Māhātmyas — Praising the genius of place EFEO


By Dominic Goodall, ÉFEO

Stretching back over more than a millennium, there is a truly vast literature of texts that extol holy places, recounting myths that “explain” their origins and idiosyncrasies and commending the benefits of worshipping in this or that particular shrine, or of bathing at astrologically auspicious moments in this or that particular water-body. This voluminous genre of works, which may be in Sanskrit verse and presented as belonging to particular Purāṇas, but which may also be in other languages, has not often been the focus of scholarly studies, but this has begun to change. A recent Pondicherry monograph by Peter Bisschop, for instance, has brought a neglected twelfth-century eulogy of Benares to light: the Vārāṇasī-māhātmya (Collection Indologie 148). As that book demonstrates, such eulogies of sacred sites may be full of information about historical topography and religious practice, and they are to be a focus of two new projects in which the Pondicherry Centre of the EFEO is involved.

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URBALTOUR “Subaltern Urbanization in Touristic Southern and Eastern Asian mountains” IFP

IFP Focus 2-700x365CAPTION

The recent pandemic has highlighted the attractiveness of medium-sized urban areas with good environmental quality, such as hill stations. The IFP is launching a new project called URBALTOUR “Subaltern Urbanization in Touristic Southern and Eastern Asian mountains” (funded by ANR, January 2022-December 2024) which will analyse the convergences between urban and tourist dynamics, looking at hill stations in South Asia and South-East Asian. The URBALTOUR project aims at offering better perspectives on the diversity of urbanization across the world through the tourism phenomenon in hill stations. URBALTOUR will contribute theoretically to urban studies by enriching the concept of “subaltern urbanization” (Mukhopadhyay, Zérah and Denis, 2020 ; Roy, 2011).

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Challenging Inequalities CSH Delhi

The Centre de Sciences Humaines in a joint project CHALLINEQ with the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research, The Economic and Social Research Council, The Agence Nationale de la Recherche and The Research Council of Norway, organized a 2-days conference on Challenging Inequalities from the 14th to the 16th September 2022 at the University of Aix-Marseille School of Economics in France. This multidisciplinary research project, which involves academic institutions from France, the UK, Norway and India, analyses the challenges that inequality in the human condition poses to both India and Europe. One of the issues examined by this conference was that of the very meaning of the notion of inequality when it concerns multiple and not easily measurable attributes such as health, education, opportunities, wealth, and income that intersect with each other.

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Śivadharma corpus EFEO

The work on the Śivadharma corpus (ERC Grant N°803624) — long sustained in Pondicherry only by online reading groups devoted to the study of the editions and translations of chapters of the seventh-century Sanskrit text of the Śivadharmottara and of its sixteenth-century Tamil “translation”, the Civatarumottaram — was given a filip by the visit of Florinda De Simini (Naples) and Margherita Trento (EHESS) in July. This also allowed for a field-trip to the Śaiva monastery of Tiruvāvaṭutuṟai to view and photograph palm-leaf manuscripts there that we had identified at the beginning of 2020, but been unable to return to. We also visited nearby temples to search for allusions to the Śivadharma in inscriptions spotted there a hundred years ago, but that seem, alas, no longer identifiable.

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Circular economy and rural livelihoods in Auroville EFEO


Circular Economy (CE) has gained increased attention among scholars and practitioners, largely owing to mainstream business and policymaking perspectives put forward by the European Commission and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In the literature, CE is depicted as a combination of reduce, reuse, and recycle practices aimed at shifting current production and consumption patterns at large while lessening the impact of industrial activities on our ecosystems.

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Digitization of 2 Private Manuscripts Collections for “Endangered Archives“

The pilot project 'Preservation of two private collections of palm leaf manuscripts from Tamil country for posterity', led by Suganya Anandakichenin, Giovanni Ciotti and S.A.S. Sarma, under the British Library's Endangered Archives Program, supported by the Arcadia Fund, launched in August 2022 has been successfully completed. Ramesh, S. Venkatarajan and D. Murugesan cleaned and digitised about 180 manuscripts belonging to two collections (named "Kalliṭaikuṟicci" and Villiampākkam) while Akane Saito, S. Saravanan, M. Prathik and Suganya Anandakichenin catalogued these manuscripts.

