Pavlos Eleftheriadis

Pavlos Eleftheriadis photoPlease tell us a bit about your background.

I grew up in Athens, Greece and went to school and university in Athens.  I came to the United Kingdom to do postgraduate work in Cambridge and stayed on. I spent one sabbatical in New York and three sabbaticals in Athens, but I have lived in the UK pretty much continuously for the past thirty years. I am married to Rachel, we have three children, 14, 13 and 10 years old and we live in Oxford. I have finally settled my immigration status in the UK, as an EU national with 'settled status' so in effect I have indefinite leave to remain, which is a relief.

What led you to a career in academia?

I was drawn to politics and philosophy ever since I discovered books by Rousseau and Marx at my father's library. I was young and immature and I thought that ideas were the most important thing in the world. I found law interesting because it offers an insight into the practice of power and to the nature of a state. I was a good student, which meant I was able to get a first class degree and then do a doctorate in jurisprudence in Cambridge with Nigel Simmonds.  I am always grateful to the (Greek) gods for my good fortune. 

What are your research interests and why have you chosen those particular areas?

I am interested in institutions, constitutions and in transnational law. I first met Ronald Dworkin in 1991 (see photo) and while a lecturer in London I attended regularly his colloquium at UCL. He changed the way I think about the law. I now teach European Union law, constitutional law and jurisprudence. I published a general theory of EU law last year, called 'A Union of Peoples: Europe as a Community of Principle'. I ask if EU law should be understood as a kind of public law or a kind of international law. I opt for the internationalist theory, which to me is the best way to approach cosmopolitan, or transnational law.

What are you working on at the moment?

This month I have been working on an essay on 'Cosmopolitanism', which was commissioned by the Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law. I am also writing a short book which I call 'The Civil Condition'. I am presenting a chapter in Israel next month, which I call 'Legal Judgment as Self-Mastery'.

Do you have any pets?

We have two dogs, Sephy and Maia. They are mother and daughter.  Sephy has been known to bring very good luck to Mansfield finalists, so she always meets them in Trinity Term.  Maia is now only seven months old, but she is learning the tools of the trade and hopefully she will go into work with our finalists next year.

Do you have any other accomplishments besides your academic career?  

Yes, in politics, although you can hardly call that an 'accomplishment'. I helped set up a political party in Greece in 2014-2016 in the midst of the financial crisis. The party was called Potami ('the River') and had a pro-European, progressive and green agenda and was very critical of the old - and broken - political establishment. I served in its national executive for little more than a year (we met by videoconference, which was then a novelty) and I stood as a candidate for the European and the national parliament. We were initially very successful, receiving 6% of the vote in European and national elections. Unfortunately, our leader was not sufficiently critical of the populists nor was he sufficiently focused on progressive policies, so our support dwindled. I stood for the leadership at our party conference in February 2016 as a protest candidate, representing a sizeable opposition within the party. I explained that if we carried on as before, our party would disappear. We took 12 % of the vote. The party carried on as before, lost almost all of its support and was dissolved in 2020. I still participate in Greek public life by writing for the press. It is important that those of us who know something about law and institutions speak up for justice and for future generations. wherever we can make a difference. 

On this page