Research Themes

Sovereignty | States, Empires, International Relations

This theme brings together research focused on the expression of political power in nation states and empires. It examines the legal sources of sovereignty, contextualised as social phenomena. It studies the relations of cooperation and competition between state entities, including armed conflict. It deals with national and international institutions, the ways in which states structure their territories, and how they prioritise and coordinate the various levels of government. Finally, it addresses the question of citizenship and political representation, analysed in its various forms from a comparative perspective.

Government | Institutions, Knowledge, Norms 

This theme approaches the study of societies through the functioning of their public and private institutions—administrations, armies, educational and social services, companies, etc. Research under this theme extends to the way in which institutions call for and shape instruments that allow them to know, identify, and categorise populations and territories. It considers how knowledge is constructed and circulated, how it is appropriated and implemented in the form of economic, social, and environmental expertise. In this way, the theme questions the legal, administrative, and social norms that underpin public policy and the representations that go with it.

Experiences | Social Actors, Movements, & Groups

This theme focuses on the everyday life of societies, whether in situations of relative stability or in times of upheaval—political, social, or cultural crises, war, etc. The sensory and bodily experiences, emotions, and opinions forged by individuals and groups according to their circles of belonging are used to examine forms of cooperation and confrontation between political forces, addressed in their plurality—whether parties, associations, civil society movements or religious movements. This includes both recognised and “legitimate” individuals and groups, and those who are relegated by processes of marginalisation and stigmatisation.

Humanities | Lives, Materialities, Representations

The notion of humanity, approached from diverse angles, is the subject of growing curiosity in the humanities and social sciences. The legal construction of human rights and of the boundaries of life, while seemingly initiated in the 20th century, questions an earlier past, the stages of which we endeavour to reconstruct. At the same time, objects, species, and environments foster relationships of co-construction, exploitation, or commodification that constantly redefine human societies, their divisions and hierarchies. These relationships are fuelled by and disrupt social imaginaries, and nourish processes of aestheticisation and symbolisation in which the arts and technology are intertwined. Here, both digital history and literary history make a reflexive contribution to the objectivation of past worlds as well as to the production of virtual worlds.

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