Photo - Valentin Clavé-Mercier

Valentin holds a B.A. in Political Studies and a M.A. in Political Analysis, both from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain). He is starting the first year of his POLITICO-CISRUL PhD studentship at the University of Aberdeen in October 2018, thanks to a Marie Skłodowska-Curie scholarship. His PhD project, supervised by Dr Trevor Stack and Dr Ritu Vij, is focused on the concept of sovereignty and more exactly on the use, mobilisation and materialisation of this notion by Maori people in 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.

Throughout his academic journey, Valentin has usually found himself in a crossroads between several disciplines. Conducting a qualitative research and fieldwork led him to incorporate anthropology and ethnography to his work, while his interest in power-space relations drove him to cement himself in Political Geography. His early research was focused on urban studies, interrogating processes such as gentrification, globality production, urban entrepreneurship or right to the city and their consequences on local communities. Over the past few years, Valentin has published and presented several papers on these topics and on indigenous sovereignty claims and movements. In 2017, he was awarded an Erasmus+ mobility scholarship in order to spend three months working on indigenous rights and political struggles in 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 political reality and studied actors constituted an important breakthrough and led to a thorough restructuring of his research project.

Valentin has also been engaged as a social movements activist in Spain defending and promoting several social causes. He is a co-founder of Juventud Sin Futuro, a youth collective which was crucial in the Indignados Movement awakening; a co-founder of Gentrisaña, an anti-gentrification collective based in the Malasaña neighbourhood; and was a member of the housing rights movement called PAH 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. Political geography and political theory intertwine in Valentin’s PhD research, which is focused on Maori sovereignty claims and mobilisations in New Zealand during the past four decades. His dissertation will interrogate 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. The potential of this PhD research is that, through the study of Maori sovereignty, it intends to reveal alternative modalities and practices of sovereignty, as well as new ways of articulating and thinking the nation and its identity which could contribute to the reflection on issues about political community in Europe and elsewhere.

Valentin’s research interests include:

  • Indigenous studies
  • Sovereignty studies
  • Political geography
  • Social movements
  • Postcolonial studies
  • Identity politics

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