Category Archives: Themes

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  

Workshop 2 :Exclusionary Regimes and Resource Appropriation: Conceptual and Methodological dynamics  


Workshop 2: Exclusionary Regimes and Resource Appropriation:

Conceptual and Methodological Dynamics



  • Thanuja Mummidi

Anthropologist (Pondicherry University, Puducherry)

Invited Tutors:

  • Sangeeta Dasgupta

Historian (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

  • Raphaël Mathevet

Geographer (French Institute of Pondicherry, Puducherry)

  • Felix Padel

Anthropologist (Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex)

  • Jayaprakash P. Rao

Sociologist (Osmania University, Hyderabad)

  • Ravi Rebbapragada

Rural Development (Mines, Minerals & People, Vishakhapatnam)



The workshop focuses on natural resources and its spaces like the exclusionary regime (Li, 2007) but with an agenda to understand the politics of its appropriation. In this focus, the workshop will look at the indigenous populations or more specifically the scheduled tribes of India in tracing the different articulations for appropriation and thus framing the exclusionary regime. Capitalist dispossessions (nexus of the state-corporations-market) of primary resources as in land, forest and water have continued both in colonial and independent India. However, the long rhetoric of independent India for dispossession has been for the benevolence of this population under the umbrella of development. Though environmental advocacy has given leverage in resisting dispossession, the appropriation of practices of sustainability and biodiversity by the regime through articulations of ‘voluntary biodiversity off-sets’ and prefixing ‘green’ to all capitalist dispossessions have diluted this advocacy potential for the STs. The onus to counter to such articulations has long been left to the people, the voices of the dispossessed.

The workshop will explore the methodological potential in understanding the voices of the dispossessed through the framework of ‘cultural politics’ and ‘reverse anthropology’.

The workshop intends to facilitate research of young scholars working on this broad theme through the following sequence for the first two and a half days: highlighting the overlap of scheduled tribe spaces and natural resources; framing the exclusionary regime; tracing articulations of appropriation and counter articulations of the dispossessed; theoretical frames and methodological challenges: discussing political economy, political ecology, cultural politics and reverse anthropology. The second half of day three will attempt to initiate the group into a simulated research thinking over a specific research design as an outcome of the series of lectures. The concluding Day 4 is devoted to group work restitution, sharing workshop experience and results. 

Workshop 2 Schedule

9:00-9:30 Opening Speech

Introduction and objectives of the workshop

Presentation of trainers and participants

9:30-11:00 Highlighting the overlap of schedule tribe spaces and natural resources
11:00-11:15 Coffee/Tea Break
11:15-12:30 Archives and oral narratives: situating the Representation of Adivasis
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:15 Adivasis and ethnographies: evolutionary to reverse Anthropology
15:15-15:30 Coffee/Tea break
15:30-17:00 Framing the exclusionary regime
9:00-11:15 Tracing articulations of appropriation
11:15-11:30 Coffee/Tea break
11:30-12:30 Articulations of the dispossessed
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:15 Theoretical frames: political economy, political ecology, and cultural politics (how are these frames relevant and used in research on resource appropriation)
15:15-15:30 Coffee/Tea break
15:30-17:00 Theoretical frames: political economy, political ecology, and cultural politics (contd.)
9:00-10:30 Articulations of the dispossessed (contd.)
10:30-12:00 Articulations of the dispossessed-participatory video
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-18:00 Preparation of the restitution and project by participants
9:00-11:00 Group work
11:00-11:15 Coffee/Tea break
11:15-12:30 Group work
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Group work
15:30-15:45 Coffee/Tea break
15:45-18:00 Group work restitution of project

Discussion of the results and the workshops




Baviskar, Amita. 2004. In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts over Development in the Narmada Valley.   Second Edition. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Baviskar, Amita. 2008. Contested Grounds: Essays on Nature, Culture and Power. New Delhi: OUP.

Benabou, Sarah. 2014. Making Up for Lost Nature? A Critical Review of the International Development  of Voluntary Biodiversity Offsets. Environment and Society: Advances in Research 5: 103-123.

Croll, E. & D. Parkin. 1992. Anthropology, the Environment and Development. In Bush Base-Forest Farm: Culture, Environment and Development. E. Croll and D. Parkin, eds. Pp. 3-10. London: Routledge.

Dasgupta, S. and D. Rycroft. 2011. The Politics of Belonging in India: Becoming Adivasi. London and New York: Routledge.

Dasgupta, S. 2016. Reading the archive, reframing adivasi histories: An introduction. Indian Economic and Social History Review (Special Issue), Vol. 53:1, pp.1-8.

Fairhead, James, Leach, Melissa, and Ian Scoones. 2012. Green Grabbing: A New Appropriation of Nature? The Journal of Peasant Studies 39, no. 2: 237–261. doi:10.1080/03066150.2012.671770.

Ghosh, Kaushik. 2006. Between global flows and local dams: indigenousness, locality, and the transnational sphere in Jharkhand, India. Cultural Anthropology 21(4): 501-534.

Guha, Ramachandra. 1989. The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya. California: University of California Press.