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Kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘, Prescription and Practice in a Martial Art of Kerala

Lucy May Constantini, doctoral candidate of the Open University, UK, came to India in March and divided her stay between Kerala and the EFEO in Pondicherry, where she pursued her project “Practice and Text in the South Indian Martial Art Kaḷarippayaṟr˘: confluence, contradiction, evolution”.

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Atlas of Gender and Health Inequalities in India. CSH Delhi

India’s progresses on the health front are impressive, with steady improvements in most health and demographic indicators. At the same time, these transformations lay bare the inequality observed across the country and the increasing disparities between social groups and regions. The recent rounds of National Family and Health Surveys (NFHS) provides district-level data that now can help us delineate the regional contours of India’s transformations. Following an exploratory workshop held at the CSH in 2020, a team of about 30 researchers directed by CZ Guilmoto (CSH) and Nandita Saikia (IIPS, Mumbai) is working on an Atlas of Gender and Health in India providing the first disaggregated picture of the health and gender.

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Dynamics of Muslim Representation: The social space of Muslim spokespersons in India

Who speaks for Muslims in India? What is the background of the leaders of Muslim organizations? What is their relation to state authorities? To address these questions, we have collected the biographies of the leaders of fifteen organizations that make representative claims in the name of Indian Muslims or that aim to act as intermediaries between state authorities and the “community”. Through the statistical treatment of this data (multiple correspondence analysis and hierarchical clustering on principal components), we seek to delineate the contours of the social space of Muslim spokespersons by bringing together a wide range of actors whose social profile and internal relations have not been examined previously. We further seek to highlight the patterns and networks within the “Muslim leadership”—notably concerning the on-going importance of ascriptive characteristics such as caste. Our study thus provides clear evidence for the continuing hold of Ashraf groups over positions of power in organizations that claim to represent Muslims.

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Wealth Inequality and Elites in India

Following an initial country workshop in India in September 2021, this comparative project spanning South Africa, Brazil and India intends to reveal what drives wealth inequality in the Global South, and how it can be addressed with an approach using a political economy and multidisciplinary frame. The study was originally commissioned by the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS) of the University of Witwatersrand and is supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The Wealth and Inequality Research group based in India is coordinated by Surinder Jodhka and Vamsi Vakulabharanam.

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Action on the collections of the Department of Ecology IFP

Two students and an intern at the IFP Palynology Laboratory have been studying the reference phytolith collection this summer under the mentoring of Doris Barboni. Gayathri Rajendiran, Uma Maheshwari, and Sananda Dector are currently preparing three articles for a special issue of the Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology on phytoliths in Asia. This collection is built from the IFP herbarium thanks to the efforts of G. Orukaimani, and today, it allows testing the taxonomic potential of phytoliths of more than 500 species.

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GLOBALSMOG - Tackling Air Pollution in the Cities of the Global South

Air pollution is a global environmental and health problem. Urban dwellers in the Global South bear most of this burden. 97% of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants in Low and Middle Income Countries do not comply with WHO air quality guidelines. While the knowledge on ambient air contamination sources, population exposure, effects on health and the environment has improved over the past twenty years, this progress has hardly been matched by similar advancement in our understanding of how air pollution is conceptualized and addressed on the policy side.

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Archiving Tamil Fish Workers in Print

Funded by the Modern Endangered Archives Program (MEAP) at UCLA Library, the project will be hosted at IFP from October 2022, for a year. This project will collect and document magazines and booklets published since the 1960s representing the history of fishing communities in Tamil Nadu. These publications speak to the unique moment where ideas of fisher unity and political solidarity emerged into the public sphere. The collection serves to trace the history, community life, occupational experiences, and traditional knowledge from fisher perspectives.

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Online International Workshop “Inside and outside ‘ordinary city’ margins” IFP

Loraine Kennedy co-hosted with Karen Coelho, Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), an online international workshop, “Inside and outside ‘ordinary city’ margins”, on January 27th, 2022. It was co-organized by Urban Studies Foundation (USF) and MIDS, Chennai. This virtual workshop brought four USF International Fellows together to exchange their research and engage with India-based urban scholars. It also provided an opportunity for a group of young Fellows from the Writing Urban India initiative, supported by the USF, to share their work in an international setting. Grounded in ‘ordinary cities’ of the global South, in Brazil, India, Nigeria, and the Philippines, the research conducted by this group of International Fellows critically engages with the notion of urban boundaries and their attendant questions of sovereignty, social justice and marginalization.

