URBALTOUR “Subaltern Urbanization in Touristic Southern and Eastern Asian mountains”
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). For this, the research will be based on a two-fold methodological approach: primarily, it will build an inventory of these hill stations across Southern and Eastern Asia, using archives and remote sensing tools, coupled with statistical and cartographical processing of economic and social indicators to contextualize on-site monographies. This will enable a finer qualitative analysis of the dynamics observed, based on observations in South Asia (through the Indian and Sri Lankan cases, coordinated by IFP – French Institute of Pondicherry, in India) and in South-East Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, coordinated by our partners at IRASEC - Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia, in Bangkok, Thailand).
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. The conference also examined the issue of the perceived “acceptability” and “legitimacy” of those various inequalities. Last, but not least, it presented a few empirical studies (in various parts of India as well as in Europe) that examine the comparative evolution of those inequalities.
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. The 100th anniversary convening of the Deutsche Orientalistentag organised at the Freie Universität Berlin in September gave an occasion for reporting on developments in the project by various contributors within a panel convened by Florinda De Simini titled The History of Śaivism through Textual and Material Evidence. This included three Pondicherry members, K. Nachimuthu, T. Rajarethinam and R. Sathyanarayanan, who then went on to join a two-week workshop devoted to the reading of medieval Tamil literature in Procida (L’«Orientale», Naples).
A first volume of results from the project has also appeared from Naples this year, Śivadharmāmṛta. Essays on the Śivadharma and its Network, edited by Florinda De Simini and Csaba Kiss.