Mathilde Leloup is Oxpo Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) of the University of Oxford and a Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies (CERI/Sciences Po) in Paris. Her post-doctoral research explores the dual nature of cultural heritage in the strategic communications of belligerents in contemporary asymmetric conflicts. It aims at analysing how cultural heritage is used by both ‘terrorist groups’ and regular national armies (especially those of France and the UK) participating in both unilateral and multilateral operations (led by NATO or the UN) to criminalise the ‘other’ and heroise the ‘self’.
Mathilde defended her PhD thesis at Sciences Po Paris in November 2019. Her dissertation, entitled ‘Redefining Humanity Through its Heritage: The Incorporation of Cultural Protection into Peacekeeping Mandates’, was awarded the Dalloz prize in 2020. This research was co-directed by Dr Frederic Ramel (Sciences Po/CERI) and Dr Dacia Viejo-Rose (McDonald Institute/University of Cambridge) and was based on participant observation (at UNESCO and the UN Department of Peace Operations), interviews with UN staff members (at the UN Headquarters and on the ground) and archival work. This thesis aims to explain how a local and stand-alone initiative like cultural heritage protection by the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) could, in a crisis context, become central to an international discourse of universalism. Traditionally considered an important but secondary issue during armed conflicts and humanitarian crises, cultural heritage protection shifted, between 2012 and 2017, from the 'technical' field of UNESCO to the 'political' field of the UN Security Council, on the grounds of its status as the ‘heritage of all mankind’.
This PhD research led to several publications, among which the article ‘Heritage protection as stabilization, the emergence of a new “mandated task” for UN peace operations’ in the peer-reviewed academic journal International Peacekeeping. From April to July 2017, Mathilde was also hosted as a visiting researcher in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge.
As Temporary Lecturer, Mathilde Leloup taught Political Science (notably International Relations and Political Sociology) at Sciences Po Paris, Sciences Po Bordeaux and Université Paris-Sud. Since 2018, she is co-organiser of the GRAM (Research Group on Multilateral Action) research seminar at CERI.
Mathilde’s research interests include the issues of cultural heritage, international security, armed forces and peacekeeping as well as international organisations.
Mathilde also holds a Master’s degree in Political Science at Sciences Po and two double Bachelor’s degrees, one from Sciences Po and Paris IV Sorbonne (in Political Science and French Literature) and the other from Sciences Po and the Freie Universität of Berlin (in International Relations).