ENGIND Seminar 17th June 2016, EHESS, Paris, Room N°662, 2-5 pm
Odile Henry, Mathieu Ferry
Educating the engineering elite.
Classifications and classification categories in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)
Since Independence Engineering studies have been seen as a force capable of transforming Indian society, with advanced technology being central to the development model. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) hence particularly embody the values of modern India. Exempted from the application of reservation policies to start with, IITs tend to be perceived as places that produce a meritocratic elite, freed from the contingencies related to caste and their political exploitation. The success of former IITs students in the US computer industry in the 1980s and the liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s tend to make IITs a “brand” associated with Indian global competitiveness and the values of a private sector disembedded from the social and political spheres.
Based on an ongoing fieldwork in one of these technical elite education institutions, we will question this meritocratic model.
The analysis of the process of admission, orientation towards streams (degrees and discipline), selection during the training, and placement on the labor market, highlights the types of hierarchy that exist within the student population and the trends that contribute to the global reproduction of social inequalities.
By Shirish B. Patel
When selecting a lawyer or a doctor, no one asks for competitive bidding, and then awards the work to the lowest bidder. But this is how government and some private organisations select their civil engineering consultants.
On the death of passionate civil engineering, Shirish B Patel in Perspectives, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 51, Issue No. 20, 14 May, 2016 :
By Ian J. Kerr, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
The publication of Ritika Prasad’s (2015b) Tracks of Change: Railways and Everyday Life in Colonial India marks the maturation of a trend present in the historiography of South Asian railways since the turn of the current millennium. This trend has seen some historians give much more attention to the multidimensional ways in which the railways were central to the making of modern India. Some of the new studies mentioned below are in the form of recently completed PhD theses which, I expect—because they all represent impressive examples of interesting scholarship—to emerge as good books during the next couple of years or so. As an impressive corpus of new research and writing the books, articles and theses that populate this trend deserve to be labelled a new history of India’s railways.
See more at: http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/19/review-article/chugging-unfamiliar-stations.html#sthash.nZeQMRVM.dpuf
Talk by Dr. Stefan Tetzlaff, CEIAS-CNRS, ENGIND
“Motor Lorry vs. Bullock Cart: Road Transport between Modernizing Agents and Peasant Households in Central and Western India During the Great Depression”
Time: 2.00 p.m.
Venue: Department of History, Ambedkar Bhavan, Savitribai Phule Pune University.
Despite Mumbai’s position as India’s financial, economic, and cultural capital, water is chronically unavailable for rich and poor alike. Mumbai’s dry taps are puzzling, given that the city does not lack for either water or financial resources. In Pipe Politics, Contested Waters, Lisa Björkman shows how an elite dream to transform Mumbai into a “world class” business center has wreaked havoc on the city’s water pipes. In rich ethnographic detail, Pipe Politics explores how the everyday work of getting water animates and inhabits a penumbra of infrastructural activity—of business, brokerage, secondary markets, and sociopolitical networks—whose workings are reconfiguring and rescaling political authority in the city. Mumbai’s increasingly illegible and volatile hydrologies, Björkman argues, are lending infrastructures increasing political salience just as actual control over pipes and flows becomes contingent on dispersed and intimate assemblages of knowledge, power, and material authority. These new arenas of contestation reveal the illusory and precarious nature of the project to remake Mumbai in the image of Shanghai or Singapore and gesture instead toward the highly contested futures and democratic possibilities of the actually existing city.
2015 Duke University Press
About the Author
Lisa Björkman is Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs at University of Louisville, and Research Scholar at CETREN (Transregional Research Network), University of Göttingen.
Technology, technicians and the state in South Asia: political and social uses of technical knowledge
The 24th ECSAS (European Conference on South Asian Studies) will take place at the University of Warsaw (Poland) from 27 to 30 July 2016.
Berenice Girard (EHESS Paris) email
Vanessa Caru (CNRS ) email
Mail All Convenors
This panel invites reflexions and case studies on the political and social uses of technology in South Asia, to discuss its centrality in government policies. Technology is here understood in an extensive manner, to include different types of technical knowledge, practices and tools.
This panel invites reflexions and case studies on the political and social uses of technology in South Asia. Technology is here understood in an extensive manner to include different types of technical knowledge, practices and tools. The centrality of technology in government policies has been widely discussed in contemporary research. This panel would like to discuss this centrality while adopting a historical perspective on the evolving political use of technology and a specific focus on South Asia.
In the years following Independence, technology was conceived as a central tool to further the economic development and social policies of South Asian countries, and technical elites were offered important roles in the implementation of technocratic development programs. The present context of liberalisation and redefinition of the role of the State seems however to have brought both new uses and actors, as well as changes in the modes of interaction between States and technologies. We invite papers discussing this dynamic, and especially welcome case studies focusing on the specific use and place of technology in social policies. We further invite papers looking at processes of defining politically pertinent technologies, as well as detailed papers on the interaction and relationship between the different technical professional groups and the State. Finally, we also invite reflexions and case studies on how technology affects States’ prerogatives, balances of power and control over political territories and spaces in South Asia.
