« We always think elsewhere » : praising the act removing oneself to gain perspective, this word of Montaigne’s becomes Nicole Lapierre’s starting point for an unprecedented intellectual journey through the maze of ideas and worlds, of times and places. Her quest leads her to follow the footsteps of those displaced intellectuals, who indeed left home to “think elsewhere”; they stepped off the beaten path and refused to stay in their place, pushed limits and borders and stepped over social barriers without any other motivation but their own. During the course of this adventure, we meet a number of these individuals who, resisting classification, categories and definitions, exposed themselves to danger while exposing their ideas, a gallery of portraits including Georg Simmel, Edward Said, Walter Benjamin, Paul Gilroy, Devereux, Deleuze and many others – a tour in an imaginary museum where ideas come to life. These men chosen by Nicole Lapierre, their lives, careers and work, are so many figures of the foreigner, the intellectual whose specific experience as an outsider leads him to question more sharply and stimulate reflection.
Nicole Lapierre is a sociologist, director of Research at the CNRS and co-director of the journal Communications. She has published Le Silence de la mémoire, Le Livre retrouvé and Changer de nom.