Igoe, Jim, and Dan Brockington. 2007. Neoliberal Conservation: A Brief Introduction. Conservation and Society 5, no. 4: 432–449.

Igoe, Jim, Katja Neves, and Dan Brockington. 2010. A Spectacular Eco-Tour Around the Historic Bloc: Theorizing the Convergence of Biodiversity Conservation and Capitalist Expansion. Antipode 42, no. 3: 486–512. doi:0.1111/j.1467-8330.2010.00761.x.

Kirsch, Stuart. 2014. Mining Capitalism: The Relationship between Corporations and Their Critics. California: University of California Press

Kirsch, Stuart. 2006. Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Latour, Bruno.1999. Politics of Nature: how to bring science into democracy. Discovery.

Li, Tania Murray. 2010. Indigeneity, Capitalism, and the Management of Dispossession. Current Anthropology 51(3): 385– 414.

Li, Tania Murray. 2007. The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Li, Tania Murray. 2014. Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Mosse, David. 2004. Is Good Policy Unimplementable? Reflections on the Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice. Development and Change 35(4):639-671.

Mummidi, Thanuja. 2012. Coexistent and Conflicting Standards of Value: Dynamics in the Social meaning of Money among Konda Reddis, South India. The Eastern Anthropologist 65(1):81-96.

Padel, Felix. 2010 (1995). Sacrificing People: Invasions of a Tribal Landscape. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Padel, Felix. 2007. ‘Reverse anthropology’. Review of Kirsch 2006, at 

Padel, Felix. August 2012. ‘Is central India’s civil war a resource war over metals for arms?’ at

Padel, Felix. July 2014. ‘The Niyamgiri Movement as a Landmark of Democratic Process,’ Vikalpsangam, at

Padel, Felix. 2014. Interview with Survival International:   

Padel, Felix. 2015. Interview with Sanctuary Asia:

Padel, Felix, Samarendra Das. 2010. Out of this Earth: East India Adivasis & the Aluminium Cartel.  New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan.

Padel, Felix,  Ajay Dandekar, Jeemol Unni. 2013. Ecology, Economy: Quest for a Socially Informed Connection. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan.

Ramnath, Madhu. 2008. Surviving the Forest Rights Act: Between Scylla and Charybdis. Economic and Political Weekly 43(09): 37-42.

Ramnath, Madhu. 2015. Woodsmoke and Leafcups: Autobiographical footnotes to the anthropology of the Durwa. Noida: Litmus Harper Collins.

Rao, Jayaprakash. 1982. Konda Reddis in Transition: Three Case Studies. In Tribes in India: The Struggle for Survival, ed. Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf, pp. 250-286. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Robertson, Morgan. 2006. The Nature That Capital Can See: Science, State, and Market in the Commodification of Ecosystem Services. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24, no. 3:367–387. doi:0.1068/d3304.

Sundar, Nandini. 2009. Legal Grounds: Natural Resources, Identity, and the Law in Jharkhand. New Delhi: OUP.

Sundar, Nandini. 2016. The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar. Juggernaut publications.

Xaxa, Virginius. 2003. Tribes in India. The Oxford India Companion to Sociology and Social Anthropology. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Xaxa, Virginius. 1999. Tribes as Indigenous People of India. Economic and Political Weekly, vol.34, 51: 3589-3595.



Workshop 3 : Tackling Socio-environmental Issues: Stakes and Potentials of Using Geospatial Technologies  

Workshop 3 : Tackling Socio-environmental Issues:

Stakes and Potentials of Using Geospatial Technologies



  • Anne Casile

Archaeologist (IRD, PaLoc, Paris; IFP, Pondicherry)

  • Rémy Delage

Geographer (CNRS, Center for South Asian Studies, Paris)

Invited tutors:

  • Stéphanie Duvail

Geographer (IRD, PaLoc, Paris)

  • Vincent Herbreteau

Geographer (IRD, ESPACE-DEV, Paris)

  • Olivier Telle

Geographer (CNRS, Géographies-Cités, Paris)

  • Shanti Pappu 

Archaeologist ( SCHE, Chennai)

  • Kumar Akhilesh

Archaeologist ( SCHE, Chennai)



Advances in spatial technologies and spatial data infrastructures/services, and the development of digital globe browser – such as Google Earth from 2005 onwards – have been major factors in raising awareness and interest toward critical spatial and interdisciplinary thinking in many research fields. In the humanities and social sciences, the integration and spatial analysis of geographically referenced information into scientific conceptual frameworks has gained momentum over the past 10 years with the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – a computer-based technology allowing to handle and analyse spatial data – and satellite imagery freely accessible through the internet.

In recent years, the flow of information from a host of sensors has grown exponentially. Providing with a discovery, descriptive and analytical tool, the incorporation and manipulation of remotely sensed data into a GIS offer great potentials for research to document the human, natural and built system components of the earth, and to explore the complex interfaces and interactions between society and the environment in relation to a number of issues: resource management strategies and impacts, social vulnerabilities in the face of hydroclimate risks/variability/disasters, water accessibility and sustainability, water depletion, land cover and land use changes, the impacts of human activities on earth, of changing water resources on agro-ecological production systems, settlement dynamics, and so on.

