VLIR project: Development of a Centre for the Study of Local Cultures at Kuvempu University (2007-2012)

Local partner: Kuvempu University, Shimoga, Karnataka

The project aimed to reinvigorate social scientific research and education at a rural university located in a remote region of South India. Problems: Social science students and staff at Kuvempu University are prevented from developing research skills. The University fails to produce social scientific research on local cultural and social problems. Therefore, it is unable to address problems of caste and pluralism in local society.


Academic: Develop a local research centre at Kuvempu University — the Centre for the Study of Local Cultures (CSLC) — en-gaged in innovative research on local problems of caste/inequality and pluralism/conflict.
Developmental: Establish a feedback loop between the research centre and local society in Karnataka, its self-government bodies, its policy makers and its NGOs.


Centre for the Study of Local Cultures (CSLC), Kuvempu University (Karnataka), Research Centre Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap




Europe, Asia

type (discipline):

Project (Social Sciences | Comparative Science of Cultures)


Ms. Nele De Gersem
phone: +32 9 264 93 70

Mon, October 1st 2007

Project year : 1/10/2007- 30/9/2008 read more

An overview of activities which were realised during year 1

- Research project on caste and pluralism in Karnataka
- Research project on the Western understanding of caste and pluralism in South Indian society
- Workshop series on caste/inequality and pluralism/conflict in the CSLC
- Short-term stays (1-2 weeks) of Indian scholars at the CSLC to give lectures and guide workshops related to the research projects
- Support 4 PhD students at the CSLC with a long-term local scholarship from VLIR
- Training sessions in English as an academic and scientific language
- Training sessions in IT skills
- Training in project-writing and development of a fund-raising strategy
- Development of a new canon of educational material
- Translation of relevant social sciences material into the local language
- Creation of a Task Force for establishing the Karnataka Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities
- Two meetings of the Task Force; development of a vision document and action plan for the Karnataka Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities
- Identification of potential donors and channels of publication for social sciences in Karnataka KASSH building
- Organisation of a yearly conference at the CSLC, Kuvempu University
- Creation of the CSLC Website and ‘Caste in Karnataka’ database
- Contribution to several internet forums
- Development of a collection of literature on caste/inequality and pluralism/conflict and organisation of a separate library at the CSLC
- Expansion and improvement of the computer facilities of the CSLC
- Provision of the necessary IT hardware, software and digital research tools
- Series of open lectures aimed at a broad audience from the local region
- Series of open lectures aimed at a broad audience from the local region
- Doctoral Training Programme
- Bayalu Student Forum at Kuvempu University
- Degree College Lecturers’ Forum
- Popularizing articles and interventions in public debates on cultural issues in leading Kannada journals
- Participation and presentation of the CSLC research in national and international conferences
- Organisation of the five-year international conference cluster Rethinking Religion in India
- Discussion between the CSLC team and representatives from Samvada, a Kannada journal
- Radio interview with Prof. Balagangadhara Rao in Bhadravathi
- Lecture of Prof. Balagangadhara Rao at the Davangere Management Department
- Interview with Prof. Balagangadhara Rao broadcasted on the Doordarshan State Television


Wed, October 1st 2008

Project year 2: 1/10/2008 - 30/9/2009 read more

An overview of activities which were realised during year 2:
An overview of activities which were realised during year 2:
 Research project on caste and pluralism in Karnataka: The students revised the questionnaires and revisited the castes that had been interviewed earlier, covered new castes in two clusters of villages in different parts of Karnataka. Both the members of Ghent and Kuvempu University have been theorizing the fieldwork material.
 Several workshops and close reading sessions have been organised at CSLC
 Members from the Ghent team visited India from 7 January till 9 February and from 27 September till 4 October 2009.
 Five scholars gave lectures and conducted workshops at CSLC: Dr. Ajakkal Girish Bhat, Sufiya Pathan, Mr. Venkatesh Reddy, Dr. Lakshmi Arya, and Dr. Shubhangana Atre.
 Classes for the CSLC students were conducted on English grammar and writing skills. Students were given training in computer software for library cataloguing and bibliography.
 Courses on postcolonialism and Western social science theories were conducted with close-reading of selected texts.
 The research project on ‘Teaching Social Science Research-Experiments in Pedagogy, Workshops on Research Methods and Modes’ (funded by the Sir Ratan Tata Foundation) has started.
 The book Rethinking Religion in India: The Colonial Construction of Hinduism has been published by the academic publisher Routledge in January 2010. A collection of 11 translated articles translated by the leading staff and the PhD students of CSLC will be published in the form of a book by Abhinava Publication, Bangalore.
 Workshops for the PhD students as well as the workshops for postgraduate students were conducted by visiting scholars,. Workshops on ‘Research Methods and Modes’ try out new methods of teaching and research training.
 The preliminary draft of the curriculum for the Master’s degree in ‘Cultural Studies’ has been prepared.
 Several meetings were arranged in order to initiate the state level task force for establishing the Karnataka Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities.
 The 4th Dharma and Ethics conference was held on 18-19 January 2009
 The entire CSLC team actively participated in the international conference ‘Rethinking Religion in India II: Rethinking Secularism’ in New Delhi, 10 to 13 January 2009.
 The members of CSLC published 5 popularising articles in Kannada magazines and participated in public debates in the journals Matukathe and Samvada. The staff and students also participated in internet discussion forums. The content for a CSLC website has been prepared.
 The library of CSLC has been enriched and the books are catalogued by the CSLC students, using relevant software.
 A CSLC outreach forum was formed. This forum consists of 15 NGOs, different individual members including businesspeople, journalists, local leaders and activists of Karnataka state farmers’ association). The first outreach session was held at Manasa Education Trust, Shimoga.
 A workshop on cast/inequality and pluralism/conflict was held. The theme of the discussion was ‘Traditional Methods of Resolving Conflicts in villages’.
 Two public (Arivu) lectures were organised: ‘Hind Swaraj: some reflections’, by Prof. Vivek Dareshwar and “Dharmapal’s View on Local Knowledge Systems”by Prof. Sivaramkrishnan.
 The doctoral training programme included: classes on postcolonial studies, on Christian religion, on summarising and identifying arguments, on ‘The Heathen in His Blindness’, on the development of science in the West, on Rethinking secularism. Close reading sessions of Kannada articles were organised.
 Two students from abroad (Belgium, USA) worked at CLSC on their PhD.
 The CSLC brochure was published in both Kannada and English versions.


