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Doctor in Human Geography

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In November 2021, at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, Romain Valadaud successfully defended his PhD thesis (in co-tutorship with Paris Nanterre University) in human geography in front of a jury made up of Prof Olivier Graefe (PhD supervisor, Fribourg Uni), Dr Olivia Aubriot (PhD supervisor, CEH), Prof Peter Mollinga, Dr Stéphanie Tawa Lama Rewal, Dr Joelle Smadja and Dr Christine Bichsel.

His PhD thesis aims to contribute to the literature on power relations in the context of participatory irrigation management. Drawing on hydrosocial conceptions of irrigation, this work develops a Foucauldian view of the irrigation apparatus to improve our understanding of the relational dimension of power in the intertwined social, technical and natural reality of irrigation. By seeking to understand the effects of this apparatus on a pre-existing social space, i.e. the rurality of the Nepalese Tarai plain, this thesis explores the encounter between irrigator associations – with their own logic of power – and a power relation inherent to the social space in question, that is patronage. In order to fully explain the effects of this encounter, this work develops, using a critical realist approach, conceptual tools that help to highlight multiple processes of reflexivity, criticism and rupture, generating different yet simultaneous social reconfigurations. By using these tools to analyse field data, this thesis shows how the participatory irrigation apparatus is essentially political in the sense that it favours reproduction of pre-existing power relations, while offering the possibility to modify them. This work therefore concludes that the political dimension of irrigation and of water user associations has to be taken into account in order to enable future versions of the apparatus to reconfigure power relations to the advantage of dominated communities.

- irrigation
- political rationality
- association of irrigators
- power
- hydrosociality
- socio-technical

2015, "Construction de la plaine rizicole du Népal : sous le prisme de la gestion de l’eau et des processus de territorialisation dans le Sunsari" - en collaboration avec Candau Marie-Amélie, Valadaud Romain. Espace Géographique 2015-2 (45) : pp. 160-173. Abstract

2017, “A Combined Analytical Narrative to Study the Politicization of Irrigation Management in the Tarai : Critical Realism, Hydrosocial Theory and Sociotechnical Approach”, Annual Conference on Nepal and the Himalayas, "Diminishing Returns of Resources in Nepal" panel, Kathmandu, 28 July.

Voir en ligne : "Thèse au Népal : entre solitude et jubilation" (in French)