Thomas Mercier: Research and CV

Derrida’s Europes: Deconstruction, Marxism, Democracy

Research Area 1: Displacements, “Dépaysements” and Discrepancies: People, Knowledge and Practices

Research project :  Archives and Interculturality 


Thomas Mercier was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree by King’s College London (War Studies Department) in May 2017. He specializes in the study of violence and democratic legitimacy, at the intersection between international political theory, performativity studies, psychoanalysis and deconstruction. His research interests include critical international studies, postcolonial and decolonial thought, deconstructive biopolitics, gender studies and queer theory, animal and environmental ethics.

His research at CEFRES blends biographical and philosophical analyses so as to unpack the complexity of Jacques Derrida’s relationship to Europe — or, rather, Europes — conceived as structurally plural and heterogeneous. His general goal is to explore Derrida’s engagement in favour of a certain idea of European democracy, hospitable to the event of its own transformation and deconstruction. More precisely, Thomas Mercier focuses on Derrida’s personal and cultural attachment to Central and Eastern Europe before and after the fall of the USSR, with a special interest in Derrida’s deconstructive analyses of Marxist literature and politics. Many of these analyses, often very critical, took place in the 1960s and 1970s in the context of seminars at l’École Normale Supérieure, and remain unpublished today. These unpublished notes prefigure Specters of Marx (1993), wherein Derrida reassessed Marxism as an unavoidable part of the European heritage and promise, while opposing the narrative presenting neoliberalism as the homogeneous teleological destiny of ‘Europe’ in the wake of Marx’s supposed ‘death’. In doing so, Derrida aimed to challenge the Cold War narrative of a strict opposition between Western and Eastern Europe, between liberal and Marxist traditions. By analysing archival materials, Thomas Mercier wishes to shed new light on the relationship between deconstruction and historical materialism, and to emphasise the political implications of Derrida’s thought as they appear as early as the 1960s. This research, which comprises philosophical, historical, political, economic and cultural dimensions, aims to produce another idea of Europe, more open to Europe’s otherness.



2016: Ph.D. (Part-Time) — King’s College, London (War Studies Dpt.), thesis title: ‘The Violence of Legitimacy: Democracy, Power, Antagonism’, under the supervision of
Prof. Vivienne Jabri and Prof. Mervyn Frost.

2007: Master’s Degree (w/ Honours) – Sciences-Po Paris, Joint degree (double Master’s) in International Relations (Research Degree) and Political Science (Professional Degree), main dissertation: ‘Defining Terrorism within International Organisations: Consensus or Hegemony?’, under the supervision of Prof. Didier Bigo.

2005: Master’s Degree (w/ Honours) – Université Paris-III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Master’s Degree in Literature and Linguistics, main dissertations: ‘René Crevel: Poetics and Politics of the Surrealist Body’; ‘Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute, Beckett. From Nouveau Roman to Nouvelle Autobiographie: New Fictions of Ipseity’; ‘Metanarrativity in
Raymond Queneau’s Novels’.

2000 – 2003: Preparatory Classes for Grandes Écoles (CPGE) – Lycée Cézanne (Aix-en-Pce)

Selected publications:

Book chapter
  • ‘Resisting Legitimacy’, in Contending Legitimacy in World Politics: The State, Civil Society and the International Sphere in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Bronwyn Winter and Lucia Sorbera (London and New York: Routledge, 2018).
  • ‘Is There an “Age of Deconstruction”? Thinking the Force of an Event, from dynamis to puissance’ – due to be published in 2018 in Oxford Literary Review (issue dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Derrida’s De la grammatologie).
  • ‘Book Review on Étienne Balibar’s Equaliberty and Violence and Civility’ – due to be published in 2018 in the journal Derrida Today.
  • ‘(In)croyance originaire, et survivances de la magie: Retour sur le “retour du religieux”’ – due to be published in January 2018 in Revue iter.
  • ‘Jacques Derrida et la question du terrorisme’ – published in August 2017 in L’ENA hors les murs, journal of the École Nationale d’Administration (issue on ‘Terrorism and War on Terror’).
  • ‘Resisting Legitimacy: Weber, Derrida, and the Fallibility of Sovereign Power’ – published in 2016 in the journal Global Discourse.
Published translations
  • Jacques Derrida, ‘The Truth that Wounds: Body To Body, Tongue To Tongue’ – Translation in English of ‘La vérité blessante, ou le corps-à-corps des langues’ – to be published in 2018 in parallax (issue on corps).
  • Jacques Derrida, ‘Terreur et religion: Pour une nouvelle politique’ – Translation in French of ‘Terror, Religion, and the New Politics’ – to be published in January 2018 in Revue iter.