Photo - Valentin Clavé-Mercier

Valentin is currently conducting a PhD as a CISRUL Early Stage Researcher at the University of Aberdeen, thanks to a Marie Skłodowska-Curie scholarship. He holds a B.A. in Political Studies and a M.A. in Political Analysis, both from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain).

His PhD project, supervised by Prof. Trevor Stack and Dr Ritu Vij, is focused on the concept of indigenous sovereignty and more exactly on the use, mobilisation and materialisation of this notion by Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This research draws on previous work and experience gathered during a three-year part-time research on indigenous identity politics and indigenous claims and struggles conducted at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid under the supervision of Dr. María Lois.

Throughout his academic journey, Valentin has usually found himself at a crossroads between several disciplines. Conducting qualitative research and fieldwork led him to incorporate anthropology and ethnography to his work, while his interest in power-space relations and political ideas drove him to Political Geography and Political Theory. His early research was focused on urban studies, interrogating processes such as gentrification, globality production, urban entrepreneurship or the right to the city and their consequences on local communities. Over the past few years, he has published and presented several papers on these topics and on indigenous sovereignty claims and movements. Across this work, Valentin has developed an ongoing interest in the intersection of political theory and political practice, currently focused on the analysis of notions of sovereignty, self-determination and decoloniality in indigenous movements.

In 2017, he was awarded an Erasmus+ mobility scholarship in order to spend three months working on indigenous rights and political struggles at La Trobe University, Melbourne (Australia) under the supervision of Dr. Julie Andrews. This fieldwork experience was a key moment in Valentin’s research process as direct contact with the studied political reality and actors constituted an important breakthrough and led to a thorough restructuring of his research project. Valentin has also been engaged as a social movement’s activist in Spain defending and promoting several social causes. He is co-founder of Juventud Sin Futuro, a youth organization crucial in the Indignados Movement’s awakening; co-founder of Gentrisaña, an anti-gentrification group based in the Malasaña neighbourhood; and was a member of the PAH housing rights movement and an activist of the grassroots social centre “Patio Maravillas” in Madrid.

Both these socio-political concerns and his experience in Melbourne are now cornerstones in his PhD research focus. His dissertation interrogates the sovereignty concept in the light of indigenous conceptualizations and practices, in order to denaturalize the traditional Western conceptualization of sovereignty and to highlight and study such alternative understandings and practices. Through a dialogue with Māori politics of sovereignty, this research intends to reveal alternative modalities and practices of sovereignty, as well as new ways of articulating and thinking political arrangements that will contribute to the reflection and political practice around issues of decoloniality, plurality and self-determination.

In September 2019, Valentin co-organised the “Decolonising Political Concepts” conference at the University of Aberdeen. During the academic year 2019-2020, he conducted fieldwork in Aotearoa/New Zealand as part of his PhD research and was affiliated to the University of Auckland’s School of Social Sciences. Throughout said fieldwork, he engaged with Māori leaders and activists’ political thought and practices as a way to open up new political terrains, possibilities and reflections about alternative/decolonial understandings and configurations of sovereignty.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Indigenous studies
  • Decolonial/Postcolonial studies
  • Political geography
  • Political theory
  • Social movements
  • Identity politics
  • Sovereignty studies

CONTACT

valentin.clave-mercier@abdn.ac.uk


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754326.