Author Archives: Bérénice Girard

Book : Epic Engineering. Great Canals and Barrages of Victorian India

image1Epic Engineering. Great Canals and Barrages of Victorian India, Beechwood Melrose Publishing, 2013

Alan Robertson and Jeremy Berkoff

“In India in the early nineteenth century, young British officials in their twenties could find themselves in charge of huge projects. With little or no relevant experience, they had to learn on the job.

Proby Cautley designed and built the Ganges Canal. Over 700 miles long, it remains the biggest construction in the world built without mechanical help – using only man and animal power, wheelbarrows and shovels. In the south of India, his rival and exact contemporary Arthur Cotton built a barrage across the four-mile wide Godavari river, turning its vast delta into productive land.

The achievements of Cautley and Cotton were recognised by knighthoods and public acclaim. But they were completely different in characters and they quarrelled fiercely and publicly. This is their story.”

A review of the book in the Hindu

Interview : In Conversation with Jan Brouwer

jan-brouwerIn Conversation with Jan Brouwer

Sreekala Sivasankaran interviews Jan Brouwer, a pioneer in the field of anthropology of the artisans in India

“Dr Jan Brouwer is a pioneer in the field of the anthropology of artisans in India. A versatile personality of several accomplishments, he lives and works in the quiet confines of Mysuru, South India. Author of The Makers of the World (1995) and Coping with Dependence (1988), he recently donated his personal archive on Visvakarmas in Karnataka to the Southern Regional Centre (SRC) of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Bengaluru. Dr Sreekala Sivasankaran, Associate Professor and Project Director of ‘The Worldview of Visvakarmas’ project at IGNCA, New Delhi, makes a vignette of the man and his work in this conversation with Dr Brouwer (conducted on October 11, 2016).”

Interview available here


Panel, ECSAS Warsaw 2016 : Technology, technicians and the state in South Asia

ECSAS logoEuropean Conference on South Asian Studies, Warsaw, 27-30th July 2016

Technology, technicians and the state in South Asia: political and social uses of technical knowledge

Convenors : Vanessa Caru (CNRS) & Bérénice Girard (EHESS Paris)

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.

Papers : 

Stefan Tetzlaff (EHESS-CNRS, Paris), State Policy, Technical Knowledge and Manpower Requirements: The Case of the Automobile Industry and its Workforce in India After Independence (c. 1947-2010)

Champaka Rajagopal (University of Amsterdam), The State’s Attributes of a Firm? Combining Welfare and Growth Goals: Regional Infrastructure PPP Projects in India

Klara Feldes (Humboldt University Berlin), Technology in the nexus of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’- the example of the Indian River Interlinking Project 

Shivani Kapoor (Jawaharlal Nehru University), ‘Something Smells Bad’ – Caste, Technology and Leatherwork in India

More infos on the panel available here

Programme of the conference available here

International conference, 20-21/06/2016 : What do consultants do to the social world?

International Conference, 20th & 21st June 2016, EHESS Paris

What do consultants do to the social world? Properties, practices and contributions of ‘consulting’ to the construction of reality

What do consultants do to the social world - ProgramWhat do consultants do to the social world - Program - 2

Organised by Isabel BONICLE GOFF (University of Lausanne, Centre en Etudes Genre, Switzerland, Centre Maurice Halbwachs, Paris), Vincent MOENECLAEY (University of Versailles\Saint\Quentin\en\Yvelines, Laboratoire Printemps), and Sophie POCHIC (CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure, EHESS, Centre Maurice Halbwachs, Paris)

What do consultants do to the social world – Program

Book : The Technological Indian

The Technological Indian

Ross Bassett

“In the late 1800s, Indians seemed to be a people left behind by the Industrial Revolution, dismissed as “not a mechanical race.” Today Indians are among the world’s leaders in engineering and technology. In this international history spanning nearly 150 years, Ross Bassett—drawing on a unique database of every Indian to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between its founding and 2000—charts their ascent to the pinnacle of high-tech professions.

