Workshop 3



  • Anne Casile

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

  • Rémy Delage

Geographer (CNRS, CEIAS, Paris) 

Invited tutors:

  • Stéphanie Duvail

Geographer (IRD, PALOC, Paris)

  • Kumar Akhilesh

Archaeologist (Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, Chennai) 

  • Vincent Herbreteau

Geographer (IRD, ESPACE-DEV, Paris)

  • Shanti Pappu

Archaeologist (Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, Chennai)

  • Olivier Telle

Geographer (CNRS, Géographies-Cités, Paris)


Advances in geospatial technologies and geospatial 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 geospatial 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.

Readings and online resources

References on GIS and remote sensing in socio-environmental sciences

Ballas D., Clarke G., Franklin R. S. and A. Newing. 2017. GIS and the Social Sciences: Theory and Applications, Routledge.

Bishop, W. and T. H. Grubesic. 2016. Geographic Information: Organization, Access, and Use, Springer.

Bodenhamer, D. J., J. Corrigan and T. M. Harris, Eds. 2010. The Spatial Humanities: GIS and The Future of Humanities Scholarship, Indiana University Press.

Brondizio, E. and R. R. Chowdhury. 2010. Spatiotemporal Methodologies in Environmental Anthropology: Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Landscape Changes, and Local Knowledge. Environmental Social Sciences: Methods and Research Design. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 266-298.

Leauthaud, C., S. Duvail, G. Belaud, R. Moussa, O. Grünberger and J. Albergel. 2012. Floods and Wetlands: Combining a Water-Balance Model and Remote-Sensing Techniques to Characterize Hydrological Processes of Ecological Importance in the Tana River Delta (Kenya). Hydrology & Earth System Sciences Discussions 9(10).

Gregory, I. N. and A. Geddes, Eds. 2014. Toward Spatial Humanities: Historical GIS and Spatial History, Indiana University Press.

Longley, P. 2005. Geographic Information Systems and Science. Chichester, West Sussex, John Wiley & Sons.

Masini, N. and F. Soldovieri. 2017. Sensing The Past: From Artifact to Historical Site, Springer.

Mialhe, F., Y. Gunnell and C. Mering. 2008. Synoptic Assessment of Water Resource Variability in Reservoirs by Remote Sensing: General Approach and Application to the Runoff Harvesting Systems of South India. Water Resources Research 44(5).

Okabe, A., Ed. 2006. GIS-based Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, CRC Press.

Pappu S., Akhilesh K., Ravindranath S., Raj U. 2010. Applications of satellite remote sensing for research and heritage management in Indian prehistory. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(9): 2316-2331.

Tran, A., D. Kassié and V. Herbreteau. 2016. Applications of Remote Sensing to the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases: Some Examples. Land Surface Remote Sensing: Environment and Risks. N. Baghdadi and M. Zribi, Elsevier: 295-315.

Links to tutorials online

Links to spatial imageries, maps, GIS data source, geoportals

Methodological approaches in social sciences

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search