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At the École française d'Extrême-Orient EFEO

A hybrid two-day workshop, organised by Indra Manuel, was held in honour of Prof. K. Nachimuthu, to commemorate his seventy-fifth birthday, at the EFEO Centre in Pondicherry on 29th and 30th August. Twenty-one contributors — from the universities of Chicago, Hamburg, Heidelberg and Naples, the UK’s Open University, and of course from Pondicherry —delivered papers. The subjects were chosen to reflect Prof. Nachimuthu’s broad range of interests over the years, notably grammar, linguistics, poetics, and South Indian cultural and religious history.

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Engaging with categories in South Asia: processes, challenges, implications CSH Delhi

A team of 7 PhD students organized, for the Association des Jeunes Études Indiennes (AJEI), this three-day workshop (21st - 23rd of April 2022) with support from CSH, IFP, Centre for Policy Research (CPR), École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and GIS Asie.

This hybrid workshop focused on the production and uses of categories in research. It fostered a dialogue between young researchers involved in South Asian studies across five countries—namely India, France, the UK, Australia, and Singapore. 18 Master's and PhD students presented a paper on their work, 6 professors discussed them and approximately 50 people attended the workshop every day and took part in the collective discussions.

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At the French Institute of Pondicherry IFP

Marine Frantz, a PhD candidate in urban geography (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France), joined the Social Sciences Department in February 2022. Her research focuses on the dynamics of periurbanisation around the city of Pondicherry and other rural areas of Tamil Nadu, through the conversion of farmland to residential plots.

Jenni Balasubramanian is a Postdoctoral researcher from University of La Réunion, working on INTERREG project titled “PaTRIM-OI Cultural heritage in the Indian Ocean, from global to local: Tanzania, Reunion, India, Mauritius”. She is affiliated to the Social Sciences Department from August 2022. Her research focuses on the Indian indentured labourers from Madras Presidency to La Reunion which aims at understanding the Indentured system from the Indian perspective.

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At the École française d'Extrême-Orient EFEO

In January and February, M.N. Muralikrishnan, Rinni K. Jayan, Ushus Uniikrishnan, and Sreeja M.S. joined the British Library Major Project EAP 1304 directed by Hugo David entitled “Palm-leaf manuscripts from the Śaṅkaran monastic institutions of Kerala”.

Cansu Gurkaya, doctoral student of the Centre d'Études de l'Inde et de l'Asie du Sud, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, arrived in February 2022 with an allocation de terrain from the EFEO and funding from the CEIAS and LabEx TEPSIS to spend 8 months in India working on her research project on Sustainable development in Auroville, a universal city in the making in south-India dedicated to the ideal of human unity.

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At the Centre de Sciences Humaines CSH Delhi

Joël Cabalion, is an associate professor at Tours University, and a researcher in sociology and anthropology at the CSH. He joined in September 2022. HIs research focuses since 2004 on issues of displacement and resettlement in the context of large infrastructural works in Central India, grounded in a longitudinal and ethnographic perspective using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Baishakh Chakrabarti, is a postdoctoral fellow at CSH. He joined in September 2022. He is a historian specializing in economic, financial and community histories in late nineteenth and early twentieth century India. He has recently completed his PhD from the South Asia Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania.

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At the École française d'Extrême-Orient EFEO

Franklin Taagore, who has been working as a clerk at the Pondicherry Centre of the EFEO since 1972, retired on 1 June 2022, after a service of 50 years !

Marzenna Czerniak-Drożdżowicz, from the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland, left in March after a stay at the EFEO in Pondicherry for her research on Cultural ecosystem of textual traditions from pre-modern South India and for work with Dr. R. Sathyanarayanan on their critical edition and translation of Śrīraṅgamāhātmya. Her trip was financed by the National Science Centre, Poland.

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At the Centre de Sciences Humaines CSH Delhi

Samuel Benkimoun, a Ph.D. student in Geography at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris, France), under Dr. Eric Denis and Dr. Olivier Telle, and is a member of the joint research unit Géographies-Cités and the CSH. His research interests focus on urban geography, health issues, and spatial analysis methods. He stayed at CSH between July 2021 till July 2022 as a doctoral student. Before he worked as scientific secretary for two years (between March 2019 till February 2021).

Caterina Guenzi, is an associate professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and a member of the CEIAS (Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, EHESS-CNRS, Paris). She worked at the CSH as a senior researcher between October 2021 till August 2022. She has conducted a study on the “Karmavipākasaṃhitā, an early modern Sanskrit treatise on infertility, karma and astrology” in Chandigarh.

