Hugo Ribadeau Dumas is a PhD candidate in Urban Geography at EHESS – the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (Paris). His research is funded by CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique— the French National Center for Scientific Research).

Hugo’s PhD dissertation focuses on friendship in small cities of India. Friendship patterns constitute an essential metric to visualize faults in society. Indeed, establishing and nurturing friendships require a wide range of resources – and therefore involves inequalities. As a result, while spending time with friends may appear commonplace for many people, substantial friendship remains a privilege for many others.

The central hypothesis of this doctoral research is that the institution of friendship in India is undergoing massive transformations under the influence of one implacable phenomenon: urbanisation. The city undeniably offers new avenues of exposure outside familial circles. But, beyond interpersonal relations, what could these changes mean for society?

Accordingly, Hugo’s research explores the meaning and practice of friendship in urbanising India. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, Hugo investigates how urbanisation is transforming the institution of friendship in Indian society and, inversely, to which extent friendship is likely to transform social norms. Hugo carries out his research in two small cities : Purnea (Bihar) and Margao (Goa).

The study looks at friendship through the lens of gender: it reveals glaring disparities in the manner men and women practice friendship. By doing so, it questions the capacity of friendship to turn into an emancipatory platform for oppressed sections of society. The research does not romanticise amicable love: it also discusses its most dis-empowering dimensions. Overall, it provides valuable inputs in theorising a geography of friendship.

Hugo has been practising and researching urban development for more than a decade across India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. He has been involved with an eclectic set of organisations, including the Aga Khan Development Network, the French Development Agency (AFD), Altai Consulting and KPMG.


Ribadeau Dumas, Hugo. (2023). “Tāqat, Shakti or Empowerment(s)? Describing the Experience of Power: A Decade of Observations in One Informal Settlement of Patna, India” Journal for South Asian Development, April 20.

Ribadeau Dumas Hugo. (2023). “Strees in the streets. Gendered engagement with the urban space in Hindi films: a quantitative study”, GeoJournal, January 28.

Ribadeau Dumas, Hugo. (2021), Basic Urban Services in India: a Paradoxical Bricolage (Review of the book Quand L’Inde s’urbanise: Services essentiels et paradoxes d’un urbanisme bricolé, by Marie-Hélène Zérah). Books and Ideas,

Ribadeau Dumas, Hugo. (2021). सरकारें ‘स्मार्ट’ शहर तो बना लेंगी, मगर औरतों के लिए ‘समझदार’ शहर कैसे बनेगा? (Sarkarein “Smart” shaher to bana lengi, magar auraton ke lie “Samajdhar” shahar kaise banega?), The Lallantop.

Ribadeau Dumas, Hugo. (2021). फ्रांस से लेकर भारत तक, नारीवाद पर अंग्रेज़ी भाषा के दबदबे के बारे में मैंने क्या समझा (France se lekar Bharat tak, narivaad par angrezi bhasha ke dabdabe ke bare mein maine kya samjha), FII – Feminism in India.

You may also like...