Axis 1. – Social and Environmental Changes

This cluster is broadly concerned with the ways that south Asian societies grapple with environmental issues and changes.

This axis 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 cluster 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 the ideas of situating resource management practices within the broader historical and political economy, showing the coproduction of environmental knowledge, social order, and built environment, and 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.

Researchers in this cluster are working in different programs on changes in water uses: institutions and policies are studied through interdisciplinary approaches. The program on “Past water systems and landscapes” explores the ways in which people and society have coped with hydroclimatic constraints, disturbances, hazards, and insecurity, and the impact of climate anomalies on societal development in medieval times. The program on “Water and Territories” focuses on the water and land nexus. It analyses the way that water and land issues are dealt and made visible by some artefacts and agents. It studies how those concerned deal with the tensions between development and preservation. The program of ATCHA (Accompagnying The adaptation of irrigated agriculture to climate CHAnge) aims to accompany the adaptation of farming systems to climate change by combining an integrated biophysical model with a participatory approach in a network of experimental watersheds in Karnataka state.

Another group of researchers is working to articulate the issues of agrarian and agricultural history: the history of cultivated plants and their place in agroecosystems; social innovations around agroecology, particularly from a feminist perspective; the way in which societies view the relationship between seeds, plants, food and health; in the same perspective we are committed to analysing the variations of local food systems, food culture and the links to territories and communities. This team focuses particularly on research methodology including participatory approaches that generate knowledges and potentially social changes. (links to the program need to be made)

This axis includes the FISHERCOAST (coastal-transformations-and-fisher-wellbeing-synthetized-perspectives-india-and-europe) project which 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.