In progress

Steffen Laura. “Le cauchemar nixonien d’Obama: désengagement ou engagement en Irak et en Afghanistan? Causes et portée d’un nouveau leadership (2008-2016)”. American Civilization. Under the supervision of Gildas Le Voguer. University of Rennes 2. In progress since 2017. French. 

Barack Obama, like Nixon in his time with Vietnam, was elected on the promise to get the US out of the two endless wars into which his predecessor had plunged it. Yet it is clear that Obama has not disengaged from Iraq and Afghanistan. American troops are still there today, but this time not to make war but to make peace. Rather than talking about ‘disengagement’, I propose a thesis on the notion of engagement. I have chosen the English term engagement, which has a much broader meaning than in French, but which is also particularly connoted in American foreign policy, referring to Bill Clinton’s doctrine. For the former Democratic president, in fact, the terms engagement and enlargement were indissociable, aiming at a unilateralist policy strongly questioned by Obama during his two terms in office. Moreover, if the English word engagement originally derives from the French meaning ‘moral obligation’, its meaning has evolved over time. Today, the term refers to military manoeuvres, interventions or the fact of encouraging an individual or a group of individuals to get involved in an action. We will therefore look at the desire for multilateralism and the expansion of coalitions expressed by Obama. Moreover, Iraq and Afghanistan have forced a renewal of intellectual inquiry into US grand strategy, and are the starting points for Obama’s foreign policy. If in Libya, Barack Obama proclaimed himself ‘leader from behind’, we can understand that the US continues to exercise leadership. Leadership from behind, not in retreat. The management of the conflict, post-conflict will be at the heart of my work, which will be part of the current of diplomatic history. Around this notion of ‘engagement’ and by crossing the fields of diplomacy, military renewal and multilateralism, my thesis will attempt to reconstitute the theoretical and deeper reasons and consequences of the Obama administration’s foreign policy decisions over the period 2008-2016, attempting to understand the redefinition of American leadership but also of war.

Nizar Slimani. “Constructing America’s Energy Security, 2004-2020 : from Crisis to Dominance”. American Studies. under the supervision of Gildas Le Voguer et de Wassim Daghrir. University Rennes 2 in co-supervision with University of Center (Sousse, Tunisia). In progress since 2017. French. 

This thesis generates a greater understanding of America’s energy security between 2004 and 2020 by exposing the ways through which energy was securitized during the time period under study. The central argument of this research is that energy security is a contested issue; its meanings are not fixed as they can be constructed either negatively or positively through discourse and practice. Statist energy security constructions are based on a national security ontology, in which the bounded autonomous state seeks to immunize itself from an external “Other”, whose threatening presence requires “emergency measures”. This requires stockpiling fossil fuel reserves as well as assuring reliable energy supplies at reasonable prices. As might be expected, this proved to be problematic as it inevitably spurs zero-sum competition, perpetuates geopolitical tension and threatens both human and environmental security. Notwithstanding, the very existence of dissent voices and alternative energy security constructions reveals that security can be thought differently through a networked set of actors working to secure human rights and biosphere integrity. Thus, by illustrating the contested nature of energy security, this thesis highlights the importance of discourse and practice in shaping the value of security and provides the potential for destabilizing its defective ontology and expanding its scope.



Caignet Aurore. “Représenter, réinterpréter et réimaginer le patrimoine industriel : la promotion du renouveau de la ville postindustrielle du Nord de l’Angleterre (1970-2010)”. History. University Rennes 2. 2018. French.

This thesis examines what remains of the industrial heritage in the reconversion of industrial buildings, the regeneration of a city and its spaces inherited from the industrial revolution, and their reinvention and promotion. The representations that emerge around the heritage of industrial buildings, and the regeneration of this heritage and its immediate environment, contribute to the representation of the post-industrial city. The presence and permanence of industrial heritage – in the landscape and the image of the city – are conditioned by its degree of adaptation to contemporary tastes and uses. This thesis reveals a lesser awareness and representation of industrial heritage despite increased protection and appreciation, and a tug of war between inclusion and exclusion of industrial heritage at the scale of the city, the district, the industrial building, and at the level of representations aimed at their promotion and attraction of tourists. It focuses on Bradford and Manchester, two former industrial cities in the North of England, and covers a period from 1970 to 2010, marked first by deindustrialisation and the development of industrial archaeology, then by changes in the conservation and reuse of buildings of industrial origin, as well as by the regeneration of the post-industrial city and the redefinition of its image. This study concludes at the end of the 2000s, a prolific decade in terms of reinterpretations of industrial remains, and looks at recent reuses for cultural and/or creative purposes.