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Bénéï Véronique

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Translation(s) : Español

PhD 1993, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches, 2007

Directrice de recherche (CNRS)


EHESS, 54 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris


Véronique Benei is an anthropologist and research director at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and currently teaches at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. She conducts a large part of her activities at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Contemporary Anthropology (IIAC) / Team of the Laboratory of Anthropology of Institutions and Social Organizations (LAIOS), of which she is a statutory member.

Her research trajectory has been marked by a sustained interest in contributing to a multi-local political anthropology, both in the choice of her fieldwork sites and objects, and the institutions she has worked in. Having completed her doctorate on the social issue of dowry in India, in the midst of the rise of Hindu fascism, she was very early exposed to the importance of political objects in the ‘world’s greatest democracy’. In the following decade, she led several projects anchored in the space of school and knowledge production, while carrying out research programmes, teaching and supervising theses (mainly at the London School of Economics, and at Princeton and Yale). Based on ethnographic material collected during regular visits to India, she conducted a theoretical reflection on nationalism, citizenship and secularism, giving rise to the organization of symposia and seminars, which culminated in a collective volume published in particular. at Routledge in 2005 and her own book in 2008.

Véronique has also developed a historical perspective on educational and linguistic policies in the colonial and contemporary periods where she deconstructed the figure of ‘the other’ from an anthropology of language, body and emotions. In clearing the then new ground of emotion studies in the field of political anthropology, she particularly drew on the concepts of incorporation and ‘sensorium’ (Benjamin) in her analyzes on the production of feelings of local, regional belonging and national, thus highlighting the importance of language as ideology embodied in educational processes of building collective senses of belonging.

Her Habilitation marked the renewal of her scientific interests and a geographical redeployment in Latin America. Starting from her work on the formation of patriotic attachments and the long socialization processes likely to fuel so-called ‘community’ violence in western India, she reinvested the notion of violence as a structuring modality of historical relations, social, economic and symbolic. This notion opens up a particularly rich comparative field in which non-denominational, ethnic and/or linguistic factors, such as those of race and class, can play a crucial role in the production of violence. In conjunction with the study of the daily production of a potential for violence, it is necessary to study the times and moments thereof.

Here, Véronique favours an ‘anthropology of protean violence’, which encompasses and highlights the intersections between different forms of violence that can manifest in a social, cultural, economic and historically defined, and structure it. This has led her to start four main projects in Colombia: 1) an anthropology of ‘displacement’, forced migration and ‘resilience’; 2) a historical anthropology of the social memory of slavery, together with processes of forgetting and remembering; 3) an economic anthropology of forms of privatization and globalization, linked to the current resurgence and reconfiguration of forms of socio-economic dependence; and 4) an epistemological anthropology of the discourses and imagination of violence in Colombia.

As part of this ongoing research, Véronique co-hosts and leads, with Chilean partners, an ECOS-SUD programme on National Construction and/of ‘Otherness’: Incarnation/ Incorporation, Reproduction and Deconstruction of Historical Legacies and Traumas of Colonialism, at the levels of the State, Individuals and the Nation (2018-2021).

A feedback effect of these new research perspectives in Latin America has also fuelled Veronique’s attachment to research objects constructed in and through her work in India, particularly on the question of the relationship between politics and emotions, this time based on the notion of happiness, which has been emerging in the field of social sciences and is still largely ignored in Indian studies.

Furthermore, her long-standing concerns with transmission issues, this time beyond the academic public alone, have led her in recent years to explore aspects of co-creation and restitution in multiple forms and for various audiences. Thus, she organized an international study day organized in April 2015, as part of the seminar ‘Art, Politics, Anthropology’ she has led at the EHESS for the past four years, and she has produced a film (2017), as well as a poetic-political anthropology in French (2016), translated into Spanish for (2018). Currently, she is working on a historio-ethnographic opera project and a docu-fiction, as well as a collective volume to be published in 2018.

Last but not least, Véronique Bénéï is also a certified teacher and facilitator of Movement Medicine, a modality of movement meditation and somatics intelligence in which she has been training since 2010. Since January 2016 she has introduced this modality’s tools into her professional practice and more broadly the social sciences, both in her seminar (see above) and in workshops offered at EHESS (eg Levels of Perception in the Field, and Writing Up One’s Materials), and as part of her supervision of PhD students.

