Sophie Wahnich


Chercheur.e associé.e

Institution de rattachement principal : Laboratoire PACTE - Grenoble



Sophie Wahnich, director of research in political science at the CNRS, is “agrégée” in history, a doctor in history and is qualified to direct research in history and political science.  After teaching at the University of Aix-en-Provence and then Dijon, she supported a thesis on the notion of foreigner in the discourse of the French Revolution. She joined the CNRS in 1995 in the political science section (40). She then focused her research on the emotional part of political practices moving away from the analyses that make the most of the rationality of the actors. The aim was to bring together the field of literary studies discussed during a one-year stay at the “Centre inter-universitaire d'analyse du discours” in  Montréal, which is strongly linked to studies of comparative literature and socio-political-history of politics.

She joined the Laios team in July 1999 where she led two research teams. From 1999 to 2001 on museums of war history in the context of the call on the European identity in questions, from 2003 to 2005, on the notion of amnesty (GIP justice concerning the institutions of Clemency.) She participated in a European research program under FP5 on political cultures in the context of an enlarged Europe.

She works to reactivate the laboratory of the French Revolution in a report to the present.
In June 2012, she founded TRAM with Lynda Dematteo and Catherine Neveu, she is the manager of the  IIAC since 2016.

Just now she is a member of the social science school in the IAS Princeton.

Research Topics: Sophie Wahnich works on the role of emotions in building social ties and social representations in a past/present relationship. From a theoretical and methodological point of view, it is a question of no longer considering that emotions and rational discourses are two distinct spheres of social life but of understanding how social and historical determinations legible in emotions are at work in processes of subjectivation and decision making. The approach is therefore multidisciplinary and aims to articulate areas that are often divided: history of politics, political analysis of sovereignty in action and the place of violence, anthropology of rituals, of vengeance, of the sacred.

These problems have been invested in various fields: a political history of the time 1792, an analysis of the role of political art today, an analysis of museums of history of wars of the twentieth century, a political history of the notion of amnesty. She is now working on the role of emotions in the transmission of democratic values both in the revolutionary period and in the present.

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