Bio data of the Experts: Social Sciences Winter School 2016


Venkatesh Balasundaram Athreya has made a remarkable contribution to the growth of Department of Economics at Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli where he served from 1977 to 2008 when he retired. He has also held faculty positions/Fellowships/Visiting Scholarships in a number of reputed academic institutions in India and abroad. These include the University of Wisconsin and Bucknell University in the USA, Oxford University and the University of Cambridge in UK, Lund University in Sweden, the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies in Copenhagen, IIT, Chennai, MIDS, Chennai and CDS, Thiruvananthapuram. He has written over a hundred research papers including several research reports and monographs. He has authored/coauthored five books. He has been actively involved in the areas of gender, literacy and development as both planner and social activist. He has won a number of awards and honours, the most recent one being the Distinguished Achievement Award for Political Economy in the 21st Century by the World Association of Political Economy in May 2014.


Tristan Bruslé is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Himalayan Studies of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), currently based at the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH, New Delhi). His PhD dissertation in human geography (2006) examined temporary Nepalese migrations to India, processes and integration. In the research project TerrFerme (financed by the French National Research Agency), he got interested in labour migration from Nepal to the Gulf, with a special focus on lodging patterns and the multiple ways workers’ lives are controlled. As part of other projects he has also studied the Nepalese diaspora in Assam and developed a comprehensive analysis of the Nepalese digital diaspora through the study of websites and their interconexions. As a member of a running research project (TerreEau) focusing on peasantry, his current research addresses the impact of labour outmigration on sending communities in the Nepalese lowlands (Terai), especially regarding land ownership.


Rémy Delage is a Research Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies (CEIAS-EHESS, Paris) of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). His work focuses on the role of religious circulations (processions, pilgrimages, journeys) in structuring places and territorial belonging in India and Pakistan. After a PhD centred on an in-depth study of a Hindu mass religious gathering in South India, he joined the French Interdisciplinary Study Group on Sindh (MIFS), headed by Dr. Michel Boivin. It provided him with the opportunity to develop, within a multidisciplinary team of researchers, an ambitious project looking at processes of social and religious changes in one of the most important Sufi pilgrimage centres in contemporary Pakistan. Dr. Delage published with Dr. Michel Boivin an edited book Devotional Islam in Contemporary South Asia: Shrines, Journeys and Wanderers (Routledge, London, 2016), and recently co-edited with Mathieu Claveyrolas Religion and its Territories in South Asia and Beyond. Traversing, Performing, Overstepping (EHESS Editions, Paris, forthcoming in late 2016).

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Workshop 1: Documenting Processes of Spatial Mobility: Qualitative and Ethnographic Approaches

Workshop 1 : Documenting Processes of Spatial Mobility: Qualitative and Ethnographic Approaches


  • Dr Rémy Delage : Geographer (Centre for South Asian Studies, CNRS-EHESS, Paris / IFP, Pondicherry)
  • Dr Aurélie Varrel : Geographer (IFP, Pondicherry / Centre for South Asian Studies, CNRS-EHESS, Paris)

Invited Tutors:

  • Dr Tristan Bruslé : Geographer (CSH, New Delhi / Centre for Himalayan Studies, CNRS, Paris)
  • Prof. Mohammed Abdul Kalam : (Dept. of Sociology, Tezpur University, Tezpur, Assam)
  • Dr Marie Percot : Anthropologist (Paris)

Argument-Purpose : This workshop focuses on the theory and practice of ethnographic fieldwork in South Asia and beyond, primarily discussing conceptual and methodological issues regarding the observation, description and analysis of various types of spatial mobilities (daily commuting, seasonal migration, international labour migration, etc.). The paradigm of the opposition between society of departure (homeland) and host society (hostland) being outdated, it is rather in terms of continuity and not rupture with the society of origin that we reason.

While drawing some concepts and innovative tools drawn from French human geography and Anglo-Saxon migration studies, our aim is to provide students with an intensive training course presenting theories, concepts and ethnographic research methods relating to mobility (Day 1). Mobility is not only envisaged as a research object, but also as a fluid process and as an efficient method of investigation, within a network of interlinked field sites. Indeed, historians, anthropologists and geographers share a common method for apprehending migration processes and describing transnational networks, that is the multi-sited and mobile/itinerant ethnography, as introduced and popularized by George Marcus (1995), brilliantly debated, critiqued and practiced by Alessandro Monsutti (2010), and well synthesized by Ester Gallo (2009), Karen O’Reilly (2009) and Novoa (2015), among others. Various case studies focusing on South Asia and diasporic contexts will then complement and illustrate the formal training (Day 2). The third day of the workshop will take the form of a collaborative session between scholars and students during which a research topic will be chosen and defined, developed and finalized into a formal research proposal while using the concepts and methods taught during the first two days (Day 3).

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Workshop 2: Using Survey Data to Understand Social and Geographical Mobility

Workshop 2:  Using Survey Data to Understand Social and Geographical Mobility


  • Dr Christophe Jalil Nordman – Economist (IRD, DIAL and IFP, Pondicherry)

Invited Tutors:

  • Prof. Aswhini Deshpande – Economist (Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi)
  • Dr Véronique Gille – Economist (IRD, DIAL, France)
  • Prof. Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay – Economist (Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi)
  • Dr Jean-Noël Senne – Economist (Université Paris-Sud, France)

Argument-purpose: Social and geographical mobility is of growing interest to policy makers and economists and is an expending research field. Economists usually use survey data to understand the determinants and the extent of social and geographical mobility. The analysis of data on social and geographical mobility requires the mobilization of specific knowledge.

In this proposed workshop, trainees will be introduced to the state-of-the-art in social and geographical mobility. The main objective of the course is to review what we know about mobility and what the open questions in this field are. 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 be spread over three days. It will combine interactive lecture sessions and tutorials. In the lecture sessions students will be exposed to the research frontier in the field of social and geographical mobility. In the tutorial they will be using the statistical software STATA to analyse survey data on social and geographical mobility. The empirical application will be using the longitudinal village level study from Palanpur (India).
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Workshop 3: Social Mobility in its Indian Complexity: Conceptual and Methodological Dynamics

Workshop 3:  Social Mobility in its Indian Complexity: Conceptual and Methodological Dynamics


  • Dr. Thanuja Mummidi – Anthropologist (Pondicherry University)

Invited Tutors:

  • Prof. Partha N. Mukherjee – Sociologist
  • Prof. D.N. Dhanagare – Sociologist
  • Prof. Venkatesh Athreya – Economist
  • Dr. Alexandra De Heering – Historian

Argument-Purpose: Caste, class, structure, stratification and status have been the  mainstay   of sociological/social anthropological research on Indian society. Research on social mobility introduced as early as the 1930’s (Sorokin, 1937) in the west was slow to catch up in India in its given specificity. This specificity lies in the challenge of disentangling the mainstay concepts. With time social mobility research in India has progressed taking into consideration new dimensions of inequality. Consequently, social mobility research both from the conceptual and methodological aspects is made dynamic. This workshop hopes to encourage and orient a young generation of research scholars to probe this dynamism.

The workshop follows the following sequence: Day 1 is devoted exclusively to methodology of social science. Day 2 and part of Day 3 follows up with methodological and substantive research and issues in social mobility research specific to India. Day 3 also attempts to initiate the group into thinking over specific research designs as an outcome of the series of lectures. The concluding Day 4 is devoted to Group Work Restitution, sharing workshop experience and results.

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