Benoit Vaillot holds a M.A. in History and in Political Sciences (Université de Lyon and Sciences Po Lyon, France), and a PhD in History from the European University Institute (Florence, Italy). In his thesis, he proposed a transnational and from below history of the border drawn between France and the German Empire at the end of the Franco-German War of 1870 and disappeared with the first fighting of the First World War. Rarely has a border attracted so much attention and illustrated so well its function as a point of balance between two antagonistic powers in the era of nation states. Before joining the C²DH he was postdoctoral researcher at the Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès (Toulouse, France), and worked for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Paris, France) as expert in contemporary German archives.
His research is firmly rooted in a social and political history of the construction of sovereignties and national identities in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, adopting a transnational and bottom-up approach centred on ordinary and intermediate actors. Borders and borderlands are privileged observation points for these major historical phenomena. He is interested in the practices by which populations mobilise and actualise their sense of national belonging (everyday nationhood) and their active participation, directly or indirectly, in the construction and reinforcement of sovereignty. His current research project is entitled "Orphans of the nation" and focuses on children as objects of national struggle in the Franco-German borderland from 1871 to 1914.
He taught History in secondary schools and universities for several years. Since 2018, he is offering online resources for 19th and 20th centuries German paleography in German, French and English.
Benoit is part of the WWIILUX project that develops a virtual exhibition on the Second World War in Luxembourg.