Roads, An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise
Penny Harvey, Hannah Knox
Cornell University Press : http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100865490.
Roads matter to people. This claim is central to the work of Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox, who in this book use the example of highway building in South America to explore what large public infrastructural projects can tell us about contemporary state formation, social relations, and emerging political economies.
Roads focuses on two main sites: the interoceanic highway currently under construction between Brazil and Peru, a major public/private collaboration that is being realized within new, internationally ratified regulatory standards; and a recently completed one-hundred-kilometer stretch of highway between Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon, and a small town called Nauta, one of the earliest colonial settlements in the Amazon. The Iquitos-Nauta highway is one of the most expensive roads per kilometer on the planet.
Combining ethnographic and historical research, Harvey and Knox shed light on the work of engineers and scientists, bureaucrats and construction company officials. They describe how local populations anticipated each of the road projects, even getting deeply involved in questions of exact routing as worries arose that the road would benefit some more than others. Connectivity was a key recurring theme as people imagined the prosperity that will come by being connected to other parts of the country and with other parts of the world. Sweeping in scope and conceptually ambitious, Roads tells a story of global flows of money, goods, and people—and of attempts to stabilize inherently unstable physical and social environments.
A cruise along the streets of Chennai—or Silicon Valley—filled with professional young Indian men and women, reveals the new face of India. In the twenty-first century, Indians have acquired a new kind of global visibility, one of rapid economic advancement and, in the information technology industry, spectacular prowess. In this book, C. J. Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan examine one particularly striking group who have taken part in this development: Tamil Brahmans—a formerly traditional, rural, high-caste elite who have transformed themselves into a new middle-class caste in India, the United States, and elsewhere.Fuller and Narasimhan offer one of the most comprehensive looks at Tamil Brahmans around the world to date. They examine Brahman migration from rural to urban areas, more recent transnational migration, and how the Brahman way of life has translated to both Indian cities and American suburbs. They look at modern education and the new employment opportunities afforded by engineering and IT. They examine how Sanskritic Hinduism and traditional music and dance have shaped Tamil Brahmans’ particular middle-class sensibilities and how middle-class status is related to the changing position of women. Above all, they explore the complex relationship between class and caste systems and the ways in which hierarchy has persisted in modernized India.
Élites du Japon moderne : traducteurs, médecins, ingénieurs et architectes
Journée d’étude internationale organisée par
Nicolas Fiévé (CRCAO/EPHE) et Aleksandra Kobiljski (CRJ/EHESS)
Jeudi 4 juin 2015 de 9h15 à 18h30
EHESS, Salle 640, 6e étage
190 avenue de France, 75013 Paris
9.15 Welcome and introduction
Aleksandra Kobiljski & Nicolas Fiévé
9.30-10.30 Concepts and frameworks
Guillaume Carré (EHESS, CRJ), Social Margins and the Notion of Elite in Early Modern Japan
Shimizu Yuiichirō (Keiō University), Reformatting Elite in Modern Japan
Chair: Fabien Simon (Université Paris Diderot, ICT)
Annick Horiuchi (Université Paris Diderot, CRCAO), Translators of Dutch Books in the Early Nineteenth-century Japan: the Emergence of an Elite
Ruselle Meade (University of Tōkyō), Translators as Elites in Meiji Japan: The Case of Yamagata Teisaburō
Discussant: Fabienne Jagou (EFEO, IAO) Continue reading
New Delhi, India, 4-5 January 2016.
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Elites can be broadly defined as “those who have vastly disproportionate control over or access to a resource”. The study of this privileged fraction of society currently experiences a revival that can partly be explained by the rising level of inequalities. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement of 2011 shed light on this renewed interest of scholars and activists, who make an extensive use of the latest researches produced by social scientists. More recently, the successs of Thomas Piketty’s book helped to shed light on the role this fraction of society plays in the production of inequalities. A whole body of quantitative and qualitative research has been produced by researchers over the last few years, including prosopographic studies of business leaders, Multiple Correspondence Analyses of the field of economic power, historical studies of the business elites, network analyses of corporate interlocks, qualitative studies of the formal and informal modes of sociability among the elite, ethnography of elite clubs, studies of conspicuous consumption, etc. From the early works of Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Thorstein Veblen and C. Wright Mills to today’s researches, the sociology of elites can draw on a very rich and diverse body of works. Nonetheless, the scholarship on the elite in India is very limited. The well established traditions of studying social networks of the elite, their educational background, their biographies, their family life, their exclusive social clubs, their culture or their neighborhoods have not still been appropriated by scholars working on the Indian society and very few researchers are currently trying to fill this gap. This is all the more surprising as India is currently the World’s third economic power in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (and the 10th in terms of GDP nominal value). To give just one figure, according to the Wall Street Journal, in 2013, India had a total of 182,000 millionaires (in dollars). Continue reading