This axis is broadly concerned with the ways that south Asian societies grapple with environmental issues and changes. It brings together researchers in disciplines such as anthropology, archeology, geography, history or sociology, and is in close interaction with IFP’s Ecology Department and GeoSmit. Research carried out also takes the form of applied and cross-disciplinary projects, which mobilize political ecology perspectives to approach nature, science and society relations.

Researchers in this axis deal with a diversity of socio-environmental problems that engage with contemporary debates on agroecology, biodiversity and water conservation, climate change and coastal sustainability. They share a common interest in questions related to natural resource management (notably the politics and technologies of access to and control over these resources), environmental history, knowledge and narratives, and their interactive effects on the dynamics of livelihoods and environmental change. With their own theoretical perspectives and methodologies, the projects carried out examine the conceptualizations of nature-society relations in their respective case studies. Common threads running through these projects are:

  • situating resource management practices within the broader historical and political economy
  • showing the coproduction of environmental knowledge, social order, and built environment
  • opening up to various foci (for example on historical landscape) and approaches, including institutional approaches that emphasize democratic institutions, transparency, and accountability viz. actors (with special attention given to caste, class and gender) whose experience and understanding have historically been undervalued.

1. A first cluster of projects is dedicated to changes in water uses, technologies, institutions, policies and representations.

In the stream of the previous works, the WATER cluster question the evolution of water uses, institutions and policies, mostly at the local scale.

The ongoing projects are: WATER PONDI : Water Risk Assessment in Pondicherry; ATCHA : Accompanying The adaptation of irrigated agriculture to climate CHAnge ; MANDU

2. A second cluster is articulating agriculture, food and society.

Continuing IFP's work on food and health, the Agriculture cluster apprehends the links between agricultural production and food consumption, particularly from an agro-ecological perspective and a gender issue. This cluster focus particularly on research methodology including participatory approaches that generate knowledge and potentially social changes.

The ongoing projects are: Food democracy in the Pondicherry bioregion, Bees for honey to bees for pollination , The revival of millets in South India: between spatial justice, environmentality and agroecology.

3. A third cluster explores key debates in social sciences on the conservation and management of forests and biodiversity in India and other regions of South Asia.

It is broadly grounded in a political ecology approach, examining the conservation and development nexus and notably the interplay between the way nature is understood and the politics and impacts of conservation action. Projects carried out include case studies of specific protected areas still deeply entrenched in the fortress conservation model, as well as an examination of relatively newer neoliberal form of conservation that employs market rationality rather than “command-and-control” policies to achieve sustainable forest management [Project “Greenmentality: A Political Ecology of the Green Economy in the Global South”].

4. A fourth cluster examines how government policies with regard to coastal development have transformed the physical, ecological and social character of coastal areas in India and selected European countries and how this has impacted the wellbeing of fishing communities, who are historically the main coastal inhabitants. See the page of Fishercoast project (coastal-transformations-and-fisher-wellbeing-synthetized-perspectives-india-and-europe) .