Writing PhD with Professor Jan Komárek
You can write a PhD with Professor Komárek as part of iCourts Doctoral Programme.
You can expect the next call for applications to open in the autumn of 2021 (the deadline is usually on 1 December, but please check for this year if it is the case!). In the meanwhile, feel free to get in touch with Professor Komárek with inquiries on possible topics and the process of applying.
The following themes are of particular interest:
Ideas and ideologies of European constitutionalism
European constitutionalism, once the dominant narrative of European integration, seems to be in retreat. Projects falling within this research theme will seek to investigate why this is the case, based on a series of related questions: why was the constitutional narrative so influential in a certain period of European integration? Who were the principal actors who promoted the narrative and with which ideas? How did the European constitutional narrative relate to the constitutional (and political) developments at the national level? Should the constitutional narrative be reinvigorated with new ideas and values to reflect the changed nature of the EU – and also the world which surrounds it?
The proposed projects should take a critical approach to the existing theories of European constitutionalism and examine their potential to serve as ideologies – schemes of thought that can hide potentially negative effects European integration can have on the central values of constitutionalism.
Candidates seeking to pursue this research theme should have sufficient knowledge of EU law and be interested in comparative constitutional law and theory and intellectual history.
- IMAGINE Working Paper No. 1: European Constitutional Imaginaries: Utopias, Ideologies and the Other by Jan Komárek (iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 172)
1989, “The End of History” and the post-communist statehood in Europe
1989 is generally perceived and celebrated as the year of liberation from the communist regime and its ideology (people may discuss whether that regime was totalitarian, post-totalitarian of something completely different). It coincided, however, with the rise of an ideology that came to dominate the process of transformation of post-communist Soviet Union’s vassal states into the member states of the EU: neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is understood here as a pervasive suspicion of the state and any form of public authority and at same time an almost universal faith into the free market, which comes to encompass all spheres of life.
The proposed project would be theoretically oriented, having this critical background in mind, and would examine whether, and if so, how the attempts to transform the state and its institutions reflected this dominant ideology.
Candidates seeking to pursue this research theme can come from various backgrounds (law, political science and theory, legal sociology), but must have a strong interest in the period between 1989 and 2004 and its consequences for the present.
- Jan Komárek, Waiting for the existential revolution in Europe, (2014) 12 International Journal of Constitutional Law 190–212
- Jan Komárek, The Struggle for Legal Reform after Communism, LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 10/2014
Rethinking Law, Capitalism and Democracy
Recently, the German sociologist Wolfgang Streeck observed: “I do not believe we can speak meaningfully about the future of democracy, in Europe or elsewhere, without at the same time speaking about the future of capitalism. Put otherwise, we cannot do democratic theory without political economy”. In our view, this cannot be done without rethinking the role of law in democratic politics and in capitalism. First, democratic politics is tied to the form of law as a means of organizing it and articulating its results. Second, capitalism depends on law to enable its functioning. In other words, neither democracy nor capitalism can exist without law and if they need to be rethought for the new condition, so must be law.
The proposed project would set within this wide theme and focus on the various ties between capitalism, democracy and law – either at international/EUropean level, or in the context of national constitutionalism.
Candidates seeking to pursue this research theme can come from various backgrounds (law, political science and theory, political economy), but must have a strong interest the material conditions of law and political system.
- Jan Komárek, Political Economy in the European Constitutional Imaginary – Moving beyond Fiesole, contribution to the online symposium on Poul F. Kjær (ed), The Law of Political Economy: Transformations in the Function of Law (CUP 2020), published at Verfassungsblog on 4 September 2020.
Related research activity:
- iCourts/CEMES: Lecture Series – Rethinking Law, Democracy and Capitalism – co-organised with Niklas Olsen (CEMES) – more information (including the video recordings of particular lectures) are available here (Autumn 2018) and here (Spring 2019);
Judicial legitimacy – normative approaches
We welcome proposals on doctoral dissertations that seek to examine judicial legitimacy from the normative perspective. The project can be theoretically oriented (embedded in constitutional and/or political theory), or seek to understand the issues concerning judicial legitimacy in a particular context: supranational, transnational or international adjudication, as well as more traditional fields (judicial review, constitutional adjudication or judicial law-making in the national context). Proposals that intend to look at the mutual interaction among the different contexts are particularly welcome.
Proposed projects can also focus on a particular aspect of judicial legitimacy – e.g. the problem of judicial accountability versus judicial independence, the values of judicial process, selection of judges or judicial law-making and its relationship to other forms of law-production or the relationship between judicial reasoning and judicial legitimacy.
Candidates seeking to pursue this research theme can come from various backgrounds (law, political science and theory, legal sociology), but must have strong interest in normative questions concerning courts and adjudication.
- Jan Komárek, National constitutional courts in the European constitutional democracy (2014) 12 International Journal of Constitutional Law 525–544 – see also ICON: DEBATE! on this article, (2015) 13 International Journal of Constitutional Law (replies by Marco Dani, Elias Deutscher&Sabine Mair, rejoinder by Jan Komárek)