Workshop 1



  • Rémy Delage

Geographer (CNRS, CEIAS, Paris)

  • Aurélie Varrel

Geographer (IFP, Puducherry; CEIAS)

Invited tutors:

  • Tristan Bruslé

Geographer (CNRS, CSH, New Delhi; Centre for Himalayan Studies)

  • Mohammed Abdul Kalam

Anthropologist (Tezpur University, Tezpur)

  • Marie Percot

Anthropologist (Institut Interdisciplinaire d’Anthropologie du Contemporain, IIAC-LAUM, Paris)


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 The paradigm of the opposition between society of departure (homeland) and host society (hostland) being outdated, it is rather in terms of continuity and not rupture with the society of origin that we reason.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).

Readings and online resources

Bruslé, T. and Varrel, A. eds. (2012), Revisiting space and place: South Asian migrations in perspective, South Asia Multidisciplinary Journal, 6.

Faist, T. (2013), “The Mobility Turn: a New Paradigm for the Social Sciences?”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(11), pp. 1637-1646.

Gallo, E. (2009), “In the Right Place at the Right Time? Reflections on Multi-Sited Ethnography in the Age of Migration”, in M.-A. Falzon (ed.), Multi-Sited Ethnography. Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research, Farnham: Ashgate, pp.87-102.

Green, N. (2003), “Migrant Sufis and Sacred Space in South Asian Islam”, Contemporary South Asia, 12(4), pp. 493-509.

Levitt, P. and N. Glick Schiller (2004), “Conceptualizing Simultaneity: A Transnational Social Field Perspective on Society”, International migration review, 38(3), pp.1002-1039.

Ma Mung, E. (2004), “Dispersal as a Resource”, Diaspora: a Journal of Transnational Studies, 13(2-3), pp. 211-225.

Mandaville, P. (2001), Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma, London: Routledge.

Markovits, C., Pouchepadass, J. and Subrahmanyam, S. (2003), “Introduction: Circulation and Society under Colonial Rule”, in C. Markovits, J. Pouchepadass and S. Subrahmanyam (eds.), Society and Circulation: Mobile People and Itinerant Cultures in South Asia, 1750-1950, Delhi: Permanent Black, pp. 1-22.

Monsutti, A. (2010), “The Contribution of Migration Studies and Transnationalism to the Anthropological Debate: A Critical Perspective”, in C. Audebert and K. Doraï (eds.), Migration in a Globalised World: New Research Issues and Prospects, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press (IMISCOE Research), pp. 107-125.

Novoa, A. (2015), “Mobile ethnography: emergence, techniques, and its importance to Geography”, Human Geographies – Journal of Studies and Research in Human Geography, 9(1), pp. 97-107.

O’Reilly, K. (2009), Key Concepts in Ethnography. London: SAGE Publications.

Rajan, I. S. and Percot, M. eds. (2011), Dynamics of Indian Migration. Historical and Current Perspectives, New Delhi: Routledge.

Retaillé, D. and Walther, O. (2014), New Ways of Conceptualizing Space and Mobility: Lessons from the Sahel to the Globalized World, CEPS/INSTEAD, Working Paper n° 2012-24.

Samaddar, R. (1999), Marginal Nation – Trans-border Migration from Bangladesh to India, New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Schiller, N. G. and Salazar, N. B. (2013), “Regimes of Mobility Across the Globe, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39(2), pp. 183-200.

Upadhya, C. (2008), “Ethnographies of the Global Information Economy: Research Strategies and Methods”, Economic and Political Weekly, 43, pp.64-72.

Urry, J. (2000), Sociology beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-First Century, London: Routledge.

Vertovec, S. (2000), The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns, London and New York: Routledge.

Methodological approaches in social sciences

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