Today GIS and software for image processing, pattern recognition, and scientific visualisation are in widespread use through many disciplines, especially in the environment and health related research domains, and in applied science. Yet, it appears that most students and scholars from social sciences and humanities do not know what GIS is and can do, how it can be used, what types of data can be extracted from and analysed through remotely sensed images.

The objective of this workshop is to focus on the use, potentials and limits of spatial technologies for research in the social sciences and humanities concerned with issues at the interface between water, society and environment. Highlighted with case studies taken from various disciplines, it will provide a broad introduction to basics and principles of GIS and remote sensing. The workshop is opened to students from all disciplines, who are interested in spatial analysis and willing to implement GIS, spatial technologies and approaches in their research project. The practical work will make use of free software and satellite images.

Continue reading Workshop 3 : Tackling Socio-environmental Issues: Stakes and Potentials of Using Geospatial Technologies  

Mobility and Social Dynamics – 2016

Each edition of the Winter School is based on a cross-cutting theme in the field of social sciences, taken as a guideline throughout the training workshop. For the 2016 Edition, the following theme has been chosen: “Mobility and Social Dynamics”.

See the detailed programme in Mobility and Social Dynamics 2016

The notion of “mobility” is a fruitful one to analyze, but remains a symptom of closed disciplinary boundaries as well as a black box for the social sciences. This is particularly true for South Asia where the dominant Anglo-Saxon terminology enacts an even greater cleavage between fields of study. Nevertheless one cannot dismiss the fact that mobility has become one central research topic in the social sciences. For numerous authors advocating the “Mobility Turn” (Urry 2000; Faist 2013), mobility is a post-disciplinary concept that became an interdisciplinary field of research in the social sciences.

The term “mobility” can be used in two different ways: one is spatial (e.g. migration), the other is social (e.g. upward or downward mobility). These two meanings are not exclusive of each other and can sometimes be fruitfully clubbed together, even if it is an often risky challenge and a rarely traveled path.What role has spatial mobility played in the constitution and upward social mobility of certain population categories? What impact has it had on the replication of the dominant position of some ethno-religious groups, in spite of the profound socioeconomic and political transformations South Asia has undergone over the past century? When these two objects of study are considered together, what stands out is the need to think about the complex relations between spatial and social mobility in the particular context of postcolonial societies that have entered the era of “economic emergence”.

To address first the recent destiny of spatial mobility, one can observe that since the 1990s the emergence and consolidation of the fields of diaspora, transnational and globalization studies, have significantly reshaped the conceptual and methodological frameworks of numerous disciplines. Indeed, several major research projects since early 2000s primarily or exclusively focused on figures of spatial mobility (i.e. refugees, low- and high-skilled migrant workers, cross-border migrants, etc.) and their articulations with dimensions of society (economic and political, social integration and exclusion, displacement and dispossession, gender issues, etc.) during the contemporary period. In the context of globalization, with the acceleration of exchanges, circulations and mobility on a global scale, the relations that individuals and groups entertain with the world and geographic space have evolved. Concepts and methods in social sciences had also to adapt to such new regimes of mobility while renewing their tools of analysis so as to better apprehend the new social dynamics at work. New models and paradigms emerged such as mobility systems (Urry 2000), mobile space (Retaillé 2014), regimes of mobility (Schiller and Salazar 2014), without dismissing the validity of older categories such as that of circulation (Breman 1996). In parallel, new methodological tools have been developed, such as multi-sited and mobile ethnography, visual methods, spatial and statistical analysis, mapping technologies, etc.

In the context of South Asian societies, caste, class, structure, stratification and occupational status have been the mainstay of sociological, anthropological and economic research. Research on social mobility in sociology, introduced as early as the 1930’s (Sorokin 1937) in the West, was slow to catch up in South Asia given its specificity. With time, however, social mobility research has gained ground, taking with it the mainstay concepts along with other pertinent issues of the South Asian society, such as the growing interest in understanding the roots of inequality and discrimination. Studies in inequality and social changes have then taken off rapidly in the recent years (Deaton and Dreze, 2002), fostered by the development of powerful conceptual and methodological tools, including the implementationand analysis of large-scale survey data, so that social mobility becomes nowadays one of the main areas of research in social sciences.

For this 2016 edition of the Social Sciences Winter School in Pondicherry, we propose to conduct three intensive and disciplinary workshops led by three international teams of scholars. Each of these will propose a different perspective of analysis on mobilities (mainly economics, geography, anthropology, demography) and will focus on specific techniques of investigation, quantitative and/or qualitative. Case studies from India and South Asia but also perspectives from other locations will be presented. Mobility being an interdisciplinary field of research, postgraduates and doctoral students from a variety of disciplinary and institutional backgrounds are welcomed to join one of the three workshops. This will undoubtedly foster comparative and imaginative thinking about processes of mobility, as well as a reflexive enquiry on methodologies to apprehend their form and extent.

The specific topics addressed encompass: spatial and social mobility, circulation, international migration, diaspora and the homeland, gender, survey design, data collection and analysis.