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Workshop: Commons in South Asia


Event Start Date:
3rd April 2017
Event End Date:
5th April 2017
Event Venue:
Goa

The « Association Jeunes Etudes Indiennes » is pleased to announce that the 19th workshop for young scholars will take place at Goa, India, April 3-5 2017.

This year the workshop will be held on « Commons in South Asia today ».

NOTE: Abstract submissions for the workshop are closed.

Interested researchers must send an abstract (500 to 1 000 words) in English before January 16th 2017 to the following address: ateliers.ajei2017@gmail.com.

Announcement of selected papers will be sent to the author by January 31st 2017.

In case of acceptance, the full text (about 10 000 words) will be requested in English before March 10th 2017. Each presentation will be done in English, will last about 20 minutes, and will be discussed by a specialist.

Please include along with your proposal: your last name, your first name, your disciplinary field, your level study, your institution(s) of affiliation and your research topic.

Commons in South Asia today:

Generally referring to shared resources in which each stakeholder has an equal interest, the term “commons” has come to signify a much broader set of meanings and has been appropriated over recent decades by various interest groups, whether used as a marketing strategy or as a definite political argument against the current commodification and privatization.

Historically, the concept is tied with the evolution of the relations of the modern societies to their environment, especially in terms of resources management. It developed in capitalist theory regarding its early stage coined as “primitive accumulation” consisting in enclosure of common lands in rural Western Europe. The first scholars dwelling on the question mainly tended to justify this process through the “tragedy of the commons”[1] argument, claiming that alleged open access resources were condemned to over exploitation and subsequent deterioration. In contrast to these views, the contemporaneous works on commons are derived from a critical perspective of the private property regime and tend to foster egalitarian, sustainable and grassroots approaches to resource management.[2] Above these ideological divergences, there is also a methodological distinction regarding social behavior analysis.[3] A major breakthrough of this new commons perspective is to go beyond an approach solely centered on property legal arrangements to emphasize the socialized relations to the environment and the nature of social and institutional practices involved in those interactions.

Questioning the “commons” today in South Asia, both in the theoretical and methodological debates, enables to combine environmental, spatial, and social perspectives to deepen our understanding of the evolution of various modes of socialization, management and control over resources in the subcontinent. What characterizes the commons in South Asia? How are they perceived, used, managed, preserved but also coveted and controlled? How to share uses and management of resources in socially stratified societies such as India? What are the implications in terms of governance, conflicts, inequalities? And in which ways the concept of “commons” can contribute to renew the approaches on territorial development? At the crossroads of many issues, the notion of “commons” is worth being revised and re-interrogated, particularly in the South Asian current context marked by growing resources scarcities and increasing number of territorial and identity conflicts. To mention only two of the most recent ones, reference might be made to the river water sharing conflicts between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, or between Haryana and Penjab. The ongoing illegal mining projects in forest areas of Jharkhand is another example of tensions brought by this issue. Under the realm of the state development capitalism, natural resources have been growingly linked to a wider community – the nationhood – or to private interests, possibly hampering local dwellers rights. The commons then need to be addressed in terms of social mobilization, looking at the ways the relationships between social groups and resources have been reframed – built and fed by national discourses, as well as legal regulations. Highlighting the question of multiple scales of representation, decision making, and practices at stake, the notion of commons resonates not only with issues related to rights and citizenship[4], but also to community identities and boundaries.

The workshop aims to bring together students from various disciplines to debate about this highly topical issue, to get a wider understanding of the notion of commons and the ways they are defined, characterized, protected or cornered in South Asia. We propose to contribute to a heuristic vision of commons, with the help of in-depth case studies, which could include spatial, social, cultural, economic and symbolic dimensions in the analysis.

[1] Hardin, G. 1968. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science 162. 1243–1248.

[2] Ostrom, E. 1990. Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, England. Cambridge University Press.

[3] Ostrom E. (1998), “A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action”, The American Political Science Review, vol. 92, n° 1, p. 1-22.

[4] Amin, A., Howell, P. (éd.). 2016. Releasing the commons: rethinking the futures of the commons. London. Routledge studies in human geography, 61.

[5] Baviskar A. 2011. “Cows, Cars and Cycle-rickshaws: Bourgeois Environmentalism and the Battle for Delhi’s Streets” in Amita Baviskar and Raka Ray (ed.), Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes, New Delhi: Routledge, 391-418.

Best Regards,

Organization:
Arthur Cessou (EHESS, CEIAS et CSSH (New Delhi, Inde) : ArthurCessou@gmail.com
Karine Hochart (Université de Tours et de Chennai (Inde), UMR CITERES) : hochartkarine@gmail.com
Mauve Létang (Université Paris – Sorbonne, UMR ENeC) : mauveletang1@gmail.com
Sugandha Singh (Institut TATA de Sciences Sociales, Mumbai, Inde) : sugandhasingh93@gmail.com

 

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