ERC IMAGINE: European Constitutional Imaginaries: Utopias, Ideologies and the Other

The project investigates European Constitutional Imaginaries: sets of ideas and beliefs that help to motivate and justify European integration as a constitutional project.

The focuses first on the supranational level – imaginaries produced by constitutional thinkers at the EU level and communicated across borders – between various levels of government, and also across particular Member States. Second, it seeks to understand how the ideas of statehood and constitutionalism responded to the demands of integration and got transformed along the way. We put special emphasis on post-communist member states, but do not leave “Old Europe” (whatever it is) out of the picture. The aim of the project is to integrate various perspectives into a more complete picture of how constitutional law imagines Europe than has been ever achieved







One line of inquiry focuses on the supranational level. IMAGINE’s principal investigator, Jan Komárek works on an intellectual history of EU constitutionalism and how it has been made part of European constitutional imaginary.

Each of the four postdoctoral researchers conduct in-depth studies of one post-communist EU member state. The idea is to go beyond integration clauses of national constitution and the related jurisprudence of their respective constitutional court. We aim at drawing a much richer picture that will show how ideas of sovereign statehood and legitimate constitution have been evolving in response to the turbulent history of these countries. Case studies therefore involve local workshop, where we hope to reach academics and intellectual who, for various reasons, have not participated in the international discourse yet.

The project has a strong empirical basis. Citation network analysis, surveys and other tools have been employed with the help of our data specialist.

One PhD student works on a topic related to the research agenda of IMAGINE.







IMAGINE forthcoming events:

As part of our project, we have been organizing workshops, research seminars and conferences:

  • 6-7 October 2022, Copenhagen: Constitutional imaginaries of Europe – international conference
  • 16 May 2022, Copenhagen/Online: IMAGINE Seminar, Turkuler Isiksel (Columbia University), ‘Voting in Authoritarian Elections’
  • 24-25 March 2022, Copenhagen: IMAGINing Together – joint workshop with Eurostorie
  • 8 March 2022, Copenhagen/Online: IMAGINE Seminar, Marina Bán & Jennifer Orlando-Salling, Identity, Postcoloniality and the Constitutional Self: Lessons from Hungary


IMAGINE past events:

As part of our project, we have been organizing workshops, research seminars and conferences:

  • 10 December 2021, Warsaw, Staszic Palace/Zoom, IMAGINE Polish Workshop: How Polish Constitutionalism Imagines Itself in Europe?
  • 9 December 2021, Tartu/Zoom, IMAGINE Estonian Workshop: Searching for the Estonian European Constitutional Imaginaries – Sovereignty in Context  
  • 9 December 2021, 13:00-14:30 IMAGINE speakers series/iCourts seminar, Damian Chalmers on From a Right to a Private Life to a European Right to a Meaningful Life
  • 18 November 2021, Centre of Social Sciences Institute for Legal Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences/Zoom, IMAGINE Hungarian Workshop: History, Constitution and Identity in Hungary
  • 21 - 25 June 2021, Third IMAGINE Workshop, Freedom and power of European constitutional scholarship
  • 1 June 2021, IMAGINE team meeting with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law directed by Armin von Bogdandy
  • 16 March 2021, Imagine reading group meeting: Marina Bán and Michał Krajewski discussed the book Constitutionalism under Stress: Essays in Honour of Wojciech Sadurski
  • 12 March 2021, Petr Agha presented The Forgotten Voices of the Velvet Revolution(s) at Dissenting Voices seminar, Jan Komárek commented
  • 9 March 2021, IMAGINE team meets colleagues from EuroStorie: the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives, based at the University of Helsinki (funded by the Academy of Finland) led by Kaius Tuori
  • 3 March 2021, Mitchell A. Orenstein and Bojan Bugaric on Work, family, Fatherland: the political economy of populism in central and Eastern Europe  
  • 11 February 2021, Imagine seminar day: Juan A. Mayoral provided participants with insight into the design and implementation of interviews
  • 8 February 2021, IMAGINE team meeting with Michał Paździora and Michał Stambulski, who are about to start a fascinating project on Legal Epistemic Authority in Poland Development and Dynamics 1982-2020 funded by the Polish National Science Centre
  • 3 December 2020, IMAGINE reading group meeting: Michal Krajewski presented to us The End of the Liberal Mind: Poland’s New Politics and Petr Agha The Light that Failed A Reckoning
  • 24 November 2020, The Second IMAGINE Workshop: Constitutional Imaginaries of Europe in Comparative History
  • 5 November 2020, IMAGINE reading group meeting: Jenny Orlando Skaerbaek on Natasha Wheatley’s Law, Time, and Sovereignty in Central Europe: Imperial Constitutions, Historical Rights, and the Afterlives of Empire
  • 23 September 2020, IMAGINE reading group meeting: Marina Ban on A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe
  • 12 March 2020, IMAGINE reading group: we discussed Peter Gordon’s essay ‘What is Intellectual History?’ and Philipp Ther’s book Europe since 1989: A History
  • 22 May 2019, iCourts: The First IMAGINE Workshop
  • Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019, iCourts/CEMES: Lecture Series – Rethinking Law, Democracy and Capitalism– co-organised with Niklas Olsen (CEMES)
  • 1-2 November 2018, Faculty of Law, UCPH: The project unofficially kicked-off with the international conference EU Constitutional Imagination: Between Ideology and Utopia (co-funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and the Dreyers Fund)
  • 8 May 2018, iCourts: The Transformation of Europe: Twenty-Five Years On – Book launch and critical assessment

Related events:

We are also active in presenting the project and its outputs at various academic fora:

  • 9 December 2021, Jan Komárek presented paper From legitimacy to ideology: towards ideology critique of European constitutionalism at the webinar The Legitimacy of European Constitutional Orders: A Comparative Inquiry organised jointly by Marco Dani, Marco Goldoni, Agustín J. Menéndez
  • 2-3 December 2021, Annual Danish European Association- European Community Studies Association Conference The European Union re-founded? Rethinking EU governance in times of permanent crisis, The IMAGINE team presented a panel entitled Exploring European constitutional imaginary’s OTHER
  • 29 September 2021, Birgit Aasa presented a paper Mutual Trust and the Rule of Law at Lund University/Zoom conference The Rule of Law Crisis in Europe – Historical and Procedural Aspects
  • 7 July 2021, Jan Komárek presents his forthcoming paper Freedom and Power of European Constitutional Scholarship to colleagues at the Center for Global Constitutionalism, part of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • 6 July 2021, IMAGINE Panel and a working group at ICON-S Mundo Conference
  • 7 June 2021, Birgit Aasa presents a paper Mutual Trust and the Rule of Law and Michał Krajewski presents a paper The Many Faces of the Rule of Law: The Assets of EU Extra-Judicial Review Mechanisms at the EUI conference The Rule of Law in the EU: Consensus and Discontent, EUI/Zoom
  • 24 May 2021, Due to illness Jan Komárek only delivered (in writing) his paper From legitimacy to ideology: towards ideology critique of European constitutionalism at the conference The legitimacy of European constitutional orders: Questioning the revolutionary, establishment and elite pathways, held on 24-28 May 2021 at the Faculty of Law, University of Trento (online via Zoom)
  • 12 May 2021, Jan Komárek presented IMAGINE to the Gothenburg University EU Law Discussion Group
  • 20 January 2021, Jan Komárek presented our project to the working group on constitutional law at the Faculty of Law, Masaryk University in Brno (online)
  • 14 December 2021, The Academic Forum of the New University: Revitalization of EU Constitutionalism, Jan Komárek discussed (with Gráinne de Búrca and Neil Walker) Matej Avbelj’s IMAGINE Working Paper No. 9
  • 1 December 2020, Online symposium organized by the Studio Europa Maastricht, Jan Komárek gave a paper on Speaking of and for the Other: (Post-)communist Europe in European constitutional imaginaries and Petr Agha on The forgotten voices of the Velvet Revolution(s)
  • 27 November 2020, Jan Komárek shared his experience with the process of working on the application and applying for the ERC Starting Grant with researchers from the Czech Academy of Sciences
  • 11 November 2020, Jan Komárek on Freedom and power of the constitutional professoriat: professors as politicians, businessmen and public intellectuals
  • 16 September 2020, Petr Agha and Jan Komárek presented at the workshop The Czech Century in law and politics
  • 1 June 2020, Jan Komárek presented (online) paper Why read The Transformation of Europe today? On Transformation’s constitutional imaginary
  • 20 May 2020, WZB Berlin, Center for Global Constitutionalism, Jan Komárek presented paper Why read The Transformation of Europe today? On Transformation’s constitutional imaginary
  • 25 November 2020 Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Jan Komárek presented paper Why read The Transformation of Europe today? On Transformation’s ideology and utopia
  • 14 and 15 November 2019, The Swedish Network for European Legal Studies, Stockholm, conference 30 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Rule of Law in the European Union, 14-15 November, Jan Komárek presented paper The rule of law and liberal legalism in (the post-communist) Europe
  • 3 and 4 October 2019, Danish European Community Studies Annual Conference, Aarhus University, Jan Komárek presented paper European constitutionalism: Towards an ‘ideology critique’ and participated in the round table discussion “Crisis Politics and the Judiciary”, with Christian Joerges, Hagen Schulz-Forberg, Karen Alter and Graham Butler
  • 19-20 September 2019, IEARN workshop, Giessen – Transformative Constitutionalism in India and the EU, Jan Komárek contributed with a discussion note
  • 25 June 2019, European Law School, Berlin, Jan Komárek and Alexandra Kemmerer (Max-Planck-Institut) “Futures Past of European Constitutional Imaginaries in the 1950s and 1990s: A Dialogical Exploration”
  • 12-15 June 2019, Mountain Seminar No. 3
  • 3-4 June 2019, fEUtures conference, Roskilde University, Trajectories and Imaginaries of European integration
  • 26 April 2019, NYU School of Law, Jean Monnet Center – Jan Komárek’s presentation of IMAGINE to Emile Noël Fellows
  • 25 April 2019, Yale Law School, The Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project and the European Law Working Group – Jan Komárek’s presentation of a working paper




One volume is forthcoming in the OUP, another one will be produced based on the conference that will take place in Copenhagen in October 2022. Finally, Jan Komárek will write a monograph based on the findings from the project.

  • Jan Komárek (ed): European Constitutional Imaginaries: Between ideology and utopia
    We are extremely pleased to announce that the OUP accepted our first book resulting from the conference and a series of workshops for publication! The book should be published (open access) in 2022. You can find the draft table of contents here (pdf) and the introduction here (pdf).


Working papers:

As part of the iCourts Working Papers series, we publish our work in progress as IMAGINE working papers:


“IMAGINE loud” refers to a place, where we discuss ideas related to our project with other researchers: either through interviews, or shorter blog posts and other online content. 








Name Title Image
Orlando-Salling, Jennifer PhD Fellow Billede af Orlando-Salling, Jennifer


The IMAGINE action has received a five year funding from the European Research Council

IMAGINE: European Constitutional Imaginaries: Utopias, Ideologies and the Other
(Starting Grant No 803163)

Period: February 2019 - January 2024


Jan KomarekPI Professor
Jan Komárek

South Campus,
Building: 6B.4.51
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Phone: +45 35 33 43 54