Our research areas

Sustainable and inclusive development

Sustainable development has replaced the ideal of economic growth. IFSRA proposes to examine the ways in which the concept of sustainable development is applied in the activities implemented by international and national institutions and by private organisations in the South. This axis focuses on the articulation between economic processes, social justice demands and environmental protection, through the analysis of institutional actors and the policies they implement.

On the one hand, sustainable development mechanisms aim to recognise, legitimise and meaningfully engage the local stakeholders of any given project. These mechanisms impact how local communities are defined, the nature of the intervention, and the creation or reinforcement of boundaries of belonging.

On the other hand, sustainable development mechanisms put into circulation specific norms and objectives that are constructed in socio-political spaces removed from the contexts in which they are applied. Our research aims to use notably a cognitive approach to analyse the public or corporate policies conceived in the Global North, and their reception by the impacted populations in the Global South. We look at the impact of these mechanisms, policies and interventions on the relationship between individuals and the State, including various forms of public power.

The actors who implement these policies have also interpreted and acted upon them in different ways. Our research therefore focuses on these processes, from reception to adoption, by the different social groups. In doing so, we explore the impact of these projects on social organisations, public services, working conditions, the health and wellbeing of communities, and on access to land and natural resources.

This line of research allows us to provide a concrete analysis of projects (on transport, energy, extraction, conservation, land use…) with a strong focus on their territorial impact and in relation to the social responsibility policies of donors, investors and international companies.

Mobility, circulation, citizenship

Axis 2 links the construction of space to experiences of belonging and the rights associated with it. Analysing mobilities allows us to emphasise the diversity of movements impacted by a given project, as well as the rights they allow us to claim and the socio-political issues they raise.

We explore mobility and circulation through the analysis of life courses, as the forms and motives of mobility (professional mobility, commuting, international migration) can be linked, overlap or come into tension according to the stages of the life of individuals.

We explore how the categories used to define mobile populations, such as internally displaced, involuntarily displaced, expatriates, migrants (legal/illegal) and refugees, impact on access to land and civil and political rights.
These categories can stigmatise those they designate according to their places of arrival as well as departure, depending on the porosity of the borders between countries, or the possibility of moving from one category to another.

Considering mobility as a situated process allows us to question these categories and the ways in which individuals and institutions mobilise them. The rights associated with these categories are often the subject of struggle, as individuals mobilise the resources they have available, which vary according to social status, the quality of social networks, and local context.

Finally, we explore mobilities and circulations in their physical boundaries and beyond, paying attention to flows of information. This allows us to analyse how different forms of globalisation manifest in specific contexts within the global South.

Heritage and conservation

Working on infrastructure projects, both private and public, the Insuco Group has developed expertise in heritage issues related to projects with territorial impact. Heritage is understood in its cultural (tangible or intangible), symbolic and natural forms.

Who defines what needs to be valued? How does heritage become a resource to be appropriated, to “reinvent” tradition, to recognise a specific social group, or to mobilise a collective around a project of national unity? Heritage issues can also have an economic component, through the mobilisation of international resources (e.g., UNESCO) and its connections to the tourism industry. As a result, heritage can often be seen as a potential engine for development and job creation.

Finally, Axis 2 focuses on how heritage is produced and reproduced in public settings, including in practices of preventive archeology and museum creations. Promoting a reflexive approach, our questions lead us to analyse the impact of partnerships in public or private development projects on the enhancement of heritage.

Gender perspective

Each of our research axes intersects with gender issues, from the perspective of i) the relationships between men and women actors, and ii) the categories and social roles that are attributed to different genders, as well as how they are perceived in local contexts.