Current Research


The time of law: Europe’s crisis and the future of post-national constitutionalism

Committee: Professors Seyla Benhabib (chair), Bruce Ackerman, Hélène Landemore, and Paul W Kahn (Yale Law School)


‘The fact that law is deconstructible is not bad news. We may even see in this a stroke of luck for politics, for all historical progress.’

J. Derrida, ‘Force of Law: The “Mystical Foundations of Authority”’

‘And philosophers said that the acceleration of history that had occurred in the twentieth century resulted in an indifference toward time and the demise of historicity in its traditional form, and if another form of historicity was to emerge it was necessary to slow history down, and some of them demanded that the Declaration of Human Rights should include the right to human time.’

P. Ouředník, Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century


My dissertation develops a theory of post-national constitutional law, sovereignty, and solidarity that draws on conceptions of identity and time from across Anglo-American legal theory, Continental political and ethical thought, and European jurisprudence. Taking the legal pluralism of the European Union as a point of departure, my central argument is that the legitimacy and motivating power of post-national legal commitment turn on the place of narrative in law: a sensitivity to how narratives structure constitutional claims and how law succeeds (or fails) to make political agency intelligible over time. The theory clarifies, in particular, the counterintuitive, perhaps paradoxical importance of law’s rhetorical, affiliative, and affective dimensions for cosmopolitan political practice and global justice. This temporal perspective also helps reimagine the normative basis of Europe’s elusive model of ‘shared sovereignty’ in terms of narrative agency among peoples. I use this account to explore the limits and possibilities of contemporary EU institutions and European citizenship law–as well as the continuing relevance of the European project, more broadly–in responding to today’s fragile task of rebuilding a common political will for international solidarity across core and periphery and for the protection of fundamental human rights. 


Table of Contents

1. ‘Introduction: Crisis of spirit in European law’ 
2. ‘Solidarity as a post-national legal principle, or what is it to be a cosmopolitan constitutional patriot?’
3. ‘Cosmopolitan legal narrative: Commitment to a law not merely one’s own’
4. ‘Cosmopolitan constituent power: On narrative agency and the transformative freedom of “shared sovereignty”‘
5. ‘Conclusion: The “play of the world”‘


A more detailed abstract, an expanded table of contents, and the first section of the introductory chapter is available below:


Ongoing Projects

The refugees we are: Solidarity in the European constitutional imagination‘ (working paper)

‘Saving judgments: Discourses of authority in European asylum law’ (working paper)

‘History, system, principle, analogy: Four modes of legitimation in European Union law’ (working paper)

‘Post-national constituent power: An Arendtian reconstruction of mixed sovereignty’ (working paper)

‘Constitutional patriotism as post-national public philosophy: On constitutional culture and time’ (working paper)

‘Narrative constitutionalism: A “commitmentarian” account of constitutional pluralism in Europe’ (in progress)

‘Clusters: On duties, hegemony, and a new politics of international human rights’ (in progress)

‘A constitution as world: Hannah Arendt and Robert Cover on law and social integration’ (in progress)

‘Existentialism and the law: On populism, political being, and the legal romantic’ (in progress)

‘Havel’s Europe: A political vision of responsibility and hope’ (in progress)

‘Self-determination of peoples: International law, narrative, and points of recognition’ (in progress)


(Image: Zdeněk Sýkora, “Lines 72”, 1990, oil on canvas, detail.)