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    UPR 299 - CNRS
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Lecturer / researcher
Ethnology and Social and Cultural Anthropology
Member of the research unit Sociétés Acteurs et Gouvernements en Europe - CNRS (UMR 7363)

Contact :
Research axes

My attempt to understand community identity building processes as well as personal and individual identity building processes is part of an anthropological perspective whereby the scientific approach is based on a detailed field study in the vernacular language and the contexualisation of the results of my research with the entire region’s history and current events.

Let us bear in mind that, in spite of extreme weather conditions and difficult access to the valley, the Zanskarpas have always taken part in regional trade (salt caravans along the Silk Road, cattle and goat trade, etc.). A number of archaeological (HP Frankfurt, D. Klodzinski, G. Mascle) and historical (J. Rizvi, Franke A.H., J. Bray...) studies show the importance of migratory movements in this part of the world. Yet few studies (Crook J, 1994) report seasonal migration movements of Zanskarpas. Mention is often made by Zanskarpas and in scientific studies of the former’s participation in regional exchanges which take place on mountain passes that mark the border with Zanskar (Deboos S., "Des montagnes pour vivre, des cols pour échanger : quel avenir pour les Zanskarpas", Université de Sherbrooke, Canada).

So, in what way has the experience of migration inside India and outside India by part of the Zanskarpa community over recent decades brought about a radical transformation of exchanges, and their way to define themselves being part of a community in Zanskar ? We first note that recent migrations have taken new paths. My focus is more on understanding the dynamics and mechanisms that are specific to transformations within community identity as a result of a movement outside and within the community rather than the transformations caused by the acceptance of elements and people outside the community.

This question is the basis for new investigations and testimonies in the vernacular language of people of different generations in the Zanskar Valley.

My research project therefore tends to explore the shifting relationships Zanskarpas have with the locality and the territory. Indeed, to what extent do migratory experiences of the inhabitants of Zanskar, who have to travel to other areas of the Indian state, lead to shifts in the way Zanskarpas position themselves in relation to their place of birth ?

So, my project is in keeping with the framework of the research axis devoted to spatial dynamics and to notions of territoriality. The section devoted to an anthropological and sociological approach that pays particular attention to socio-cultural changes and practices offers an ideal framework for pursuing my scientific reflection in an interdisciplinary framework. I reflect on the most recent transformations observed in Zanskar.

This desert landscape, with its specific ecological characteristics, has been governed by a strict land law since 1947 (the year of Partition between India and Pakistan). Only Zanskarpas, native of Zanskar and able to prove to the administration their origin, are allowed to set up a business in Zanskar and to buy land. Hence, these people listed as belonging to the "Boto scheduled tribe" are courted by European charities, by actors from the private (tertiary and industry) sector with the aim of acquiring plots of land to pursue their experiments and financial gains (fertilizer tests, GMO seeds...).

Indeed, this territory is coveted by both Indian and European tourism agencies, which attract more trekkers and pilgrims every year, and has become a place for experimentation and studies in glaciology and environmental sciences. In addition, as part of the expansion of their market share, more and more agri-food industries are promoting mini greenhouses in Zanskar. These same industries initially give them free of charge, then sell very expensive fertilizers and GMO seeds to Zanskarpas farmers, promising them better yields.

Keywords : Himalayas, Zangskar, India, Islam, Buddhism, Territory, Ritual, Migrations, Political anthropology, Circulation and exchanges
Selected bibliography

Book in own name
2010 Être musulman au Zanskar, Himalaya indien, Editions Universitaires Européennes, Saarbrücken, ISBN 978-613-1-52976-4, 236 pages, 60 figures et photos, 15 tableaux, Index des termes en langue vernaculaire utilisés.

