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Centre for South Asian Studies: Research


Marginal Populations, Social Mobilisation and Development

TISS and University of Edinburgh have won funding from the UK-India Educational Research Initiative [UKIERI] for an innovative collaboration on the theme of “Marginal Populations, Social Mobilisation and Development”. This thematic collaboration will revisit the old and newer marginal populations – Dalits, Muslims, and Scheduled Tribes – facing development exclusions in India. We will focus on these populations identified as critical cases, to study the intersections of development processes, social identities and marginalisation. Our collaboration will also involve interactive and deliberative exchange processes with advocacy groups, policy makers and representatives of marginal populations, as well as relevant academic experts.
The mainstream discourses of development in India – including those of the state and many of its international partners – are largely growth oriented. Such discourses render social identities and associated social exclusions invisible. However, communal identities (whether marginalised or dominant) continue to mobilise and compete at local or regional levels, by challenging so-called development projects that threaten their interests or by laying claim to benefits from projects that might benefit them.
These mobilisations are not recent inventions, they have a past in colonial and post-colonial history. Social identities and status have remained interlinked with development and deprivations and we need to understand them not just in terms of their contemporary manifestations but also through unpacking the links to local histories of caste, tribe and religion and the interactions among them. In the contemporary context, along with increased economic growth, globalisation has also opened spaces for social mobilisation across national borders. The possibilities thus of mobilising opinion and resources beyond local states to influence policies and development processes in the favour of marginalised have been opened up to new social actors and social processes, whether depending on electronic media or direct, face-to-face mobilisation. In other words, the rise of a ‘network society’ has not reduced the importance of localised social identities and their relations with marginalities. Social identities have increasingly become the basis of (re)producing newer exclusions and deprivations. In the present changing times and scapes, there is therefore a need for nuanced research and a deeper understanding of the politics and dynamism of social identities and their intersections with development processes.

Principal Investigators are Hugo Gorringe (Edinburgh) and Suryakant Waghmore (TISS), and additional members from TISS are Dr Bipin Jojo and Dr Abdul Shaban.

The project is funded by UKIERI and the project funds for 24 months from 1 Feb 2012.


The Edinburgh project members are listed below:

Professor Roger Jeffery

Dr Hugo Gorringe

Dr Jeevan Sharma


Damaged fishing boat, Telwatte, July 2005