Signe Larsen

Early Career Fellow - Bonavero Institute of Human Rights - March 2022 - September 2023

Other affiliations

Magdalen College


Signe Rehling Larsen is a Fellow by Examination in Law at Magdalen College, Oxford, an Early Career Fellow at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for European and Comparative Law. Before coming to Oxford, Signe was a Max Weber Fellow in Law at the European University Institute. Signe was educated in law, politics and philosophy at the LSE, the New School for Social Research, Bard College Berlin and the University of Copenhagen


Signe is currently pursuing a research project on empire and European public law. By incorporating insights from history and social science on colonialism and imperialism, she aims to investigate the legacies of imperialism and colonialism in European public law, including both domestic public law and EU law. In her recent article, ‘European Public Law after Empires’ (2022) 1 European Law Open, 6–35, Signe sets out the main ideas of her new research project.


In her recent monograph, The Constitutional Theory of the Federation and the European Union (OUP 2021), Signe tackles the question of the constitutional nature of the European Union. She argues that the general assumption that the EU is unique, or sui generis, because it is neither a state nor an ordinary international organisation, is based on a flawed understanding of both history and constitutional theory. It is flawed in particular because it assumes the state to be the only constitutional form of political modernity. The book shows in contrast that the EU is a federation, and that the federation is a political form that has both a long history and a constitutional theory in its own right. It is a separate ‘genus’ in the ‘family’ of political associations, which also includes the two other main political forms of modernity: the empire and the state. The book presents the constitutional theory of the federation and show that it allows us to make better sense of the EU and its legal and political problems than existing theories.


Under the title ‘varieties of constitutionalism’ in the European Union, Signe has conducted research into the different forms of constitutionalism that shape the EU Member States and explored how the type of constitutionalism dominant in a Member State shape its relationship to the European Union. In her article ‘Varieties of Constitutionalism in the European Union’ (2021) Modern Law Review, 477–502, Signe sets out the main ideas of this research agenda.