Research Areas

The Centre de Sciences Humaines, Delhi, carries out research projects in the field of social sciences that contribute towards a better understanding of the contemporary dynamics of development in India, in the regional and international context.

Questioning Development: Models, Dynamics, Impacts

Head of research area: Joël Cabalion

The research projects included in this research area contribute to shedding light on the structure as well as the transformations of inequalities in contemporary India by zooming in on a few major areas such as agriculture, labour and education.  In the context of international debates on the evolution of work and growth trends, this line of research interrogates old and new models of development and offers a better understanding of the transitions and challenges in India today. This area hosts several research projects that renew methodological debates on the measurement of inequality. 

  • Growth, Work, Inequalities

We hereby look at the major trends of evolution in work as well as forms of inequalities, ranging from the questioning of existing models of economic growth to the elaboration of appropriate tools to measure inequality and poverty in India.

  •  Rural worlds in transition: agrarian and environmental crises

This section examines not only the longue durée of agricultural trends in India but also its most salient contemporary challenges, particularly in relation to the emergence of agroecology or in the wake of land dispossession in rural areas.

  •  Privatization of public services

We explore in this section the compelling evolutions faced by the public sector in India and the various privatization drives engaged by the Indian State, notably in the educational field.   

Researchers :

  • CSH members: Kiran Bhatty, Joël Cabalion, Christophe Guilmoto, Odile Henry, Himanshu, Surinder Singh Jodhka and Tista Kundu.
  • CSH Associate Researchers and Visiting Researchers: Bina Agarwal, Bruno Dorin, Nicolas Gravel, Clémence Jullien, Arnaud Kabba, Loraine Kennedy, Jules Naudet, and Delphine Thivet.

Challineq, Eqoppind (AXA), Wealth Inequality and Elites in India

Project : Wealth Inequality and Elites in India (Surinder S. Jodkha)

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.

Documenting Democracy: History, Politics, Citizenship

Head of research area: Stéphanie Tawa Lama

The projects conducted in this research area explore the unique complexity of Indian democracy through a variety of perspectives, timeframes and scales of observation. Historians scrutinize key moments and places in the co-construction of the nation and its diverse communities; political scientists, focusing on various institutions, observe the transformations of political representation; and sociologists analyse a number of public policies that exemplify ongoing redefinitions of citizenship. 

  • History and Memory

Here several researchers study the intellectual encounters between Christian, Muslim and Hindu scholars in the early modern period. Others document and analyse practices of community construction and nation building from the late 18th century onwards.

  • Political Representation(s)

These research projects observe the multiple actors, sites and forms of political representation in contemporary India.

  • Public policies: technologies, rights, citizenship

Here we analyze a series of public policies under three major angles that are distinct yet connected: the impact of digital technologies, the evolving role of the state, and the redefinitions of citizenship.

Researchers :

  • CSH Members : Kiran Bhatty, Joël Cabalion, Baishak Chakrabarty, Laurence Gautier, Odile Henry, Stéphanie Tawa Lama.
  • CSH Associate Researchers and Visiting Researchers: Marine Al Dahdah, Nicolas Belorgey, Roma Casamitjana, Aasim Khan, Julien Levesque, Jean-Thomas Martelli, Soheb Niazi and Sahib Singh.

Project 1: PaRChA (Pamphlet Repository for Changing Activism) (Jean-Thomas Martelli). 

This project started to answer a simple question: how can one understand Indian activism, its history, and the language it developed in the last decades without having a close look at activists’ everyday writings? Well, it’s impossible. This initiative is therefore progressively setting up a platform for referencing material on different protest movements in the country. This digital library offers full searchable content to scholars and concerned individuals. It includes 72430 items that cover the period 1975-2015 and are indexed according to their author (organisational or institutional) and approximate year of release. The idea behind the project is to collect, enlarge, and offer quantitative and qualitative tools of analysis for this printed material by associating scanned images with their related text.

Project 2: Retrieving Past Lives from Jamia – Tazkirah-e Jamia

This project brings together memories relating to the founders and the subsequent builders of Jamia Millia Islamia, but also relating to the many who worked with them in less prominent positions, teachers, librarians, administrators, and staff. It works as a repository, guiding scholars and those interested in the history of the Jamia to the available sources, but it also aims at making available and generating new sources, through interviews and by encouraging people to put their memories to paper. The project is a common initiative by the Max Weber Forum and the Centre de Sciences Humaines CSH, both in Delhi.



For more details, see

Populations and spaces in transition

Head of research area :  Christophe Z. Guilmoto

The research in this research area outlines a rapidly changing India, where contemporary transformations are reshaping the spatial and environmental structures of the country. The main drivers of these transition processes are primarily social and economic changes, but also include policy initiatives affecting urban localities, the natural environment and health outcomes. In particular, we focus on the outcomes of these dynamics on urban areas, the natural environment and demographic trends.

  • Urbanization

We examine here some of the most salient challenges facing urban areas in India, ranging from emerging health issues, access to public goods, IT development and migration. 

  • Environment

We explore here the various ways in which the countryside responds to the recent development drives and the extent to which fragile natural spaces are impacted.

  • Population, Family, Gender

We explore at both local and macro scales the deep transformations affecting the social and demographic fabric of Indian society, focusing notably on health, family and gender issues.

Researchers :

  • CSH Members : Joël Cabalion, Hugo Ribadeau Dumas, Christophe Z. Guilmoto and Stéphanie Tawa Lama.
  • CSH Associate Researchers and Visiting Researchers: Samuel Benkimoun, Rémi de Bercegol, Caterina Guenzi, Bérénice Gérard, Christine Moliner, Jessica Pourraz, Olivier Tell and Marie-Hélène Zerah.

Project: Atlas of Gender and Health

Following a preliminary workshop at the CSH in 2020, a team of about 30 researchers directed by Christophe Z. Guilmoto and Nandita Saikia (IIPS, Mumbai) is working on an Atlas of gender and Health in India. This Atlas will bring together about 20 original chapters covering diverse issues ranging from demographic patterns (low fertility, migration, child mortality, etc.) to health behavior (anemia, hypertension, foodways, etc.), gender bias (son preference, girl-only families, women’s land ownership, etc.) and reproductive health (antenatal care, cancer screening, hospital deliveries, immunization, etc.).

The Atlas is based on the latest countrywide dataset that has been released in April 2022 and it will include about 30 district-level maps of gender and health indicators.