Jean Terrier studied social and political science at the Universities of Lausanne (BA) and Cambridge (MPhil), and at the European University Institute in Florence (PhD). Before his time at the ICI Berlin, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University in New York and at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin. In his work, he combines perspectives from social and political theory, the history of concepts, and the history of the social sciences.

He is especially interested in the representation of identity and difference among social and political thinkers, working for instance on the history of the concept of culture, on the problem of political traditions, on the metaphor of the ‘body politic’, on the national imaginary.

By Some Strange Resistance in Itself.
Cultural Diversity and the Contemporary Nation-State

ICI Project 2008-09

This research looks at the place of cultural diversity in the discourses and institutions of contemporary European nation-states. It seeks to account for the fact that liberal states do not fail, but refuse to take into account cultural diversity. It shows that the usual explanation offered for this refusal – that cultural diversity must be de-emphasised in the name of individual autonomy – is historically unconvincing.

This research suggests instead that one should start from the notion that the practical category of the national is still strongly at work in European states. Insofar as the national imaginary, as this research demonstrates, rests upon a notion of social homogeneity, one can make the hypothesis that any place where this imaginary is still active will tend to be averse to recognizing diversity.