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At the French Institute of Pondicherry IFP

Raphaël Voix, anthropologist and senior research fellow at the CNRS, completed a three-years delegation at IFP’s Department of Social Sciences in August 2022. He worked on the Institutionalisation of Yoga in contemporary India.

David Picherit, anthropologist at CNRS, left the Department of Social Sciences at the end of a three years delegation in September 2022. He will join the Laboratoire d'Ethnologie and Sociologie Comparative (Paris Nanterre) and remains an associate-member at the IFP.

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The Émile Sénart Prize of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, which rewards work in the field of Indology, was awarded this year to Hugo David for his book Une philosophie de la parole: l'Enquête sur la Connaissance Verbale (Śābdanirṇaya) by Prakāśātman, maître Advaitin du Xe siècle, published in 2020 by the Presses de l’EFEO, Paris.

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IFP Editions


Native Bees and Pollination in the Puducherry Bioregion. Written & Edited by Ammel Sharon ; Project & Scientific Coordination K. Anupama & H. Guétat-Bernard ; Inputs Ecology S. Prasad, J. Lazar, A. Indhu ; Social Science Amuthavalluvan V. & F. Landy ; Geomatics Narpavi, S. & J. Andrieu ; Economics N. Gallai ; Illustrator Kiran Joan ; Book Design Gopinath Sricandane, Science&Society n˚1, Institut Français de Pondichéry, 2022, 55 p. With IFI’s Bureau du Livre support. In English, Tamil version under preparation.

Full-text PDF available here: https://www.ifpindia.org/bookstore/ss1/

The paper copy is available for sale. 200 Rs (10 €).


The Keerai Project : Leafy Greens in the Food Culture of Puducherry and its Bioregion. By Hélène Guétat-Bernard, Brigitte Sébastia & Balachandran Natesan ; Co-Authored, Designed and Illustrated by Thaniya Kanaka Mahalakshmi S, Science&Society n˚2, Institut Français de Pondichéry, 2022, 74 p. With IFI’s Bureau du Livre and Nabard bank support. In English, Tamil version under preparation.

Full-text PDF available here: https://www.ifpindia.org/bookstore/ss2/

The paper copy is available for sale. 300 Rs (14 €).

IFP/EFEO Editions


The Amṛtasiddhi and Amṛtasiddhimūla. The Earliest Texts of the Haṭhayoga Tradition. Critically edited and translated by James Mallinson and Péter-Dániel Szántó, Collection Indologie n˚ 150, Institut Français de Pondichéry / Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, 2021, 203 p.

Language: Sanskrit, English. 500 Rs (19 €). ISBN: 978-81-8470-242-2 (IFP) / 978-2-85539-245-5 (EFEO)

Order from IFP: https://www.ifpindia.org/bookstore/ci150/

Order from EFEO: https://publications.efeo.fr/en/livres/966_the-am-tasiddhi-and-am-tasiddhim-la


Vaiyākaraṇasiddhāntabhūṣaṇam. The Vaiyākaraṇasiddhāntabhūṣaṇa of Kauṇḍabhaṭṭa with the Nirañjanī commentary by Ramyatna Shukla and Prakāśa explanatory notes by K.V. Ramakrishnamacharyulu. Part IV (from Śaktinirṇaya to Sphoṭavāda). Critically edited by K.V. Ramakrishnamacharyulu, Collection Indolgie n˚151 / Shree Somnath Sanskrit University Shastra Grantha series n˚ 8, Institut Français de Pondichéry / Shree Somnath Sanskrit University / Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, 2022, xxxv, xxxv, 829 p.

Language: Sanskrit, English. 2000 Rs (64 €). ISBN: 978-81-8470-243-9 (IFP) / 978-93-83097-49-4 (SSSU) / 978-2-85539-258-5 (EFEO)

Order from IFP: https://www.ifpindia.org/ci151/

Order from EFEO: https://publications.efeo.fr/en/livres/968_vaiy-karan-asiddh-ntabh-s-an-am


Mélanges à la mémoire de Pandit N. R. Bhatt / Studies in Memory of Pandit N. R. Bhatt. Edited by Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat, Dominic Goodall, Peter Pasedach, Collection Indolgie n˚152, Institut Français de Pondichéry / Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, 2022, xxiv, 497 p.

