This axis examines the various dimensions of the dynamics which, due to the rapid movement of urbanization, affect spaces on all scales, from major metropolises to rural areas.

From an extensive urban sprawl to the densification of places of all sizes, the growing conversion of small rural villages into urban settlements through infrastructure communication and land acquisition, the material expressions of urbanization are addressed through different entry point and disciplinary approaches. The research programs carried out by the team are therefore questioning multiple aspects of such combined process, from the blurring of the frontiers between rural and urban, the changing logics of land transaction and mobility, to new trends in social demands and economic positioning. The changes related to this movement go far beyond material in both urban and rural spaces, to affect their social, economic and political features.

Addressing such phenomena through different perspectives and points of analysis, therefore requires the characterization of their general dynamics and multiple expressions on various scales. Such a combination of scales, disciplinary approaches and methods allow for going beyond a generic essentialism.

The three main components of analysis carried out by researchers lead us to:

  • Characterize the main features of the movement of urbanization in India, by collecting and analysing a set of statistical and qualitative data, undertaking longitudinal studies of public policies and deep case studies conducted on different scales which enable an understanding of the main processes related to the phenomena and their materialization;
  • Address specifically, mainly through micro-scales investigations, questions related to the practices of social actors ranging from public institutions to civil societies, representatives and citizens, which inform on the ways society tend to adapt, react or confront the various transformations that accompany these processes.
  • Analyse the resulting politics of urbanization from both the urban and rural perspective, from their elaboration under specific schemes and policies to their multiple spheres and modalities of negotiation and implementation on regional and local scales. This aspect is therefore contributing to a reflection on the changing patterns of urban governance in India.

All these sets of approaches are undertaken on the basis of long-term research dynamics, translated for a few decades into the leadership and participation of IFP researchers in international collaborative projects such as Subaltern Urbanization in India (SUBURBIN, Urban Chances, City Growth and the Sustainability Challenge (Chance2sustain,, and into a partnership with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) under the project Urban and Socio-Ecological Resilience of Pondicherry Region (RUSE), implemented in collaboration with the Department of Ecology.

This research investigations involve study cases in the field of tourism, leisure and mobility, tangible and intangible heritage and, among others, urban transformations and local development. These activities are closely articulated to the 3 other axes of the Department.

Contact: Nicolas BAUTES