Three meanings of Brexit

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Max Weber Lecture by Kalypso Nicolaides (University of Oxford)

26 October 2016, 17:00-19:00, Badia – Refettorio

Chair: Alex Katsaitis (Schuman Centre)

Presenter: Brigid Laffan (Director of the Schuman Centre)



I will discuss three meanings of brexit – starting with a definition of “meaning” as narrative, as opposed to explanation, rationalisation or implication.

Meanings matter, I argue, for which narrative dominates the next two years will determine not only the nature of the brexit deal but also the nature of the EU itself. The three meanings are labelled exceptionalism (“Brexit means that the UK should leave”) a narrative shared by hard-Brexiters and Euro-federalists; scepticism (“Brexit mean that you all should leave”), a narrative shared by Euro-sceptics around Europe and left-wing Brexiters in the UK; and pluralism (“Brexit means that you can leave”).

The lecture will explore the ways in which this last narrative can both draw on the other two and help transcend them. It will draw on the four disciplines of the EUI and the Max Weber programme, namely history, politics, law and economics.

About the speaker:

Kalypso Nicolaïdis is Professor of International Relations and director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Oxford. She was previously associate professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

She is chair of Southeastern European Studies at Oxford and Council member of the European Council of Foreign Relations. In 2012-2013, she was Emile Noel-Straus Senior Fellow at NYU Law School (2012-2013). In 2008-2010, she was a member of the Gonzales reflection group on the future of Europe 2030 set up by the European Council.

She also served as advisor on European affairs to George Papandreou in the 90s and early 2000s, the Dutch government in 2004, the UK government, the European Parliament, the European Commission, OECD and UNCTAD.

She has published widely on international relations, global governance, trade ethics, law and democracy promotion, as well as the internal and external aspects of European integration in numerous journals including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of European Public Policy and International Organisation. Her last books are Echoes of Empire: Memory, Identity and Colonial Legacies (ed w/ Sebe and Maas, IB Tauris), Normative Power Europe Revisited (ed w/ Whitman, Journal Conflict and Cooperation) and European Stories: Intellectual Debates on Europe in National Context (ed w/ Lacroix, OUP, 2010).

She is a graduate of Sciences-Po (1982) and received her PhD from Harvard in 1993. More information –including publications- can be found on her website.