Photo of Zoran Oklopcic

Zoran Oklopcic

Associate Professor

Degrees:LL.B. (Zagreb), Exec. M.A. (Amsterdam), LL.M. (Central European), S.J.D. (Toronto)
Office:D587 LA (Loeb Building)

On leave for the 2023/2024 academic year

Until recently, my research focused on the vocabulary of peoplehood in the context of state-formation at the intersection of three disciplines: constitutional theory, normative political theory, and international law. As part of that project, I published on the metamorphosis of self-determination in the post-Cold War context; the concept of territorial rights in the context of theories of secession; and, the inadequacy of the concept of pouvoir constituant as means to justify the creation of new constitutional orders in the (semi-)periphery. The culmination of that project has been the monograph Beyond the People: Social Imaginary and Constituent Imagination published in the Oxford Constitutional Theory series in February 2018.

I am a member of the inaugural Editorial Board of the Review of Constitutionalism and Constitutional Change. In the past, I was MacCormick Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh School of Law (2013), Junior Faculty at Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy (2013 – 2015), Visiting Researcher at the Department of Political Sciences University of Pompeu Fabra (2014), Hauser Global Research Fellow at the NYU School of Law (2014), and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Victoria Department of Political Science (2015). At Carleton, I continue to teach critically-oriented introductory and advanced courses on modern constitutionalism and public international law.

I am currently working on two longer-term projects. The first is a monograph (co-authored with Karlo Basta) on the theoretical and practical challenges that the constitutional stalemate in Spain and Catalonia poses to comparative politics, normative theory, and comparative constitutionalism. The second, also a monograph, focuses on the hierarchy and the system—two vital, but curiously elements in Western social imaginary. Intended to offer a more in-depth exploration of some of the themes from Beyond the People, this project aims to confront the prevailing understandings of these concepts in legal theory and constitutional sociology with the perspectives of social anthropology, cultural pragmatics and complexity theory. As befotre, I continue to be interested in the questions of territorial rights, constitutional pluralism, and Global South constitutionalism.

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Z. Oklopcic, Beyond the People: Social Imaginary and Constituent Imagination (Oxford University Press 2018)

Advance praise for Beyond the People:

“… an erudite and fascinating journey through the powerful, complex, and often contradictory social imaginaries … of interest to anyone working with the concepts of democracy, the people, self-determination, constituent power, and the state.” – James Tully (Emeritus Professor, University of Victoria)

“… provocative, original, and written in the spirit of drama … a forceful polemic against conventional theorizing about constituent power … succeeds in constructing a radically different stage for a ‘People’ we have not yet known.” – Günter Frankenberg, (Professor of Law, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main)

“… an ambitious, brilliant, and difficult book [which] shows us what the exercise of imagination looks like. Full of metaphors, figures, and images, [it] invites us not to fix again the meaning of notions such as nation, people, or self-determination, but instead to view what happens in such fixing …” – Martti Koskenniemi (University of Helsinki)

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

Z. Oklopcic, “The South of Western Constitutionalism: A Map Ahead of a Journey” (2016) 37: 11 Third World Quarterly 2080.

Z. Oklopcic, “The Idea of Early-Conflict Constitution Making: The crisis in Ukraine Beyond Territorial Rights and the Paradox of Constitutionalism” (2015) German Law Journal 658.

Z. Oklopcic, “The anxieties of consent: Theorizing secession between constitutionalism and self-determination” (2015) 22:2 International Journal of Group and Minority Rights 259.

Z. Oklopcic, “Što je čije: Ili, teritorijalna prava na ‘ovim prostorima’” [“Whose is what? Or, territorial rights ‘in these lands’”] (2015) 52:1 Politička misao: Croatian Journal of political science 111.

Z. Oklopcic, “Provincialising Constitutional Pluralism” (2014) 5:3 Transnational Legal Theory 331

Z. Oklopcic, “Three Arenas of Struggle: A Contextual Approach to the Constituent Power of ‘the People’” (2014) 3:2 Global Constitutionalism 200.

Z. Oklopcic, “Beyond Empty, Conservative and Ethereal: Pluralist Self-Determination and the Peripheral Political Imaginary”, (2013) 26:3 Leiden Journal of International Law 509.