This first practical introduction of such a body-based movement methodology and the exploration of its benefits led to the development of a new project, this time placing the modality itself at the heart of a multidisciplinary research programme. Throughout 2017, thanks to funding from CNRS for International Mobility Support, she lay the foundation for a programme currently being developed with British partners, namely at Goldsmiths College London and at the universities of Plymouth, Coventry, Hertfordshire and Roehampton, where cutting-edge research in dance anthropology, social and cognitive psychology and neuroscience is currently conducted. In November 2017, she organized a study day at the Maison Française, Oxford on Movement and / in the Body: Anthropology, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, and Neurosciences. In particular, the discussions focused on the conditions for the possibility of a funding project to test this methodology with a view to improving the well-being of patients suffering from degenerative diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s disease). A first funding proposal was submitted to the France Parkinson Foundation in February 2018; others are under development.

This more recent work has led Véronique to become an associate researcher at the Maison Française, Oxford where she is looking forward to becoming more involved in the multidisciplinary approaches currently being developed there. She hopes to deploy modes of local collaboration as part of her multidisciplinary project, particularly through working with Oxford-based scholars of movement, dance, behavioural psychology and cognitive science.

Productions – Sélection

2017. « Looking for Salomé »: Slavery Recalls. 28’. IIAC (CNRS-EHESS).


Ouvrages :

À paraître 2018. Santa Marta Poética : Exploraciones etnográficas en el Caribe colombiano. Traduction à l’espagnol par l’auteure et introduction allongée. Santa Marta, Colombie, Presses Universitaires du Magdalena.

2016. Santa Marta Poetica ou Dire le politique autrement : Explorations ethnographiques en Caraïbe colombienne. Paris, L’Harmattan.

2009. Schooling India: Hindus, Muslims, and the Forging of Citizens. New Delhi: Permanent Black (édition indienne du titre de 2008, voir ci-après). 346p.

2008. Schooling Passions: Nation, History, and Language in contemporary western India. Stanford, Stanford University Press. 346p.

1996. La dot en Inde : un fléau social? Socio-anthropologie du mariage au Maharashtra. Paris, Karthala/Institut Français de Pondichéry. 291p.

1995. To give or not to give… From brideprice to dowry in Maharashtra – Pune District. Pondy Papers in Social Sciences 19. Institut Français de Pondichéry. 73p.

Direction d’ouvrages :

À paraître 2018. Terrains, Engagements citoyens & Co-créations artistiques. Paris, L’Harmattan, Collection Inter-National.

2009. The everyday state and modern society in India, avec Chris Fuller. New Delhi, Social Science Press. (Édition révisée du titre de 2000/2001). 221p.

2005. Manufacturing citizenship: Education and nationalism in Europe, South Asia, and China. Londres/New York, Routledge. 268p.

2005. Remapping knowledge: The making of South Asian studies in India, Europe and America (19th-20thcenturies), avec Jackie Assayag. New Delhi, Three Essays. 135p.

2003/2004. At home in diaspora. South Asian scholars and the West, avec Jackie Assayag. New Delhi, Permanent Black / Bloomington, Indiana University Press. 207p.

2000/2001. The everyday state and modern society in India, avec Chris Fuller. Londres, Hurst & Co/ Delhi, Social Science Press. 221p.

2000. Intellectuels en diaspora et théories nomades, avec Jackie Assayag. L’Homme, numéro spécial, octobre, 156 : pp. 15-239.

1997. Industrial Decentralization and Urban Development: A Workshop on a Most/ Unesco Research Project, avec Loraine Kennedy. Pondy Papers in Social Sciences

Institut Français de Pondichéry. 165p.

Articles et chapitres de livres (en français, anglais et espagnol) :

Articles dans revues avec comité de lecture :

À paraître 2018, ‘Looking for Happiness in India: Intimacy, the Public Sphere, and Utilitarianism’.

À paraître 2018, « Ciudadanía, visibilidad y multiculturalismo con respecto a lo afro en Santa Marta, Caribe colombiano », Revista Ístmica, Costa Rica, 22.

