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Doctor in geography

Contact  : Milimoonn [at]

Emilie Crémin completed a thesis on the adaptation of societies to environmental changes, natural resource managment and territorial restructurings. She focused on the Mising tribe in the flood plain of the River Brahmaputra (Assam, North-East India). The fieldwork she carried out for this contributed to the ANR-funded "North-East India" project.

Surrounded by the other North-East Indian states and situated in the Brahmaputra alluvial plain, Assam is a migration route and a crossroads between the Hindu cultural area, the Sino-Tibetan area and South East Asia. Several social groups cohabit and share the natural resources provided by this vast wetland. Victims of annual river floods and of changes in the course of the river, these communities have adopted a mobile lifestyle and special farming techniques to manage their territories and to valorize this milieu.

However, given the rapid changes in the alluvial plain which are linked to the massive deforestation that took place during the colonial era, to the rising of the riverbed after the construction of dykes, to changes in water regimes and to the densification of the population and to new administrative rules, communities along the Brahmaputra are more and more vulnerable to hydro-climatic dangers.

Because of growing anthropogenic pressure on the Brahmaputra plain, the authorities have tightened regulations concerning the protection of natural resources and have changed the trends regarding "traditional" methods of managing territories. Villages affected by shoreline erosion can no longer be displaced whenever the river changes course. The territorial boundaries fixed by cadastral maps and the shortage of land have led to conflicts over the use of this land between local populations, immigrant populations, especially Bangladeshis, and public authorities.

New environmental conditions that directly affect the milieu and the way populations interact have triggered an economic and social crisis, they have resulted in the redefinition of local identities and have fuelled emerging claims over territory, prompting socio-spatial reconfigurations.

How do communities along the Brahmaputra perceive the constraints of the river environment ? What strategies do they use to adapt to changes in the Brahmaputra alluvial plain and to administrative restrictions ? Subsequent to environmental problems such as land eroded by the river, how do public authorities and local people restructure territories ? What sort of territorial claims have emerged from these environmental changes ?

Emilie Crémin’s study is based on the case of the Mising tribe and its exchanges with other communities in the plain.
Keywords : Interactions societies vs. milieus, environment, territory
Fieldwork : Assam, Northeast India
Vidéo : On the Brahmaputra riverbanks


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