Z. Oklopcic, “Constitutional (Re)Vision: Sovereign Peoples, New Constituent Powers, and the Formation of Constitutional Orders in the Balkans”, (2012) 19:1 Constellations 81-101.

Z. Oklopcic, “Independence Referendums in Democratic Theory in Quebec and Montenegro”, (2012) 18:1 Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 22.

Z. Oklopcic, “The Territorial Challenge: From Constitutional Patriotism to Unencumbered Agonism in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, (2012) 13:1 German Law Journal 23.

Z. Oklopcic, “The Migrating Spirit of the Secession Reference in Southeastern Europe”, (2011) 24:2 Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 347-376.

Chapters in peer-reviewed book volumes

Z. Oklopcic, “(Not) fast and (not) furious? (Un)constitutional responsiveness and the boundaries of constituent imagination” in Paul Blokker (ed), Constitutional Acceleration within the European Union and Beyond (Routledge 2018).

Z. Oklopcic, “Constitutional Theory and Cognitive Estrangement: Beyond Revolutions, Amendments and Constitutional Moments” in Richard Albert, Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou (eds), The Foundations and Traditions of Constitutional Amendment (Hart 2017).

Z. Oklopcic, “Redeeming the triple struggle? The Yugoslav accounts of Non-Alignment“ in Vasuki Nesiah, Michael Fakhri, and Luis Eslava, (eds), Bandung at Sixty: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures (Cambridge University Press 2018).

Z. Oklopcic, “Which pluralism? External self-determination at the intersection of national, social and geopolitical emancipation” in Stephen Tierney (ed.) Nationalism and Globalisation (Hart Publishing, 2015).

Z. Oklopcic, “A Farewell to Rhetorical Arms?: Unravelling the Self-Determination of Peoples” in Andrée Boisselle, Glen Coulthard, Avigail Eisenberg, and Jeremy Webber, (eds), Recognition and Self-Determination (University of British Columbia Press 2015).

Z. Oklopcic, “Constitutional Politics of Secession: Travelling from Quebec to Montenegro (and Back?)” in A. Pavkovic and P. Radan, (eds), Ashgate Research Companion on Secession (Ashgate 2011).
Z. Oklopcic, “Constituent Power and Polity Legitimacy in the European Context: A Theoretical Sketch” in J. Drew, ed., Redefining Europe (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi 2005)

Blog post, book reviews, and other scholarly publications

Z. Oklopcic, “The Referendum on Catalan Self-Determination, Endemic Rhetoric, Interpretive Hypocrisy and Legal Imagination” Völkerrechtsblog, 22 September 2017, doi: 10.17176/20170925-144056.

Zoran Oklopcic, “Constitutionalize This: Catalan Referendum as Political Surprise and Theoretical Disruption”, International Journal of Constitutional Law Blog, October 6 2017

Z. Oklopcic, “Drafting Independence: Catalan Declaration of Sovereignty and the Question of Constituent Power in Context”, International Journal of Constitutional Law Blog, February 2013.

Z. Oklopcic, “Review of Joel Colón-Riós’ ‘Weak Constitutionalism’”, Int’l J. Const. L. Blog, October 15, 2012.

Z. Oklopcic, “Preliminary Thoughts on the Kosovo Opinion”, EJIL: Talk!, July 26 2010.

Z. Oklopcic, “Reflections on self-determination, and the status of Kosovo in light of the Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia”, EJIL: Talk!, December 31 2009.

Z. Oklopcic, “The Paradox of Constitutionalism: Constituent Power and Constitutional Form”, (book review) (2008) 6:2 International Journal of Constitutional Law, 358-370.

Z. Oklopcic, “Self-Determination of Peoples and Plural-Ethnic States in Contemporary International Law: Failed States, Nation-building and the Alternative, Federative Option” by Edward McWhinney, (book review) (2007) 45 Canadian Yearbook of International Law, 617-623.

Special issues (guest editor)

ICONnect Online Symposium: The Independence Vote in Catalonia (October 2017)

The special issue of (2015) 16:3 German Law Journal “The crisis in Ukraine between the law, power and principle”

The special issue of (2015) 52:1 Politička misao: Croatian Journal of political science “Self-determination and secession: the case of Yugoslavia”.