2016. « Santa Marta Poetica : Aperçus d’ethnographie politique en Colombie », Toute La Lire n°2, pp. 35-68, Editions Terracol, Paris.

2014. ‘The corsair, the bishop, the governor and the runaways: Negotiating slavery in 18th c. Santa Marta, New Granada’. Nuevo Mundo-Mundos Nuevos, pp. 1-14, URL:

2011. “Olvido y memoria en Santa Marta, Colombia: El punto ciego de la esclavitud”, Revista Clio América (Universidad del Magdalena) 5(9) : 112-135.

2011. “Learning to read? Hermeneutic generosity and productive misreadings: A response to Anthony Carter”, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17(4): 877- 880.

2010. “To fairly tell: Social mobility, life histories, and the anthropologist”, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education 40(2) : 199-212. Numéro spécial sur ‘Éducation, migration et mobilité sociales’.

2009. “Anthropologists and the study of formal education: Nationalism, school curriculum and human development”, Indian Journal of Human Development Jan.-June 3(1): 143-154.

2008. “‘Globalization’ and regional(ist) cinema in western India: Public culture, private media, and the reincarnation of a Hindu national(ist) hero, 1930s-2000s”, South Asian Popular Culture 6(2) October: 83-108.

2006. “Response to Akhil Gupta and Aradhana Sharma on Globalization and Postcolonial States”, Current Anthropology 47(2).

2006. “La producción de la madre India en la escuela: Reconceptualización del género y de los espacios públicos y privados” Revista Colombiana de Antropología 42:55-97.

2005. “L’Inde à l’étranger. Imaginaire, diasporas et nationalités”, L’Homme 173: 177-186.

2002. “Teaching of history and nation-building”, Economic and Political Weekly 37(47): 4697-4698.

2002. “Missing indigenous bodies: Educational enterprise and Victorian morality in the mid-nineteenth century Bombay Presidency”, Economic and Political Weekly 37(17): 1647-1654.

2000. “À demeure en diaspora. Asie du Sud, Europe, États-Unis”, avec J. Assayag, in Intellectuels en diaspora et théories nomades: 15-28.

2000. “Nations, diaspora et area studies: l’Asie du Sud, de la Grande-Bretagne aux États-Unis”, in Intellectuels en diaspora et théories nomades: 131-160.

1999. “Reappropriating colonial documents in Kolhapur (Maharashtra): Variations on a nationalist theme”, Modern Asian Studies, 33 (4): 913-950.

1998. “Hinduism today: Inventing a universal religion?”, South Asia Research, 18(2): 117-124.

1998. “Régime de scientificité ou ‘régime de vulgarisation’? À propos de J. MacClancy & C. McDonaugh, Popularizing Anthropology”, Gradhiva 23, juin : 127-133.

1997. “De l’importance de la relation frère – sœur au Maharashtra (Inde)”, L’Homme 14: 25-53.

1996. “Les représentations sociales de la dot en Inde”, Cahiers internationaux de sociologie 100: 125-150.

1995. “Pour une réévaluation anthropologique du prix de la fiancée – Le cas du dyaj maharashtrien”, Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient 82: 263 – 286.

Article dans journal sans comité de lecture :

2006. “Nationalizing children in contemporary India: Schooling, bodies and emotions”, South Asia at Yale Newspaper, mai.

Chapitres de livres :

À paraître 2018, « Introduction : Terrains, Engagements citoyens & Co-créations artistiques » in Véronique Bénéï, (dir.), Terrains, Engagements citoyens & Co-créations artistiques, Paris, L’Harmattan, Collection Inter-National.

À paraître 2018, « Looking for Salomé : Imaginaires de l’esclavage, reconstitution historique, et méta-récits socio-raciaux contemporains » in Véronique Bénéï, (dir.), Terrains, Engagements citoyens & Co-créations artistiques, Paris, L’Harmattan, Collection Inter-National.

À paraître 2018. ‘Foreword: “Courage”, “lien social” and “accountability”: Towards an ethical anthropology of the public good’, In Laura Bear & Naynika Mathur (eds), The Public Good: New Directions in the Anthropology of Bureaucracy. London/New York: Berghahn Books.

