How to Reach

Pondicherry (also known as “Pondy”), is a city and capital of the Puducherry union territory of Southern India.

By road from Chennai

Pondicherry is situated 160 km south of Chennai.  Getting to Pondicherry involves a three to four hour road journey from Chennai.  One can get a bus from CMBT in Koyambedu or from Thiruvanmiyur or Guindy.  You can be sure of a seat only from CMBT in Koyambedu.

By train from Chennai

Pondicherry is connected to Chennai by railways through Villupuram. There are 2 passenger trains running daily to Chennai Egmore Railway station. In addition to this, there is also a daily express train to Chennai Egmore. It is advisable to go by road rather than train to Pondicherry from Chennai as the journey is longer by train.

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Bio data of the Experts: Social Sciences Winter School in Pondicherry 2017

Kumar Akhilesh (Director of the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, Chennai) is interested in prehistory, experimental archaeology (reconstructing ancient technology), satellite remote sensing and GIS. He has obtained his Ph.D. from the Deccan College, with a focus on the prehistoric archaeology of Jharkhand. He is currently the co-Director of the research project on the prehistory and palaeoenvironments of Attirampakkam, and is Director of a research project on prehistoric sites in Tamil Nadu. In the frame of an ISRO-GBP project and in collaboration with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and RRSC (Regional Centre for Remote Sensing, South), he is also involved in a project on applications of satellite remote sensing and GIS in archaeology for the purpose of research and heritage management. He has numerous research papers in peer-reviewed national and international journals to his credit, including Science and has presented his work in conferences in India and abroad.

Rémi de Bercegol is a Research Fellow at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). He has a doctorate in Urban Planning from LATTS (research group on technology, territories and societies) at ENPC/UMLV, Paris Est, France. He was a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities (CSH) in New Delhi between 2008 and 2012. During this time, he undertook research for his book on small towns and decentralisation reforms in northern India, which has been published in 2017 by Springer in India. Beyond the scope of India, his research now focuses on world urbanisation and the transformation of cities in the global South, analysed principally in terms of their essential services (water, sanitation, waste management and energy).

Anne Casile is a Research Fellow at IRD (French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development), and a member of the Research Unit PALOC (Patrimoines Locaux and Governance, IRD/ National Museum of Natural History) in Paris. She has been assigned by the IRD in India, and is an Associate Researcher of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP). In the field of spatial and landscape archaeology, her research focuses on water management and the relationship between religion, power, and water control in the making of places and cultural landscapes in Central India. She is currently developing an interdisciplinary project to investigate the impacts of rainfall uncertainty and monsoon anomalies on societal development and vulnerability in medieval times, and the ways people adapted to hydroclimatic variability, insecurity, and extremes in the semi-arid region of Malwa, around Mandu.

Sangeeta Dasgupta is Associate Professor at Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She works on Adivasi history, environmental history, colonial ethnography, missionary studies and visual representations. She is the author of Reordering Adivasi Worlds: Oraons and Tana Bhagats in Colonial and Postcolonial Times (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) and The Politics of Belonging in India: Becoming Adivasi (along with DJ Rycroft), Routledge, London and New York, 2011. She has published widely in leading scholarly journals like Modern Asian Studies and Studies in History, and was guest editor for a special issue titled ‘Reading the Archive, Reframing Adivasi Histories’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Vol. 53:1, 2016. She has been Asa Briggs Visiting Fellow at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom; Visiting Fellow at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, France; International Visiting Fellow at Grinnell College, U.S.A; Agatha Harrison Memorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford; Research Fellow of the Charles Wallace India Trust, U.K.; and Visiting Fellow of the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, U.K.

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Workshop 1 : Urban ideals and Sanitation Experiences : toward a new research agenda  

Workshop 1 : Urban ideals and Sanitation Experiences : 

toward a new research agenda



  • Rémi de Bercegol

Geographer – Urbanist (CNRS, PRODIG, Paris)

Invited tutors:

  • Nathalie Jean-Baptiste

Geographer – Urbanist (Ardhi University, Dar Es Salaam; Technical University of Darmstadt)

  • Shubaghato Dasgupta

Economist (Sci-Fi team, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi)

  • Arkaja Singh

Lawyer (Sci-Fi team, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi)

  • Anju Diwedi

Anthropologist (Sci-Fi team, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi)

  • Ambarish Karunanith Ambar

Engineer (Sci-Fi team, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi)

  • Chloé Leclerc

Economist – Statistician (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon)



After declaring 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation, the United Nations General Assembly officially recognized in 2010 access to drinking water and sanitation as a human right. Sanitation is thus of growing interest to policy makers and economists and is an expending research field. To understand the complexity of sanitation challenges, social scientists usually use different type of data, which requires the mobilization of specific knowledge.

The objective of this panel is to characterize the specificities of sanitation experiences in towns and cities of the global South. It aims at developing a research agenda for analysing critically the strategies currently in place to universalize the service to all, and for apprehending the emergence of alternative models, which could also contribute to this universalization.

For this, relying on examples taken from Africa and Asia with a focus on India, we will re-read the history of sanitation models, from the western sanitary ideal of the XIX century to its segregated post-colonial effects. We will examine the cultural aspects of the taboos surrounding the sectors to explain its relegation and its societal consequences. We will critically look at centralized sanitation policies, within a broader governance framework to explain its successes and failures, and the existence of alternatives offers. Non-state actors are indeed proposing solutions to households to compensate the absence of public service, whether they be sellers of toilets, sanitary block managers or pit service providers. We will examine the reinforcement of these private and civil experiences, often informal but far from being unorganized. This will lead us to question a potential paradigm shift from a model based on conventional centralized sewer lines, towards others solutions that can be decentralized or off-grid solutions, sometimes constructed on low-cost technologies and mostly based on market logics.

What are these systems and why are they being looked at a potential solution to expand sanitation services? Who are these non-state actors implementing them? Where, and how, are they involved in the urban sanitation market? To what extent do their offers adapt to the economic conditions of households and urban dynamics in developing cities? More generally, what are the strengths and limitations of this non-public approaches? How do these initiatives contribute to the renewal of public sanitation policies?

By questioning the strengths and limitations of these systems, we wish to understand not only their contribution but also their political meaning for the expansion of a heterogeneous right to sanitation for all in an unequal city. In a final stage, we will develop a research agenda for sanitation aiming at a better articulation between public action, private sector and civil experiences. At the end of the course the students will have understood what still needs to be done in this field, as well as the limitations of survey data to study these questions and how to overcome them.

The course will combine interactive lecture sessions and tutorials over the three days. In the lecture sessions students will be exposed to the research frontier in the field of social and geographical mobility. Continue reading Workshop 1 : Urban ideals and Sanitation Experiences : toward a new research agenda