Language: English, French. 1200 Rs (40 €). ISBN: 978-81-8470-244-6 (IFP) / 978-2-85539-246-2 (EFEO)

Order from IFP: https://www.ifpindia.org/bookstore/ci152/

Order from EFEO: https://publications.efeo.fr/en/livres/972_melanges-a-la-memoire-de-pandit-n-r-bhatt-studies-in-memory-of-pandit-n-r-bhatt


The East Mebon Stele Inscription from Angkor (K. 528). A Sanskrit Eulogy of the tenth-century Khmer Sovereign Rājendravarman. [By] Dominic Goodall, Collection Indologie n˚154, Institut Français de Pondichéry / Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, 2022, 331 p.

Language: English, Sanskrit. 900 Rs (30 €). ISBN: 978-81-8470-246-0 (IFP); 978-2-85539-260-8 (EFEO)

Order from IFP: https://www.ifpindia.org/bookstore/ci154/

Chapters in books


AL DAHDAH M., FERRY M., GUÉRIN I., VENKATASUBRAMANIAN G., 2022. India in COVID-19: A Tragedy Foretold. Columbia University Press. In: The Long Year: A 2020 Reader, ISBN: 9780231204538

GANESAN T., 2022. Mokṣa and its means in Śaivasiddhānta, In: Jha P. (ed.). Tattvabodha : essays from the lecture series of the National Mission for Manuscripts. Vol VIII, National Mission for Manuscripts, New Delhi, pp. 151-168, ISBN: 978-81-904029-4-3.

GOREAU-PONCEAUD A., LANG, N., 2022. Le festival de Ganesh à Paris: cohabitations, négociations et controverses. In: Dejean F. and A. Germain (ed.) Se faire une place dans la cité. La participation des groupes religieux à la vie urbaine, Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, pp. 147-160, ISBN: 978-2-7606-4549-3.


DAVID, Hugo, 2021. “Action Theory and Scriptural Exegesis in Early Advaita-Vedānta (3): Maṇḍana Miśra on Ontology, Time and Commandment.” In: V. Eltschinger, B. Kellner, E. Mills & I. Ratié (eds.), A Road Less Traveled. Felicitation Volume in Honor of John Taber, Vienna, Arbeitskreis für tibetische und buddhistische Studien, Universität Wien, 2021 (Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde), pp. 37-94.

GOODALL, Dominic, 2022. “On mantrasaṃhitā, śivaikadaśikā and related expressions: A note on awareness of mantras of the Mantramārga in the Śivadharma corpus" In: Florinda Simini and Csaba Kiss (eds.), Śivadharmāmṛta. Essays on the Śivadharma and its Network, Studies on the History of Śaivism II. Napoli: UniorPress, 2021, pp. 61-71.


Paul, Richard E., Olivier Telle, and Samuel Benkimoun. 2022. “Integrating Social Sciences to Mitigate Against Covid”. Pp. 47–71 in Socio-Life Science and the COVID-19 Outbreak. Public Health and Public Policy, Economics, Law, and Institutions in Asia Pacific, edited by M. Yano, F. Matsuda, A. Sakuntabhai, and S. Hirota. Springer Singapour.

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Social Sciences Winter School in Pondicherry IFP


The 6th edition of the IFP Social Sciences Winter School in Pondicherry will be held at UMISARC (Pondicherry University) from November 28 to December 2, 2022. This year's edition is on "Rethinking inequalities". This Winter School is open to Doctoral and Master Students of all fields in social sciences. Trainees from various disciplinary backgrounds have been selected and researchers from Indian universities as well as from abroad, will provide trainings in 3 workshops: – Spatial and Environmental Inequalities in Indian cities – Economic Inequalities and Sustainability – Interrogating and Narrating Inequalities, Youth Anxieties and Aspirations in India Today.

Contact: Bertrand Lefebvre, IFP, bertrand [dot] lefebvre [at] ifpindia [dot] org

For more information: https://winterspy.hypotheses.org/india

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At the École française d'Extrême-Orient EFEO

As part of the “French Rendez-Vous” festival, a Baroque Music Concert was given by the Pondicherry Flute Ensemble in the Library Hall of the Centre on Sunday 9th April.

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CSH and Alliance Française (Delhi) Screening and Debates

For the first session of this series on the theme of migrations, we have screened on the 22 March Nicolas Jaoul’s film: BARIZ (Paris) Street Camp Days (Bariz, Le temps des campements, 2020). The debate was moderated by Nandini Sundar, professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economics.

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