2018. ‘Reflexiones sobre la importancia de la esclavitud en Santa Marta de los siglos XVI a XIX’, In Jorge Elias Caro & Joaquín Viloria (eds.), Historia de Santa Marta y el Magdalena Grande. Del período Nahuange al siglo XXI. Universidad Sergio Arboleda, Bogota/Santa Marta, pp. 131-163.

2016. “Nationalisme”, in Anthropen. Le dictionnaire francophone d’anthropologie ancré dans le contemporain, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

2015. ‘Colonial (and Postcolonial) Education and Language Policies’, In Key concepts in Modern Indian Studies, Rachel Dwyer, Jahnavi Phalkey et alii (eds). New York University Press, New York/ Oxford University Press, New Delhi : 43-46.

2013. "Tras las huellas de esclavitud en Santa Marta: De lo discursivo a lo explícito, o de lo general a lo particular". In Jorge Elias Caro & Christian Cwik (eds.), Esclavitud y raices afrocaribeñas en la Provincia de Santa Marta. Santa Marta, Presses de l’Université du Magdalena, Colombie.

2013. ‘Producing good citizens: Languages, bodies, emotions’, in Sian Lazar (ed.), The Anthropology of Citizenship: A Reader. London/New York, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 120-138.

2012. “Sentidos modernos: A propósito de seres, ciudadanos, nacionalidades, y subjetos.” In Saurabh Dube (ed), Otras modernidades. México: El Colegio de México. (Traduction à l’espagnol de 48.).

2011. ‘Modern Senses: Of selves, citizens, nationals, and educated subjects’. In Saurabh Dube & Ishita Banerjee-Dube (eds): Modern Makeovers. Oxford University Press : 270-282.

2010. ‘The predicament of embodied nationalisms and educational subjects’. In Bradley A.U. Levinson and Mica Pollock (eds), Companion to the Anthropology of Education, Wiley-Blackwell Series, Wiley-Blackwell : 265-279.

2008. “Nacionalizando a los niños: género y modernidad en las escuelas en la India contemporánea”, in Peter Wade, Fernando Urrea Giraldo & Mara Viveros Vigoya (eds), Raza, etnicidad y sexualidades : Ciudadanía y multiculturalismo en América latina. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas, Instituto CES, Escuela de Estudios de Género, Bogotá; Universidad del Valle, Cali; Universidad del Estado de Río de Janeiro : 431-457.

2005. “Of languages, passions and interests: Education, regionalism and globalization in Maharashtra, 1800-2000” in Jackie Assayag & Chris Fuller (dir.), Globalizing India: locality, nation and the world. Londres, Anthem Press: 141-162.

2005. “Introduction. Manufacturing citizenship: Confronting public spheres and education in contemporary worlds”, in Veronique Benei (dir.), Education and nationalism in Europe, South Asia, and China: Manufacturing citizenship. Londres, Routledge: 1-34.

2005. “Serving the nation: gender and family values in military schools” in Patricia Jeffery & Radhika Chopra (dir.), Values and education. New Delhi, Sage : 141-159.

2005. “Introduction”, in Remapping knowledge: The making of South Asian studies in India, Europe and America (19th-20th centuries), J. Assayag and V. Bénéï (dir.), co-écrit. New Delhi, Three Essays: 1-8.

2005. “Nations, diaspora and area studies: South Asia, from Great-Britain to the United States”, in Remapping knowledge: The making of South Asian studies in India, Europe and America (19th-20th centuries): 40-69.

2003/2004. “At home in diaspora. South Asia, Europe, and America”, in At home in diaspora. South Asian scholars and the West, J. Assayag & V. Bénéï (dir.), co-écrit: 1-27.

2000/2001. “Teaching Nationalism in Maharashtra Schools”, in The Everyday State and Modern Society in India, C.J. Fuller and V. Benei (dir.) : 194-221.

1999. “Let the Gazetteers burn! Scholars, local politics and the nationalist debate in the Kolhapur District controversy”, in The Resources of History: Tradition, Narration and Nation in South Asia, J. Assayag (dir.), Paris/Pondichéry, EFEO/IFP, Études thématiques 8: 309-323.

