Thomas Clément 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 Clément Mercier was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Political Theory by King’s College London (War Studies Department) in May 2017. He specializes in the study of violence, democratic legitimacy, and political resistance, at the intersection between international political theory 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 deals with Jacques Derrida’s relationship to Central and Eastern Europe, with a focus on his travels to the so-called ‘Eastern Bloc’ before and after the end of the Cold War. Special attention is given to Derrida’s arrest in Prague in 1981 as he was participating in clandestine seminars in support of Czechoslovak dissidents—intellectuals, philosophers and professors—in the context of his political-institutional engagements as Vice President of the Jan Hus Association. 

Thomas Clément Mercier’s research heavily relies on archival documents, letters and unpublished seminars, and blends biographical, historical, and political-theoretical analyses in order to elucidate a series of problems concerning the nature of Derrida’s political-institutional engagements:

  1. The articulation between the deconstruction of philosophy and the practical transformation of socio-political institutions, starting with Derrida’s critique of the institution of philosophy and its potential complicity with political or ideological forces;
  2. Derrida’s critical engagements with Marxist thought and politics, such as displayed by numerous unpublished seminars, notes, and personal letters from the 1960s and 1970s. These unpublished notes prefigure Specters of Marx (1993), wherein Derrida reassessed Marxism as an unavoidable part of the European heritage and promise, while opposing the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;
  3. Derrida’s deconstruction of the idea of Europe — or, rather, ‘Europes’ — understood both as a philosophical concept and as a political notion. In several pre- and post-1989 texts, Derrida questioned the homogeneity and unity of the European heritage, and pluralised its legacies in view of offering a deconstructive analysis of democracy-to-come — an idea of Europe more open to its own heterogeneity.

Through the analysis of archival materials, Thomas Clément Mercier wishes to shed new light on the relationship between deconstruction, democratic theory, and Marxist thought, and to emphasise the ethical-political implications of Derrida’s thought as they appear as early as the 1970s.

Three articles on the topic have been published, and four others are currently under review. A monograph is also in preparation.



2017: PhD — King’s College, London (War Studies Dpt.). Thesis title: ‘The Violence of Legitimacy: Democracy, Power, Antagonism’, under the supervision of Professor Vivienne Jabri and Professor Mervyn Frost.

2007: Master’s Degree – Sciences-Po Paris, Joint degree (double Master’s) in International Relations (Professional Degree) and Political Science (Research Degree). 

2005: Master’s Degree – Université Paris-III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Literature and Linguistics.

Selected publications

Edited volumes
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, 2017).
Published translations