2019 – Heritage, Communities, Sustainibility


The major thread of this 2019 edition will be to address issues at the interface between Heritage, Communities, and Sustainability through the lens of social sciences, with different thematic focus, scales of interpretation, theoretical questioning and methodological frameworks, and in interaction with various stakeholders. Heritage, Community, Sustainability as distinct and overlapping interdisciplinary fields of research intersect in a number of disciplines of science. These concepts in general, suggest a preoccupation with memory, preservation and modes of expression of the people. Interrogating heritage, along with communities, while engaging with visions of sustainability, is a way to engage with the possibility of creating “living” archives. And in it lies the hope to create renewed relationship between science and society.

“Living” archives, as both material and immaterial, are vectors of knowledge, memories, identities, practices, conveyed through diverse modes of expressions which are grounded in hierarchies of economic and social life of a people. They are also vectors of power and domination, lending themselves to be appropriated, controlled and render current exercise of hegemony possible. How to refer to archives as “living” archives constantly evolving? Could we reimagine the archive to assist counter-hegemonic practices of the marginalised people? This might require a critical reading of scholarly practices and their orientation. To realign these practices with the marginalised and help reimagine the objectives and practices of sustainable futures could also draw upon initiatives, which have worked toward alternative forms of the relationship between science and society.

From a theoretical perspective, such ambition has been part of various debates. From a methodological point of view, collaborative research, participatory and community-based research practices count among several academic initiatives, to build and implement research protocols in close relation with the people. Both in the fields of archives, heritage conservation and in the production of history, dominant and often homogenous visions of the past have been questioned, with the aid of different techniques and theories. Perspectives of science which will consider processes of making consent and dissent, needs of a people to reimagine histories and practices to shape probable futures along with its contingent struggles and constraints would constitute the common areas of reflection for all the participants of the Social Sciences Winter School in Pondicherry. In a context of rapid global changes and claim for a sustainable future, the emergence of critical heritage studies implies too taking in consideration the changing relations between societies and their natural environment, as much as their relation to the fabric of their heritages.

This year, the objectives of the Winter School will be to expose students to research frontiers between Heritage, Communities and Sustainability in interaction with various stakeholders. Three different workshops will pull different threads of the knotting between Heritage, Communities, and Sustainability issues, while focusing on archives, histories, knowledge, and conservation, and mobilising different approaches and disciplines across the social sciences.

Following the framework of the past editions, the Social Sciences Winter School will be organised according to three complementary axes:

(a) Training in plenary sessions at the beginning of the school: presentations will introduce different thematic and methodological facets of research and field practices.

(b) Three thematic workshops lasting four days will address issues at the interface between Heritage, Communities, and Sustainability from various cross-cutting angles, focusing on archives as living cultural practices (workshop 1), the process and meanings of rewriting-reconstructing histories (workshop 2), and gendered local knowledge and the conservation of biodiversity in agroecology (workshop 3).

(c) Restitution, discussions, exchanges: participants of each workshop will work on a research design as a group based on the four days of training and make their presentation.

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