Kalypso Nicolaidis is professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a governing body fellow at St Antony’s College at the European Studies Centre where she teaches the theories and practice international relations, European integration, international political economy, negotiation and game theory and research methods.

At Oxford. She has chaired of the Oxford Working Group on Brexit since 2017 and is founder and co-chair of the Oxford and colonialism working group since 2016. She heads the project on Global PeaceTech and is faculty chair for the South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX) which runs, inter alia, the programmes on the Greek diaspora and the political economy of southeast Europe. She has also chaired the RENEW programme (Rethinking Europe in a Non European World) and the Programme on Global Trade Ethics as well as has been director of the Euroopean Studies Centre and the Center for International Studies.

In academia outside Oxford. She is currently part time faculty at the School of Transnational governance at EUI, Florence. Before moving back to Europe, she taught European affairs and international relations at Harvard University where she was associate professor at the Kennedy School of Government, as well as the founder and chair of the Kokkalis Programme on Southeast Europe. In 2012-2013, she was Emile Noel-Straus Senior Fellow at NYU Law School (2012-2013).  She has also held visiting professorships around Europe, including at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in Paris, at the College of Europe in Bruges as the professorial chair on Visions of Europe and in Sciences-Po, Paris as Vincent Wright chair. Other Positions currently include: Board member, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard (2014-); Editorial and advisory boards: Austrian Journal of Political Science, International Spectator, Palgrave EU series; The International Spectator; Conseil scientifique de l’IMéRA (Marseille); board member, ECIT

She holds a PhD in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, a Master in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, a Master in International Economics and a Diplome Service Public from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. She also studied law and philosophy at the Paris I-Sorbonne. She is of French, Greek and British nationality with German and Spanish origins.


Nicolaidis’s research interests are wide-ranging and interdisciplinary, spanning international relations theory, critical and normative theory, political economy, political philosophy, legal theory and game theory. She has written on various aspects of international relations and global governance as well as internal and external aspects of European integration – including EU external relations including with Mediterranean countries, Southeast Europe and the United States, comparative federalism, the reform of global governance, issues of identity, justice and cooperation in the international system, legitimacy in governance beyond the state, the ethics of global trade, European and global constitutionalism, the Eurozone crisis and governance, Europe’s democratic question, Europe’s place in the world and foreign policy voice, European borders, neighborhood and foreign policy, the single market and the role of trust, the idea of Europe as a model, law and democracy promotion, preventive diplomacy and dispute resolution, memory and interstate conflict, bargaining theory, theaters of recognition, demoicratic theory, solidarity and empathy, sustainable integration, post-colonialism, myth and politics and the import of new technologies on international relations.

A ‘rooted cosmopolitan’, Nicolaidis has tried to build bridges and articulate a philosophy of mutual recognition between countries and between peoples. She confronts the challenge of translating between languages and political cultures by speaking, teaching and publishing across national borders. In her research, she applied this pluralist commitment both to issues of global governance – from trade to R2P – and to the European Union. In her book, European Stories (co-edited with Justine Lacroix), she called time on the search for a single European story and urges instead that we bring together various different European narratives. In her most recent book- Exodus, Reckoning, Sacrifice: Three Meanings of Brexit  (2019) – she takes this agenda one step further by drawing on biblical and Greek archetypal myths to offer a language for a more tolerant and empathetic democratic conversation, thus sowing the seeds of a ‘philosophy of separation’ in the spirit of mutual recognition. The book is also a reflection on the relationship between political philosophy and mythology.

In keeping with this pluralist normative commitment, and originally in the context of the EU’s 2001 constitutional debates, she proposed and developed the concept of ‘demoi-cracy‘ to try to find a way out of stale debates about ‘more‘ or ‘less‘ Europe and to encourage commentators and citizens to view Europe not as an incipient state but as “a union of peoples who govern together but not as one”, embracing Europe’s internal pluralism while continuously pursuing maximal openness between its member states. Most recently she has applied the demoicracy frame to discussions of a justice deficit in the EU.

Her concept of ‘sustainable integration’ (originally inspired by her time in the Gonzales reflection group, 2008-10) also speaks to the EU’s character as a transnational democracy, as ‘both an ethos and a practice for EU action,’ an approach which depends on the need for long-term decision making for the benefit of intergenerational justice. Her notion of sustainability implies that EU governance can be legitimate and effective over time if it is able to counter the short-term bias of democratic regimes with a narrative of its own based on long-term responsibility.

When it comes to Europe’s relations with the rest of the world, Nicolaidis has both developed  and criticised the idea of Europe as a normative power, argued that the EU should adopt a ‘decentering’ agenda in its policy dealings with the wider world, which involves taking a more self-reflexive or ‘post-colonial’ stance – as discussed in her book Echoes of Empire and other publications on Europe’s role in the world and the idea of Europe as a model.


Professor Nicolaïdis has been involved in policy for some time and is a founding member of the Council of ECFR. She has worked with numerous EU institutions, including as a member of the reflection group on the future of Europe chaired by Felipe González (2008-10) mandated by the European Council to submit a report on the future of Europe 2030. Beforehand, she advised Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on European affairs between 1996 and 2004 and chaired the International Group of Expert Advisors on the Convention for the Future of Europe and the Greek 2003 Presidency. She was advisor to the 2004 Dutch presidency of the EU on the theme of ‘Europe: a Beautiful Idea’, a policy-academia dialogue. She also worked with the European Commission on the White Paper on Governance (subsidiarity, global governance), on DG trade and DG communication consultations, as well as a trade and regulation expert for UNCTAD and the OECD. She was also asked to write a report on the European Neighborhood Policy by the European Parliament.

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Interview with the DPIR Inspires Magazine

Member of the global committee:

Member of EU IDEA Advisory Board