Circular economy and rural livelihoods in Auroville EFEO

Women carrying provender pots decorated with Neem leaves, as part of the worship of the goddess on Fridays in the month of Āḍi. Photo © C. John Degler.

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. However, there has not been any substantial evidence to support the larger claims for the CE to lead to systemic change at the organizational and societal levels. Questions around how CE will impact rural livelihoods in countries like India or create change in the patterns of the New International Division of Labour, still remain unanswered. Within the framework of her thesis, Cansu Gurkaya is conducting fieldwork in Auroville, where she dives into case studies to understand the social, and material changes that different implementations of CE can bring about in the existing Indian rural labour market. In parallel, her work focuses on the employment relations between Auroville and the neighbouring Tamil communities who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and who provide the main workforce for its labour-intensive industries. More specifically, she is interested in the sociological implications of women’s participation in Auroville’s industrial economy, knowing that female labour force participation has been low and declining in rural India.

Contact : cansugurkaya [at] gmail [dot] com

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.



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”.

Kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ developed as a martial and medical system in various styles across South India. While its authority resides in the body and practice of a gurukkaḷ (lineage-holder), a kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ gurukkaḷ also safeguards, consults and transmits his lineage’s manuscripts. Concentrating on the CVN lineage of “northern style” or “Malabar” kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ Lucy May Constantini’s research draws on her relationship since 2002 with CVN Kalari in Thiruvananthapuram, and the study of manuscripts in Malayalam and Sanskrit. She integrates somatic and embodied methodologies from her previous career as a dance artist into philological and ethnographic research. At the EFEO she has been working under the guidance of SAS Sarma, studying Malayalam texts on kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘.

In April, she invited G. Sathyanarayanan Nair, gurukkaḷ of CVN Kalari Sangham at East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram to Pondicherry for a 2-day workshop with S.A.S. Sarma. They presented a lecture-cum-demonstration about the findings of the workshop. Her research is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership.

Contact :Lucymay [dot] constantini [at] open [dot] ac [dot] uk

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.

This Atlas brings together 20 chapters covering diverse issues ranging from demographic patterns (low fertility, migration, child mortality, etc.) to health behavior (anemia, hypertension, health insurance, etc.), gender bias (son preference, girl-only families, women’s land ownership, etc.) and reproductive health (antenatal care, cancer screening, hospital deliveries, immunization, etc.). A first lesson of this comprehensive work is that in spite of expected regional differentials, each mapping analysis brings to light unique geographical features. The Atlas will revolve around 30 district-level maps of gender and health indicators and systematic spatial analysis to identify regional clusters. Initially prepared with data related to 2015, maps and tables are currently being updated with the most recent dataset released in April 2022 (NFHS-5).

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

Najma Heptulla, Minister of Minority Affairs

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. Through this study, we aim, more broadly, to contribute to a reflection on non-electoral representation, and more particularly on minority representation in a secular regime, by throwing light on the different types of Muslim spokespersons and on their relations to the state.

Contact: Julien Levesque, Laurence Gautier, Nicolas Belorgey

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. Their study is an attempt at understanding the various temporal regimes of capitalism, the differentiation of accumulation across regional and social groups as well as the relation between wealth and politics or the changing nature of state-business relationship. Spread across four cities of different regions of India, their teams are currently collecting primary data on aspects of mapping the social dynamics of wealth ownership.

Contact: Surinder Jodhka

Action on the collections of the Department of Ecology IFP

A typical phytolith from the leaves of Hybanthus enneaspermus, a herb from the Violaceae family. Length is about 140 microns

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. These silica microparticles that occur in plant cells and tissues can preserve in soils and sediments for millions of years. Like pollen grains, phytoliths allow identifying the plants that produced them. They are, therefore, valuable microfossils to be aware of when working on archaeological sites. The articles in preparation concern twenty Indian medicinal plants, 70 trees native to southern India, and 20 species of the Amaranthaceae family, which are widespread in the arid zones of Africa and Asia. In parallel, Prasad S. and Anupama K. are preparing a new pollen atlas of the common taxa of southeast India. These works contribute to the influence of the IFP's collections, which are an invaluable scientific heritage given the years and hours of work invested to enrich our knowledge.

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

Pune Metro Construction Site, June 2022 © Bertrand Lefebvre

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. The GLOBALSMOG project aims to identify and explain the technical, social and political processes that negatively or positively influence the management of air pollution in cities of the Global South. Looking at 11 cities in Africa, South Asia (Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune) and Southeast Asia, this research project explores through an interdisciplinary approach the social construction of ambient air pollution both as a global and as a local issue, the way it is embedded in socio-technical representations of health, the environment and the economy. Supported by the ANR (2022-2025), this project is coordinated by IFP in India.

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

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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. These records contain rich information about fisher’s maritime knowledge, coastal ecology, experiences at sea, diversification of craft and gear, changing forms of value chains in markets and the possibilities of political solidarity and fisher unity.

Contact: Bhagath Singh A, IFP, bhagath [dot] singh [at] ifpindia [dot] org as Principal Investigator,

Arunkumar A S as Co-PI, IFP,arunkumar [dot] as [at] ifpindia [dot] org