As a group of Indians sought a way forward for their country, they saw a future in technology. Bassett examines the tensions and surprising congruences between this technological vision and Mahatma Gandhi’s nonindustrial modernity. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, sought to use MIT-trained engineers to build an India where the government controlled technology for the benefit of the people. In the private sector, Indian business families sent their sons to MIT, while MIT graduates established India’s information technology industry.

By the 1960s, students from the Indian Institutes of Technology (modeled on MIT) were drawn to the United States for graduate training, and many of them stayed, as prominent industrialists, academics, and entrepreneurs. The MIT-educated Indian engineer became an integral part of a global system of technology-based capitalism and focused less on India and its problems—a technological Indian created at the expense of a technological India.”

ENGIND Seminar : Etienne Gérard – National and international spaces of engineering : the case of Mexico

Le quatrième atelier de l’ANR ENGIND – Ingénieurs et société en Inde coloniale et post-coloniale se tiendra le 1er Juin 2015

de 14h à 16h30, en salle 640, CEIAS-EHESS, 6e étage, 190-198 avenue de France, Paris. 
Métros : Bibliothèque (ligne 14) ou Quai de la gare (ligne 6)
L’espace national d’ingénierie : un miroir de la division du marché international de la formation ? Le cas des ingénieurs mexicains du Système national des chercheurs

Cette présentation tentera de montrer, dans le cas du Mexique, ce que produit la division du champ international de la formation sur la structuration du “champ” de l’ingénierie. À l’aide des données de la base du Système national des chercheurs (SNI) mexicains, dont est membre notre population de référence, nous tenterons de mettre en évidence les dynamiques de regroupement des ingénieurs sur la base de leurs formations. Nous verrons ainsi que, si le champ international de la formation est hiérarchisé en pôles d’inégales attractivité, spécialisation disciplinaire et influence, le Mexique lui-même est « divisé » en fonction des pôles de formation de ses chercheurs, en l’occurrence ingénieurs. À la division internationale du champ de formation correspond, en miroir, une division de “l’espace de l’ingénierie » au Mexique. Ce constat nous conduira à explorer, par l’analyse des lieux de formation et institutions dans lesquelles exercent les ingénieurs du SNI, distingués par sous-disciplines, l’hypothèse d’une existence de réseaux entre institutions étrangères de formation et institutions mexicaines d’ingénierie. Nous verrons notamment que les liens entretenus entre les pôles professionnels mexicains d’ingénierie recherche et les pôles étrangers de formation ont tous les traits d’un « effet réseau » entre les ingénieurs et des écoles étrangères de formation, non moins que ceux d’une « chaîne scientifique » entre institutions étrangères de formation et institutions mexicaines de recherche en ingénierie. En un sens, l’affiliation commune des ingénieurs à une « culture » étrangère donnée constitue le creuset de « collectifs professionnels » au Mexique. Ces collectifs apparaissent ainsi davantage comme le produit de la division du champ international de formation, davantage que celui d’une construction politique de l’ingénierie mexicaine.

Book : Waste management in India and Brazil

1430404312La ruée vers l’ordure. Conflits dans les mines urbaines de déchets

Jérémie Cavé

“Qu’est-ce qu’un déchet aujourd’hui dans une ville ordinaire de pays émergent, ce que les habitants jettent ou bien ce que personne ne récupère ? Cet ouvrage se focalise sur les conflits d’appropriation auxquels les déchets donnent lieu à Vitória (Brésil) et à Coimbatore (Inde). En déployant une écologie politique, l’auteur dévoile un renversement en cours : les déchets sont de plus en plus perçus comme des ressources potentielles et les villes comme de véritables « mines urbaines ».”

Pour en savoir plus :

ENGIND Seminar : Bérénice Girard – Controversies on a sacred resource. The engineers and the management of the Ganga. Religion, Environment and Development.

IMG_2601Le troisième atelier de l’ANR ENGIND – Ingénieurs et société en Inde coloniale et post-coloniale se tiendra le 20 Avril 2015

de 14h à 17h, en salle 638, CEIAS-EHESS, 6e étage, 190-198 avenue de France, Paris. 
Métros : Bibliothèque (ligne 14) ou Quai de la gare (ligne 6)

Bérénice GIRARD (Doctorante – CEIAS – ENGIND)

Discutante : Olivia Aubriot (Centre d’Etudes Himalayennes – CNRS)

Controverses sur une ressource sacrée : les ingénieurs et la gestion du Gange, entre religion, environnement et développement.  

