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Valentin Behr

University of Strasbourg - (FIAS Program)
The Robert Zajonc Institute for Social Studies of the University of Warsaw
Decentering the study of the production and circulation of ideas. Conservative intellectuals and the critique of liberal democracy
01 September 2021 - 30 June 2022
Political science

Valentin Behr is a political scientist. He obtained his PhD at the University of Strasbourg in 2017. His PhD dissertation was dedicated to a socio-historical analysis of the Polish historiography of the 1939-1989 period. It shows how Polish historians of the recent past have been dealing with political constraints, mainly state-sponsored narratives (historical policy), from 1945 to 2015.

He has been involved in several research projects, including “ValEUR: Governing values, governing through values, governed by values? The European Union as a risk polity” (Université libre de Bruxelles, Cevipol), “The Polish executive: social background, careers and resources of its members” (University of Warsaw, The Robert Zajonc Institute for Social Studies) and “PolEco: L'Eurocratie revisitée à l'aune des trajectoires d'auxiliaires politiques. Sociologie des relations entre politique et économie” (University of Strasbourg, UMR 7363 SAGE). He is also an associate researcher at the Center for French Studies of the University of Warsaw.

Valentin Behr has taught at the universities of Strasbourg, Paris-3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris-Dauphine, Warsaw and Katowice.

In September 2021, he joined the Paris IAS as part of the French Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship program - FIAS - co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945408. His fellowship also benefits from the support of the RFIEA+ LABEX, with a national funding (Grant ANR-11-LABX-0027-01).

Research interests

Sociology of intellectual engagement; social history of political ideas; transnational circulation of ideas; conservatism; illiberalism.

Decentering the study of the production and circulation of ideas. Conservative intellectuals and the critique of liberal democracy

This research project is focused on the metapolitical work undertaken by conservative intellectuals seeking to reverse the supposed cultural hegemony acquired by the left since the late 1960s. Drawing on the sociology of intellectuals and the social history of political ideas, the study of conservative turning points is placed in a processual perspective and temporalities longer than the electoral conjuncture. How do ideas circulate, trans-nationally (from one country to another) and trans-sectorally (between intellectual and political worlds)? What are the factors (social, material, institutional) and the contexts that favor such circulations?

This project invites us to revisit the figure of the intellectual and to look at the role of “conservative civil society” in the legitimization and implementation of anti-liberal political changes. The study articulates three distinct fields: Poland, France and the transnational conservative intellectual field. Understanding the latter from the Polish case allows us to propose a more complex geography of the international circulation of ideas, beyond the center-periphery model. The aim is to understand the mutual references and influences between different currents of the right, on both sides of the Atlantic and of the former Iron Curtain.

Ultimately, the project aims at understanding the conditions of the appropriation of ideas in politics. By this I mean the circulation and uses of ideas, not only in partisan circles but also in public debate, which implies understanding the contributions of several spheres (intellectual, political, media, academic) to the processes of production and diffusion of ideas.


Key publications

Behr Valentin, Blaive Muriel, Constantin Anenoma et al., “An anti-communist Consensus : The Black Book of communism in Pan-European Perspective”, in Revue d'études comparatives Est-Ouest, vol. 51, n° 2-3, 2020, p. 55-88. https://doi.org/10.3917/receo1.512.0055 

Behr Valentin, “La politique publique de l’histoire et le ‘bon changement’ en Pologne”, in Revue d’études comparatives Est-Ouest, vol. 51, n° 1, 2020, p. 73-103. https://doi.org/10.3917/receo1.511.0073 

Behr Valentin, “Historical policy-making in post-1989 Poland: a sociological approach to the narratives of communism”, in European Politics and Society, vol. 18, Issue 1, 2017, p. 81-95. https://doi.org/10.1080/23745118.2016.1269447

Latest publication

Behr Valentin, “From Anticommunism to Antiliberalism. Polish Conservative Intellectuals’ Involvement in the Transnational Circulation of Ideas”, in Elżbieta Halas and Nicolas Maslowski (eds.), Politics of Symbolization Across Central and Eastern Europe. Strategies, Conflicts, Solutions, Peter Lang, 2021, p. 241-259.

Talk by Valentin Behr (Université de Strasbourg, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow) as part of the 16th Congrès de l'Association Française de Science Politique
05 Jul 2022 09:00 -
07 Jul 2022 18:00,
Social History of Conservative Ideas
Carte blanche with Valentin Behr, politicien and 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow
28 Jun 2022 19:00 -
28 Jun 2022 20:00,
Les acteurs du tournant ‘illibéral’ global : une sociologie des intellectuels conservateurs
Talk by Valentin Behr (Université de Strasbourg, résident-chercheur 2021-2022 de l'IEA de Paris) as part of the conference « Sciences sociales en danger ? Pratiques et savoirs de l’émancipation » organized by the EHESS
23 Jun 2022 09:00 -
23 Jun 2022 13:00,
Réécrire l’histoire ? Menaces sur l’autonomie de la recherche et de l’enseignement en Pologne
Workshop organized by Valentin Behr (Université de Strasbourg) 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow
02 Jun 2022 09:30 -
03 Jun 2022 16:00,
Intellectuals against liberal democracy. Academia, media, and culture.
14 Feb 2022 09:00 -
14 Mar 2022 00:00,
Paris :
Intellectuals against liberal democracy. Academia, media, and culture.
08 Feb 2022 10:00 -
08 Feb 2022 13:00,
Transnational production and circulation of ideas from the periphery. Polish conservative intellectuals and the critique of liberal democracy
Contemporary period (1789-…)
Western Europe