En Fr



  • Centre d'Etudes Himalayennes
    UPR 299 - CNRS
  • Campus Condorcet
  • 2, cours des Humanités
  • 93322 Aubervilliers Cedex
  • France
  • Tel : 01 88 12 11 03
  • himalaya[at]
  • Venir nous voir
  • Intranet

Accueil > Recherche > Axes de recherche

Territories, networks, borders

Coordinated by : P. Ramirez ; members of CEH : O. Aubriot, T. Bruslé, S. Gros , J. Picard, N. Sihlé, J. Smadja ; Associate membres : Rémi Chaix, Emilie Crémin, Gisèle Krauskopff, Ornella Puschiasis, Blandine Ripert, Grégoire Schlemmer, Caroline Sarrazin, Brigitte Steinmann

For several years, the relationship between territories, networks and borders has been a privileged axis of our common reflection, based on constantly evolving themes. Our aim is to highlight the major dynamics of Himalayan geography and anthropology by comparing the spatial and topological positioning of different types of observed facts. The method adopted considers both the territory and the network as two relevant dimensions and serves to examine their mutual structuring relationships. The networks considered are of different forms and associate either individuals, representations or artefacts (infrastructures, habitat, tools...).

We will first pursue our work on phenomena that we have been able to shed light on in the past and whose importance for present-day societies merits long-term investigations, such as territorial restructurings due to hydraulic or hydroelectric projects and the extension of protected natural areas, which generate conflicts. Fuelled by a burgeoning ethnic essentialism, aspirations to create exclusive territories (homelands) have disrupted spatial organisations based on older paradigms. New fieldwork will be opened, mostly on a regional scale. For example, we will set out to understand how religious institution networks, state forms and ethnic communities can generate each other mutually. We will also continue our work on margins, borders and the plain-mountain relationship, especially with regards the Tarai, the southern Nepalese plain which is now home to more than half the country’s population. Reflections on margins in this part of Asia are all the more necessary to be able to go beyond the major dichotomous models that oppose plains and mountains. The margins are the site of specific dynamics that cannot be reduced to hybridisations or transitions, nor to the limits of state sovereignty.

We will continue our reflections on the construction of a "Himalayan area". This issue goes beyond the borders of our own field and concerns the relevance of the cultural area as a methodological bias. Indeed, radical critiques of culturalism have still not provided a new model for describing the cultural boundaries that we hold to be real. We would like to demonstrate that the legitimate rejection of a cultural area conceived as closed and unchanging should not deprive us of the possibility of a coherent description and comparison. In concrete terms, this approach will be based on two undertakings. The elaboration of a summary book, the exact form of which – somewhere between an atlas and a manual - remains to be defined, will allow us to assemble via a didactic approach (and by relying on the unit’s cartographic skills) the most significant results of our recent research. In addition, a study of the historical constitution of knowledge on the Himalayas will enable us to get a better understanding of the place our current research occupies in the series of developments that have gone from orientalist works to multi-sited anthropologies and village monographs.

One of the major developments in our region, both at national level and on the scale of a family or individual, has been the surge in international labour migration which, in Nepal, has resulted in more than 500,000 departures per year and the generated income of which corresponds to 30% of GDP. In migrants’ home regions, we will take a close look at the upheavals that migrations have caused in the spatial configurations of inhabited sites and at the economic relations between local actors, between town and country, or else between mountain and plain, with for example the rise in "businesses" that are set up by returning migrants, the decline in farming activities or rurbanisation. Research undertaken simultaneously on sites of employment and sites of origin will make it possible to grasp a better understanding of the interactions between migratory networks and territorial configurations, for example in the case of Everest Sherpas who have settled in New York.

Lastly, weekly markets and fairs represent very important hubs in the Himalayan world, not only for the circulation of goods but also for the circulation of linguistic and cultural elements, and as religious and political centres. The sociology and history of these sites, where networks and flows are articulated, appear to us to be increasingly essential for understanding the anthropological genesis of this region.


Aubriot O., Faulon M., Sacareau I., Puschiasis O., Jacquemet E., Smadja J., André-Lamat V., Abadia C., Muller A., "Reconfiguration of the Water–Energy–Food Nexus in the Everest Tourist Region of Solu-Khumbu, Nepal", Mountain Research and Development 39(1), (18 June 2019).

Gros S. (ed.), Frontier Tibet : Patterns of Change in the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands. Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press (coll. “Asian Borderlands”), 2019 [open access]

Gros, Stéphane, Kamala Russell et William F. Stafford, Jr., workshop “Topology as Method”. University of California, Berkeley, 6–7 April 2019.

Ramirez P., “De la secte à la tribu. Les Moran et Matak du Haut-Assam”, Moussons, 40, 2022, pp. 119–150.

Ramirez, P. (2016a). Conversions, population movements and ethno-cultural landscape in the Assam-Meghalaya borderlands. Asian Ethnicity, 17(3), 340–352.

Ramirez, P. (2016b). Un paysage de noms : Génonymes, clans et ethnicités dans l’Inde du Nord-Est. Onoma, 51, 223–246.

Ramirez, P. (2017a). Matrimonial Patterns and Trans-Ethnic Entities. In P. Parrend, P. Bourgine, & P. Collet, First Complex Systems Digital Campus World E-Conference 2015 (pp. 157–165). Springer.

Valadaud R. and Aubriot O. 2019, “Dialectiques hydrosociales à l’épreuve. Décrypter la dimension politique d’objets d’irrigation au Népal”, Développement Durable et Territoires 10 (3) 2019.