Turkuler Isiksel

Turkuler Isiksel

Research Interests


Spring 2021

  • Issues in Political Theory (4 Credits)
    Prerequisites: the instructors permission prior to registration. A survey of selected issues and debates in political theory. Areas of the field discussed include normative political philosophy, history of political thought, and the design of political and social institutions.

Fall 2020

  • Contemporary Western Civilization I (4 Credits)
    College Core (CORE) CC1101

    Taught by members of the Departments of Anthropology, Classics, English and Comparative Literature, French, German, History, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Slavic Languages, and Sociology; and members of the Society of Fellows. A study in their historical context of major contributions to the intellectual traditions that underpin contemporary civilization. Emphasis is on the history of political, social, and philosophical thought. Students are expected to write at least three papers to complete two examinations, and to participate actively in class discussions.


Turkuler Isiksel (Ph.D., Yale) is currently the James P. Shenton Assistant Professor of the Core Curriculum at Columbia and works in contemporary political theory. Isiksel is particularly interested in how descriptive and normative categories tailored to the nation-state apply to political institutions beyond that context, and combines the perspectives of normative theory, legal analysis, and institutionalist political science in her work. Her substantive research interests include constitutional theory, the law and politics of the European Union and other international economic institutions, Enlightenment political philosophy (especially the evolution of ideas about commerce and international politics in the eighteenth century), theories of corporate personhood, sovereignty, citizenship, and human rights. On occasion, she also writes on Turkish politics. Her research has appeared in Human Rights Quarterly, the European Journal of International LawInternational Journal of Constitutional Law (I*CON)Global Constitutionalism, the European Law Journal, and Constellations. Isiksel has held a Jean Monnet postdoctoral fellowship at the European University Institute (2010-2011), a LAPA/Perkins Fellowship at Princeton University's Law and Public Affairs Program (2014-2015), and an Emile Noël Fellowship at NYU Law School (Fall 2015). She was also a visiting research fellow at the Justitia Amplificata Centre at Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt-am-Main (Summer 2015).

Isiksel is the author of Europe’s Functional Constitution. A Theory of Constitutionalism beyond the State, a monograph published in 2016 by the Oxford University Press Constitutional Theory Series. The book investigates the extent to which constitutionalism, in its dual role as an institutional framework and a repository for key principles of political legitimacy, can be adapted to international institutions. Addressing this question in the light of the European Union's legal order, Isiksel argues that the economically driven process of European integration has brought into being a qualitatively distinct form of constitutional practice, which she terms functional constitutionalism. Functional constitutionalism is distinct from the familiar democratic and rights-based models of constitutional rule insofar as it is oriented towards the achievement of a relatively narrow set of substantive political ends, in this case, promoting market integration. As a result of this narrow focus, Isiksel argues, the EU’s constitutional order bears only a tenuous relation to the expansive normative principles—including popular sovereignty and individual autonomy—that have distinguished modern constitutional rule since its 18th century origins and vested it with emancipatory promise.

Isiksel is currently working on a book on the theory and practice of corporate personhood. The grounds on which corporations make demands on the rest of society is one of the longer-standing questions of political theory, and implicates both our understanding of the nature of a corporation and the justifications we summon for why any moral agent (legal or natural) is entitled to legal protection. While many observers conceptualize corporate agency as a single moral status, Isiksel argues in favor of a conception that is sensitive to the kaleidoscopic variety of social purposes that guide modern corporate activity. Understood as aggregate actors that bear legal rights and duties, corporations include universities, cities, churches, and business enterprises. According to the purposive conception of corporate agency proposed by Isiksel, the primary principles and goals that guide a corporate entity must serve as the basis for determining its rights and duties. The book will draw on national and international legal systems in developing this argument.


  • PhD, Yale University

Selected Publications


  • Europe's Functional Constitution: A Theory of Constitutionalism beyond the State (Oxford University Press, May 2016).
  • “How transformative is the European Project?”, chapter forthcoming in Miguel Poiares Maduro and Marlene Wind (eds), The Transformation of Europe. Twenty-Five Years On (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
  • "European Exceptionalism and the EU's Accession to the ECHR," European Journal of International Law 27:3 (Fall 2016), pp.565-589
  • "The Rights of Man and the Rights of the Man-made: Corporations and Human Rights," Human Rights Quarterly 38:2 (May 2016), pp.294-349
  • "The Dream of a Commercial Peace," in Luuk van Middelaar and Philippe van Parijs (eds), After the Storm: How to Save Democracy in Europe (Tielt: Lannoo, 2015)
  • “International Institutions,” in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought, ed. Michael T. Gibbons et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)
  • "Between text and context: Turkey's tradition of authoritarian constitutionalism," International Journal of Constitutional Law, 11:3 (July 2013), pp.702-726
  • “Global legal pluralism as fact and norm,” Global Constitutionalism 2:3 (July 2013), pp.160-195
  •  (with Anne Thies), “Introduction,” Global Constitutionalism 2:3 (July 2013), pp. 151-159
  • “Citizens of a new agora: Postnational citizenship and international economic institutions,” in Willem Maas (ed.), Multilevel Citizenship (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)
  •  “On Europe’s functional constitutionalism: towards a constitutional theory of specialized international regimes,” Constellations 19:1 (2012).
  •  “Fundamental rights in the EU after Kadi and Al Barakaat,” European Law Journal 16:5 (September 2010), pp.551-577
  • (with Seyla Benhabib) “Ancient battles, new prejudices, and future perspectives: Turkey and the EU,” Constellations 13:2 (June 2006), pp.218-233