Book chapter in own name
2014 "Constructions et négociations identitaires face aux fondamentalismes religieux : le cas des Zanskarpas, Himalaya indien" in Myriam Klinger et Sébastien Schehr (eds) : Les dynamiques sociales et leurs conflits : mobilisations, régulations, représentations, coll. Sociétés Religions Politiques, N°26, éd. Université de Savoie, Chambéry, pages 119-132

2012 "Tourism promotes the folkarisation process. The case of Kargil and Zanskar festival" in F.Duhart, D.Dias Benavides (eds) : Cuerpos y Folklore(s) : Herencias, construcciones y performencias, R&F, Lima, pages 170-181

2012 "Consequences of Road Construction in Padum, Zanskar Valley, Nothern India" in Laine, N., Subba, T.B. (eds) : Nature, Environment and Society : Conservation, Governance and Transformation of Nature in India. Delhi : Orient Blackswan, pages 211-220

Article in own name in journal with Scientific Reading Committee
2017 "Traditional and modern crossing process exchange in a Buddhist–Muslim society, Case studied : the Zangskar valley in the great Indian Himalayas" In special Issue eReligious diversity in Asia" edited by Lionel Obadia, Approaching Religion, Vol. 7, No. 1, April 2017, Finlande, pages 32-45

2017 "‘Pene (r)tsogpo’ (L’argent [roupies] c’est sale). Approche anthropologique de la monnaie. Le cas de la Vallée du Zanskar, Himalaya indien". In "la Monnaie en Relation" coordonné par Sophie Laligant et Géraldine Le Roux, cArgo - Revue internationale d’anthropologie culturelle&sociale, n°5, Paris, pages 47-66

2015 "Archéologie, Anthropologie sociale et culturelle et ethnologie, deux disciplines en résonance" In "Entre douleurs et souffrances", Revue des Sciences Sociales, n° 53, Strasbourg, pages 176-183

2015 "The Dalai Lama’s Visits to Zangskar in 1980, 1988 and 2009. Reflections on Social and Economic Change", Tibet Journal 40, No. 2. Special issue on "Ladakh, Historical Perspectives and Social Change". Edited by John Bray, Petra Maurer and Andrea Butcher, New Dehli, India, pages 223-241

Selected papers

Conferences in France
14.10.2019, Strasbourg, France "Marcheurs et trekkeurs, traqueurs d’éternel" dans le cadre du Colloque "Faire connaître les Mondes en découverte" organised by Bibliothèque Nationale Universitaire de Strasbourg and SAGE-CNRS (UMR 7363)

01.06.2017, Strasbourg, France "Arrêt sur Images, Approche anthropologique de l’identité communautaire" Interdisciplinary Workshop of Université de Strasbourg et CNRS Images, Université de Strasbourg

14.04.2009, Paris, France "Vivre ensemble dans un contexte pluriconfessionnel, fiction ou réalité ?", Groupe de travail sur la Sociologie des Conflits (GT 45), Association Française de Sociologie Conference on the topic "Violences et Sociétés".

International Conferences
22.10.2019, Mashhad, Iran "Échanger et transmettre sur le toit du monde" dans le cadre du 3ième Colloque International de Littérature comparée "Voyages, voyageurs, Mutations des savoirs, Conscience de soi, conscience de l’Autre" organised by Ferdowsi de Mashhad, Sorbonne nouvelle Paris 3 and Strasbourg universities .

11.07.2019, Paris, France "Being a Female Migrant in the Indian Himalayas. (In)direct Discourses of Fundamental-ism Processes in Jammu & Kashmir. Case Study : Zangskar valley" dans le cadre du panel "What is ‘Feminism’ in Tibet about ?" organisé par Nicola Schneider et Hamsa Rajan, Fifteenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, sous la direction du Prof. Tsering Shakya, University of British Columbia, Canadian Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society, organisé par l’Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris

03.05.2017, Poznan, Pologne "‘Chi tang ? Pene tene Tsampa ?’ An anthropological approach of exchange phenomena, Case study : the Buddhist – Muslim Society in Zanskar", 18th Colloquium of the International Association for Ladakh Studies, Current Western Himalayan Research. Organisé conjointement par le Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology – Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, et Institute for Asian and African Studies-Humboldt University of Berlin. Avec la cooperation du Committee of the Ethnological Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences – Eastern Research Commission.