1999. “Changing house and social representations”, in Home, family and kinship in Maharashtra, I. Glushkova & R. Vora (dir.). Delhi, Oxford University Press: 128-157.

1997. “Education, industrialization and socio-economic development: Some reflections for further sociological research in Western India”, in Industrial Decentralization and Urban Development, V. Bénéï & L. Kennedy (dir.). Pondy Papers in Social Sciences 23: 101-108.

Recensions de livres :

2014. Jacqueline Waldren & Ignacy-Marek Kaminski (eds), Learning from the Children: Childhood, Culture and Identity in a Changing World. Oxford: Berghahn Books, New Directions in Anthropology, Vol. 35, 2012. In Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; June.

2013. Craig Jeffrey, Timepass: Youth, Class, and the Politics of Waiting in India, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010, 221p. In South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal.

2009. Virmani, Arundhati, A national flag for India: Rituals, nationalism, and the politics of sentiment, New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2008, 356p. In Annales Histoire, Economie, Société 6.

2009. Sam Kaplan, The Pedagogical State: Education and the politics of national culture in post-1980 Turkey, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2006, 254p. In PoLar (Political and Legal Anthropology Review) 32(1): 504-509.

2005. Gyanendra Pandey & Peter Geschiere (dir.), The forging of nationhood, Delhi, Manohar, 2003, 303p., in Annales HSS 2 (mars-avril): 379-380.

2004. Jean-Luc Racine (dir.), La question identitaire en Asie du Sud. Paris, Editions de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Purushartha 22, 2001, 405 p., in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, décembre, Vol 10(4).

2004. Le Thahn Koi, Éducation et civilisations: Genèse du monde contemporain, Paris, UNESCO/ Bruno Leprince, 2001, 734 p., in Compare. A journal of comparative education 34(2): 251-253.

2004. Sandhya Shukla, India Abroad. Diasporic cultures of postwar America and England, Princeton University Press, 2003, 322 p., in Anthropological Quaterly: 389-394.

2003. Jackie Assayag, L’Inde. Désir de nation. Paris, Odile Jacob, 2001. 347 p., in Journal of Asian Studies: 1265-1267.

2002. Patricia Jeffery & Amrita Basu (dir.), Appropriating gender. Women’s activism and politicized religion in South Asia. New York/Londres, Routledge, 1998. 276 p. in Annales HSS 4 (juillet-Aug.): 1138-1140.

2001. Lynn Zastoupil & Martin Moir (dir.), The Great Indian Education Debate. Documents relating to the Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy, 1781-1843, Londres, Curzon Press, 1999, in South Asia Research 21(2): 219-221.

2001. Inderpal Grewal, Home and Harem. Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel, Londres, Leicester University Press, 1996, in L’Homme (157): 307-308.

2001. Sumathi Ramaswamy, Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970. Berkeley/Londres, University of California Press, 1997, in L’Homme (157): 313-314.

2001. Patricia Jeffery & Amrita Basu (dir.), Appropriating Gender. Women’s Activism and Politicized Religion in South Asia. New York/Londres, Routledge, 1998, in L’Homme (157): 309-312.

2001. Teresa Hubel, Whose India? The Independence Struggle in British and Indian Fiction and History. Londres, Leicester University Press, 1996, in L’Homme (157): 306-307.

2000. Peter Van der Veer & Hartmut Lehmann (dir.), Nation and Religion: Perspectives on Europe and Asia, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1999, in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 6(2): 359-360.

1998. Nigel Crook (dir.), The Transmission of Knowledge in South Asia: Essays in Education, Religion, History and Politics, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1996, in L’Homme 146: 293-295.

1997. Anjali Bagwe, Of Woman Caste: The Experience of Gender in Rural India. Londres, Zed Books, 1995, in Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient 84: 26-9.

Habilitation à diriger des recherches

2007. Les passions, l’école et la citoyenneté : Une anthropologie politique et historique de la nation en Inde. 138 pp. plus 4 volumes. Directrice d’habilitation : Florence Weber (Ecole Normale Supérieure). Autres membres du jury : Chris Fuller (LSE), Thomas Hansen (Universités de Stanford et de Yale), Marc Abélès (EHESS et CNRS), Jacques Pouchepadass (CNRS), et Rémy Ponton (Paris 8).