English below

La situation environnementale dégradée du Gange émerge comme un objet de politique publique lorsque Indira Gandhi, Premier Ministre, demande la réalisation d’une étude complète sur l’état du fleuve. Le contexte politique est favorable, la conférence de Stockholm a eu lieu en 1972, le Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act a été voté en 1974 et le gouvernement d’Indira Gandhi investit la question environnementale. De manière concomitante, la première association de protection du Gange est créée en 1982 à Bénarès, proche du Parti du Congrès. Le premier projet de lutte contre la dégradation environnementale du fleuve, le Ganga Action Plan, est lancé en 1986 par le nouveau Premier Ministre, Rajiv Gandhi, depuis Bénarès.

Le champ se structure alors autour de la question de la pollution du fleuve, alors que la construction de barrages (non seulement sur la Narmada, mais aussi sur la Bhagirathi, la construction du barrage de Tehri ayant commencé en 1978) fait l’objet de nombreux mouvements d’opposition en Inde. Tout un ensemble de controverses entourent la question de la pollution, et les débats se structurent principalement autour de questions scientifiques et techniques. Au début des années 2000, le contexte politique et environnemental, lié au Gange, évolue.

Continue reading

Call for Papers : The EU and the Emerging Powers


April 2015, Brussels

The Political Sciences Louvain-Europe Institute of the Université catholique de Louvain, the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies of the University of Leuven, the Center for International Relations Studies of the Department of Political Science of the University of Liège, the Department of Political Science of Ghent University, the Institute for European Studies of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Institute for European studies of the Saint Louis University Brussels and the Madariaga College of Europe Foundation invite experts to contribute a paper which focuses on the relations between the European Union and emerging powers. The papers will be presented at an International Conference that will take place in Brussels in the last week  of April 2015.

Call for Papers available here

Deadline for Submission of Paper Proposals: 10th of November 2014

Registration & Abstract Submission here

Book : Nuclear Research in India

Jahnavi Phalkey, Atomic State. Big Science in Twentieth-Century India. Delhi : Permanent Black, 2013

“In 1974 India conducted what it called peaceful nuclear tests. These demonstrated that the country possessed the technology required to make atom bombs. In historical accounts, this explosive achievement has come to be seen as the culmination of a state s efforts at capacity building and self-reliance through big science.

Questioning the received wisdom, Jahnavi Phalkey provides a fascinatingly different history. Mining new data from personal and institutional archives, she contradicts persistent nationalist notions about early atomic science in India as the starting point of bombs. She shows that the emergence of the country s nuclear science infrastructure was in fact tenuous, contradictory, and rich in faction fights which frequently determined outcomes and directions. Continue reading

Thesis : Comparing Engineering Practices in South Asia and Australia

Vinay Domal, Comparing engineering practice in South Asia and Australia. PhD Thesis, University of Western Australia, 2010

“The thesis presents a qualitative investigation of engineering practice in South Asia and Australia in order to learn about engineering practice and the differences between an industrialised country context and a developing world context. Through a series of interviews, participant observations and focus group interviews it discloses the dynamics of how engineers relate to work, to clients, to suppliers, to managers and to each other. It also examines the perceptions and experiences of their daily work practice in two different worlds. The study introduces the concept of dimensions to call attention to the differences uncovered from detailed analysis of engineering practice in South Asia and Australia. The first dimension is the ability of an engineer to coordinate and exercise authority within their own department as well as outside the company and how this makes a difference in the engineering outcomes. Continue reading

ENGIND Seminar : Roland Lardinois – The Indian ITC Sector

ajjcddaj « Le secteur des technologies de l’information et de la communication en Inde. Éducation, formation et emploi des informaticiens »


Le premier atelier de l’ANR Ingénieurs et société en Inde coloniale et post-coloniale (ENGIND)

aura lieu le 7 janvier 2014 à 14h30 en salle 640

Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud/CNRS-EHESS

190 avenue de France 75013