04.11.2016, Strasbourg, France "One language, one land, one religion ? Being scheduled Tribe ‘Boto’ in Zangskar Valley, Indian Himalayas" dans le cadre du Colloque international "Penser l’Université de Demain : Faire dialoguer recherche fondamentale et humanités / What would be the University of the Future : a breakthrough in the dialogue between basic research and humanities" organised by Francis Kern and Salomé Deboos

28.04.2016, Poznan, France "How new political issues stress community identity and feed religious fundamentalism – case studied : Zanskar in great Indian Himalayas", "Current Himalayan Research : Challenges, Problems or Failures" organised by the Committee of the Ethnological Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Eastern Research Commission) in cooperation with the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland). At Będlewo Palace, near Poznań, Poland

07.05.2016, Dubrovnik, Croatie "How publicizing privatized knowledge is challenging anthropologist fieldwork - Case study : tailoring handicraft in Zanskar – Indian Himalyas", International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) Inter-Congress under the title "World anthropologies and privatization of knowledge : engaging anthropology in public", Panel title : "From Private, Personal, and Domestic to Public : Publicizing Privatized Knowledge Revisited From Anthropological Perspectives" organised by Dr. Shuenn-Der Yu and Prof. Mei-Ling Chien

Workshops and seminars
17.05.2019, Poznan, Pologne "When gods inspire leaders… Case studied : Zangskar Valley, Indian Himalayas", 5th Conference of Current Western Himalayan Research : Gods, Ghosts, Demons and Other Beings, organised by Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland and the Institute for Asian and African Studies-Humboldt University of Berlin

06.12.2018, Strasbourg, France "Effets de frontières et recompositions identitaires, La vallée du Zangskar – Himalaya Indien", Frontières et identités, first joint seminar for the Master Mondes Musulmans, Faculté des sciences historiques, Université de Strasbourg

20.11.2018, Taipei, Taiwan "’Old persons are eating Tsampa’, Eating rice or barley, a question of modernity ?", 4th Strasbourg – Taipei workshop, "Food and Culture Technology", Academia Sinica, National Chao Tung University, Université de Strasbourg/ SAGE – CNRS (UMR 7363)

19.03.2018, New Delhi, Inde "Being from a land or belonging to a religion affiliation first ? Case studied : Zangskar", 20th International Workshop of AJEI "Image(s) Of India", Jawaharlal-Nehru University (JNU)/ Université de Strasbourg/ SAGE – CNRS (UMR 7363)

15.01.2018, Strasbourg, France "Lorsque les frontières commencent par se dire : de l’ethnolinguistique au terrain", Interdisciplinary seminar "Limites et frontières. Approches archéologiques", Université de Strasbourg / UMR 7044-Archimède, MISHA

24.11.2017, Strasbourg, France "Don’t let me be liar facing the world" Teaching of the Dalaï Lama, Padum, Zangskar, 17th July 2017" 3rd workshop Strasbourg – Taipei, "Sciences and Beliefs", SAGE, CNRS et Institut d’Ethnologie de l’Université de Strasbourg


January 2017 Photograph exhibition "Portes ouvertes sur l’artisanat indien", Espace culturel Victor Gelez (Paris 11th arrondissement)

November 2016–Janvier 2017 Photograph exhibition "Femmes d’Himalaya", Maison Universitaire Internationale, Université de Strasbourg

March–April 2016 Photograph exhibition "Femmes de l’Himalaya", Espace culturel Victor Gelez (Paris 11th arrondissement)

Avril 2015 Photograph exhibition on India, on the topic of colours in relation to the Holi festival, Espace culturel Victor Gelez (Paris 11th arrondissement)

Teaching, management duties and responsibilities