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Caroline Sarrazin (affiliated to CEH) defends her doctoral thesis on Monday 22 June 2020 at 3.30pm, Campus Condorcet

Caroline’s supervisors are Joëlle Smadja, CEH senior researcher, and Olivia Aubriot, CEH researcher


Title of the thesis

Pokhari in the plains of Nepal: multi-purpose ponds or ponds used exclusively for fish farming in the tense context of territorial transformations
in the eastern Terai

pesented by Caroline Sarrazin, PhD student affiliated to CEH
The viva will be held on Monday 22 June 2020, at 3.30pm, in room 0.004 on the ground floor of Bâtiment de recherche Nord du Campus Condorcet (cf. map and location of Bât. de Rech. Nord). Entrance via 15 rue Waldeck-Rochet. Metro station : Front Populaire.

Given the exceptional circumstances, there are two possible options if you wish to attend the viva :

  • On Campus Condorcet : in this case, in compliance with social distancing rules, the room will only be able to accommodate 25 people. Please inform me of your presence by email : caroline.sarrazin1[at]

  • Via Zoom : by clicking on the following link without necessarily downloading the application (please connect between 3.15pm and 3.30pm so that we can start on time) :
    Heure : 22 juil. 2020 03:00pm Paris
    ID de réunion : 872 2842 7609

Panel of examiners :
DERIOZ Pierre, lecturer, Avignon Université : rapporteur
GAUTIER-COSTARD Emmanuèle, professor, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne : rapportrice
COCHET Hubert, professor, AgroParisTech : examinateur
GHIOTTI Stéphane, researcher, ART-Dev - UMR5281, CNRS : examinateur
AUBRIOT Olivia, researcher, Centre d’études himalayennes, CNRS : co-Directrice
SMADJA Joëlle, senior researcher, Centre d’études himalayennes, CNRS : Directrice


The management of resources, whether land or water, is one of the major contemporary challenges rural societies are facing. In the eastern Tarai Plain (Nepal), with its high population densities (more than 500 inhabitants/km²), territorial restructurings have led village communities to encounter strong tension over land and increasing pressure on water and land. And they have particularly led to changes in individual and collective practices associated with the use and management of pokhari. These waterbodies, which are of various sizes (from 0.01 to 6 hectares or more), are defined in this work as multi-purpose ecosystems in view of the combination of uses that meet distinct needs (economic, domestic, subsistence) and illustrate fluctuating perceptions according to the water stakeholders. Whether publicly or privately owned, pokhari are managed collectively by Tharu or Madhesi village communities, people from the plains, or individually and instead by independent Pahari farmers from the mountains of Nepal, who, through personal initiatives, participate in the process of individualisation in resource management. Though pokhari are omnipresent in Saptari and Sunsari districts, our two study areas, it was only from the 1990s onwards that they became the target of public policies aimed at increasing the productivity of the territory through the development of intensive agricultural techniques guaranteeing high yields: this includes intensive fish farming in pokhari, which is developing exponentially thanks to the auctioning of individual and private exploitation permits for formerly collective waterbodies.

This PhD thesis combines a qualitative and quantitative approach: a typology is constructed for analysing the characteristics of 232 waterbodies located in Saptari and Sunsari; this is combined with a spatio-temporal analysis of the changes in the water surface of pokhari and links the development of neo-liberal government logics to the intensification of productivism in the use of waterbodies. And yet, when confronted with prohibitions on the use of formerly collective waterbodies, some of the communities interviewed in the plain lay claim to their water territory and to the sense of identity that goes with it. The discreet fight against new forms of social exclusion helps us to reconsider power relations in the governance of the waterbodies in the plains.

Keywords : Nepal ; Tarai plain ; multi-use waterbodies ; social-ecological systems ; public policies ; territorial water governance ; intensive fish farming; tension

To download invitation (in French)