Alumni Postdoc Fellow

Dr Xavier Mathieu

Alumni Fellows

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstraße 44
47059 Duisburg

Tel:  +49 (0)203 29861-136
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276
E-mail: mathieu@spam


Dr Xavier Mathieu joins the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Postdoc-Fellow. He will be conducting his research in Research Unit 1 'The (Im)Possibility of Cooperation' from October 2016 to August 2017.

Research Project at the Centre

Creating Difference in the International Society: The Construction of the 'Local' as Different in the Context of State-building Interventions

The concept of 'difference' is at the basis of some of the most fundamental problems our world society is now facing, from the exclusion of the non-West to the understanding of the legitimacy of 'universal' norms. Yet 'difference' itself is rarely interrogated and is usually taken as a given or a natural feature of international life. In contrast, this project will ask how difference is created in the context of state-building interventions. Thanks to an in-depth theoretical discussion combined with an empirical exploration of a contemporary intervention this project questions the assumption of difference that characterises most of the literature on state-building. As such, it offers new answers to the problematique of inclusiveness and pluralism by revealing how international encounters generate difference and what form(s) this difference can take.

This project can thus make a significant contribution to the question of the construction of difference at the international level while also participating in the on-going academic debate around state-building interventions. In order to do so, this project brings together the contemporary literature on the problematic aspects of including the 'local' in state-building interventions with historical and conceptual studies of difference and Otherness in international relations. What I propose is an analysis of the cultural narratives of difference through which actors draw lines between the similar and the Other. Such an exploration, I argue, can inform the problématiques of international cooperation, inequality and diversity. It can also provide innovative answers to the peace- and state-building literature recent 'local turn'.

Research Interests

  • Difference and its Creation in/through International Relations
  • Inter-Cultural Encounters and Interactions
  • Sovereignty, the State, and International Interventions
  • Peace- and State-building
  • Critical Theories of International Relations

Current Projects

  • The Discursive Strategies of Civilised Sovereignty: Performing French 'Civilisation' and the Amerindians' 'State of Nature' (paper project)
  • Otherness and Familiarity: Revisiting the Discovery of America and the Creation of Difference in International Relations (paper project)
  • From 'Local' to 'Different'? Promises and Colonial Limits of the 'Local' Turn in the Peacebuilding Literature (paper project)
  • The Intricacies of International Liberalism: The Liberal 'People' of Syria versus the 'Opposition', or the Schizophrenia of US Foreign Policy Discourses on the Syrian Crisis (paper project)
  • Performing Sovereignty: Civilisation and Savagery in the New and Old World (manuscript project)


08/2016-09/2016 University of Leeds, UK
School of Politics and International Studies
Project 'The Responsibility to Protect in the Context of the Continuing War on Terror: A study of Liberal Interventionism and the Syrian Crisis'
Research Assistant
10/2012-11/2015 University of Sheffield, UK
Department of Politics
PhD Candidate

Selected Publications

Mathieu, Xavier, and Lemay-Hébert, Nicolas (2014): 'The OECD’s Discourse on Fragile States: Expertise, Policy Prescriptions and the Normalization of Knowledge Production', Third World Quarterly 35 (2): 232–51.

Mathieu, Xavier, and Lemay-Hébert, Nicolas (2014): 'The OECD’s Discourse on Fragile States: Expertise, Policy Prescriptions and the Normalization of Knowledge Production', in Sonja Grimm, Nicolas Lemay-Hébert and Olivier Nay (ed.), The Political Invention of Fragile States, London: Routledge, 36–55.

Mathieu, Xavier (2013) : 'Souveraineté : Evolution conceptuelle d’une notion clé', in Dario Battistella (ed.), Relations Internationales - Bilan et Perspectives, Paris : Editions Ellipses, 195–214.

Mathieu, Xavier (2014): 'On Sovereignty and Other Political Delusions by Joan Cocks', published December 24 2014 on,

Mathieu, Xavier (2011): 'Shahar Hameiri, Regulating Statehood: State building and the Transformation of the Global Order', Book Review, Cambridge Review of International Affairs 24 (3): 544–6.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • University of Sheffield, seminar leader and occasional lecturer in International Relations Theory (level 2), Introduction to Security Studies (level 1), Introduction to Political Analysis (level 1), and Contemporary US Foreign Policy (level 2) from 2012–2016
  • Sheffield International College, seminar leader in Political Theory (Pre-university foundation course for international students) in 2012

Seminars and Conferences

  • The Other within? French discourses of sovereignty and civilisation and the creation of the civil(ised) subject, EISA 9th Pan-European Conference, Giardini-Naxos, Italy, 23–26 September 2015.
  • Impunity, Security and the Colonial Frontier (participant), Workshop of the Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial Working Group, BISA Annual Conference, London, UK, 16 June 2015.
  • Decolonising the 'Discovery' of America? The European use of familiar concepts in the creation of the Amerindian Other, BISA Annual Conference, London, UK, 17–19 June 2015.
  • The Discursive Strategies of Civilised Sovereignty: Performing difference between French 'civilisation' and the Amerindians' 'state of nature', Workshop 'Facing the Frontier: Cultural Difference, Sovereignty, and Expansion in the Early Modern World', Durham University, UK, 16 March 2015.
  • The OECD's Conception of Legitimacy (with Nicolas Lemay-Hebert), Workshop 'Legitimacy in Conflict: Concepts, Practices, and Implications', Reading, 2 May 2014.
  • Performing French Sovereignty, Performing Amerindian Inferiority: Agency and Its counterpart in Europe and the New World, Workshop 'Performativity and Agency in International Politics', Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, 21–22 February 2014.
  • Discourse and Reality of Sovereignty: The Performativity of the 'Sovereign State' of Kosovo, ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, USA, 3–6 April 2013.
  • Constructing Sovereignty/Civilisation and the Other in Early French Affirmations of Statehood, Working Group 'Theorizing Hierarchy in Anarchy', ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, USA, 3–6 April 2013.
  • Building Legitimacy in Fragile States: The Difficult Inclusion of a Political Concept in the Discourses of the OECD (paper co-authored with Nicolas Lemay-Hébert), IPSA World Congress, Madrid, Spain, 8–12 July 2012.
  • The Performativity of Sovereignty in a Post-Colonial International Society: Discursive Power and the Construction of Kosovo's Statehood, ECPR Joint Sessions, Workshop 'The Institutions of International Society Revisited: Theory, Practice, Performativity', Antwerp, Belgium, April 2012.
  • Empiricising Sovereignty, Revealing its Normativity: The Concept of Sovereignty as an Expression of our Own Aspirations, Millennium Annual Conference 'Out Of The Ivory Tower: Weaving the Theories and Practice of International Relations', London, UK, October 2011.
  • La Soberania de un Absoluto a Otro: No-intervención, 'Buena Gobernanza' y Nueva Legitimidad de las Intervenciones, X Congreso de la AECPA, Murcia, Spain, September 2011.


  • International Studies Association (ISA): Member and Communications Director of the International Political Sociology Section (since February 2015)
  • British International Studies Association (BISA)
  • European International Studies Association (EISA)

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