Emilios Christodoulidis: The Redress of Law (2 February 2023)

This was my opening presentation at a meet-the-author panel discussion on Emilios Christodoulidis’s book The Redress of Law: Globalisation, Constitutionalism and Market Capture (CUP 2021), organised by Massimo Fichera.

Battle of George Square, Glasgow 1919. Photo: Newsquest (Herald & Times).

The Redress of Law (CUP 2022).

The actual object of analysis today is a book entitled The Redress of Law. Distinguished colleagues will be presenting it and commenting on it chapter by chapter. So let me just briefly say for my part that, for me, the book centres on the political necessity to rethink strategies of resistance in the wake of the growth of the power of institutions such as the IMF and the ECB. I leave the more detailed analyses of the book to my esteemed colleagues.

My privilege is, perhaps, not to present a ‘short commentary’ as the official programme implies, but to say something about the author, professor Emilios Christodoulidis. I feel that I’m in a good position to do so.

I have known Emilios as a colleague and as a friend for quite a while. Emilios has graciously reciprocated that collegial friendship by making his way to these northern latitudes more often than most. His contributions have not gone unnoticed: the University of Helsinki has awarded Emilios the Title of Docent in Legal Theory. I believe he is one of the very few non-resident international scholars to hold the Title of Docent.

If you look at Emilios’s accomplishments, you might be tempted to say that he is not someone who enjoys writing monographs. Who could blame him. For many younger scholars, the medium of a monograph has only instrumental value as a way-station when clawing oneself up the promotional ladder. Otherwise it seems like an outdated mode of communicating scholarly work.

Not always. Redress is Emilios’s second proper research monograph even if, in addition to numerous articles and chapters, he has co-authored and co-edited many handbooks, collections and even textbooks in his areas of expertise. On more than one occasion, Emilios has referred to Redress as a labour of love taking more than a decade to complete. This reflects the way in which I see the book. It reworks and repositions many of the themes familiar from Emilios’s previous work, but updated in a way that is relevant for a world in which neoliberalism reigns supreme.

As we approach Redress on a fictive timeline, I can dissect Emilios’s body of work into three main parts.

The first is systems theory. Emilios’s background was at Edinburgh where he completed his PhD. His thesis eventually matured into his first award-winning monograph Law and Reflexive Politics (Springer 1998). The Edinburgh connection already established a kinship because in addition to our institutional ties through the likes of Neil MacCormick, I had also made friends with both Neil and Zenon Bankowski. Upon reading the book at the time, I was, perhaps, put off by the systems theoretical framework. Luhmann simply wasn’t my cup of tea. With hindsight, I’ve had to reassess my first impressions. Emilios’s Luhmann was neither the German epistemologist nor the Parsonsian sociologist. This was critical systems theory, and, moreover, written and presented in an extraordinarily eloquent way. It remains to date one of the very best theoretical books written on Luhmann.

The second part is, perhaps, what we in Finland know Emilios best for, namely constitutional theory. Together with colleagues such as Scott Veitch, Johan Van Der Walt, Hans Lindahl, Neil Walker and Martin Loughlin, Emilios has been one of the best-known UK-based scholars working in the area. In this capacity, he has worked on themes ranging from forgiveness and truth commissions to constituent power and radical democracy. What perhaps sets Emilios apart from his colleagues is his knowledge of and commitment to radical political theory and philosophy through engagements with the work of, among others, Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière. This second ‘constitutional theory’ part was never bound into the covers of a single-author monograph but, instead, took the form of articles, chapters and edited volumes, often co-authored or co-edited.

The third and final part I’d want to call Emilios’s Collège years. There’s an allusion to Foucault here, but this is something different. Not too long ago, Emilios started collaborating with Collège de France legal scholar and professor Alain Supiot. Supiot’s criticism of rule by regulation and globalisation have brought a new depth into Emilios’s work that was, perhaps, only dormant up until now. Have a look at the Youtube lectures where Emilios presents his ideas in absolutely impeccable and faultless French.

To me, Redress is Emilios’s attempt to synthesise these parts (and maybe others) into a whole. I say ‘attempt’ deliberately because Emilios is no Hegelian. He is not looking for an edgeless result. As the three (or more) parts encounter each other, tensions and possibly even contradictions arise. There is enough of a Nietzschean in Emilios to realise the value of these agonistic encounters as they produce new questions to address.

I for one cannot wait to see what comes next.

Leave a Reply