, he undertook post-doctoral research within the framework of the ERC-funded project ‘Directions in Religious Pluralism in Europe: Examining Grassroots Mobilisations in the Shadow of European Court of Human Rights Religious Freedom Jurisprudence’.
His current research on the role of religion in the Romanian public sphere builds and develops on insights gathered through his doctoral fieldwork on social support practices among Old Believers, where religious norms and meanings were central to the everyday provision of support, not only within the religious community but also within kinship networks and state welfare offices. In his currently ongoing research, Mihai Popa documents the relevance of the European Court of Human Rights for present-day dynamics of cooperation and conflict between religious organizations, religious and secularist NGOs, and the Romanian state.
Mihai Popa has also taught seminars in social anthropology at undergraduate level at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. His research interests include the anthropological analysis of state bureaucracy, religion and politics, legal anthropology, social security and family policy, civil society, transnationalism, inequality.