Thu, October 1st 2009

Project year 3: 1/10/2009 - 30/9/2010 read more

An overview of the activities which were realised during year 3
• The caste field work was extended to North Karnataka and to Muslim groups. A new hypothesis on the structures of Indian cast groups has been formulated and further explored by the doctoral researchers.
• The research on Western understanding of caste and pluralism in South Indian society has been undertaken through several workshops and lectures. Both CSLC staff and visiting scholars contributed.
• The PhD-students in CSLC have prepared write-ups on their respective topics which they presented and discussed with the Prof. Hegde and Prof. Balagangadhara. They also participated in seminars and presented themes related to CSLC research.
• 9 popularising articles were published by the members of the CSLC on different cultural issues.
• 6 articles, translated by CSLC students have been published in a collection of essays titled Sampriti.
• Prof. Hegde's translation of Prof. Balagangadhara's book. 'The Heathen in his Blindness...' was published in 2010 by Akshara Prakashan and released on 29 August 2010 in Bangalore.
• The number of books of the CSLC library collection has grown significantly. The library has been made accessible to other the students and researchers of Kuvempu University.
• Dunkin Jalki, research coordinator at CSLC stayed in Ghent during the months of April, May and June 2010.
• Members of the Ghent team visited the CSLC in March and in September.
• The Doctoral Training Programme was conducted by the CSLC staff and contained close reading of ‘The Heathen’ and on several articles. English grammar, reading and writing skills was taken up in the classes. Also classes on library managing software were organised.
• A proposal for the Study India programme was prepared and was approved by the Academic Council of Kuvempu University. A proposal for an Innovative Studies Programme was submitted to the UGC and was shortlisted by the UGC Search Committee. A proposal for an Area Studies Programme to establish the ‘Centre for Asian Study of Europe’ at Kuvempu University was submitted to the UGC.
• The project on “Teaching Social Science Research–Experiments in Pedagogy, Workshops on Research Methods and Modes” was successfully conducted. Four workshops for the post-graduate students were organised.
• The CSLC was recognised by the University as a Post Graduate Department for Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies and Research. The curriculum and reading material for the Masters Programme and the Diploma programme were finalised and approved by Kuvempu University. A proposal for the Study India Programme was prepared, submitted an approved.
• Several meetings were arranged in order to initiate the state level task force to establish ĀSHA.
• A state level conference on “Gandhi in the context of Globalisation” was organised on 7 October 2009
• The CSLC website www.cslc.in has been launched.
• Two Arivu outreach sessions on “Conflict resolution and Traditional Methods” were organised. A problem-solving course on “Traditional methods of Conflict resolution” was held and the discussions led to very interesting findings in the working of the local Panchayat system of solving problems.
• Five one-day workshops were held for the Degree College Lecturers.
• Two PhD students from Michigan University, Museum of Anthropology, (USA) conducted field work in connection to their research topics.


Fri, October 1st 2010

Project year 4: 1/10/2010 - 30/9/2011 read more

An overview of the activities realised during year 4:
 The hypotheses formulated on caste classification, rituals and caste system, Dalit consciousness, durgahs as syncretic places and the literary representation of the caste society were tested and substantiated or modified in the light of the fieldwork.
 Relevant western theories on caste and pluralism have been reviewed in the context of the CSLC fieldwork.
 On 21 and 22 August 2011 Mr. Shashikanth Ananthachari, a documentary producer with anthropological interests, conducted a workshop on the “Mahabharata theatre and tradition in Tamilnadu village life” on the basis of his fieldwork. In connection to this workshop he showed a documentary called “Kelai Draupadai” (“Listen Draupadi”) in which a local view on the dynamics of caste relations is presented.
 On 13 and 14 November 2010 the CSLC organised a two day workshop on “Can We Rethink Sanskritisation?”, with the following resource persons: Prof. G. Sivaramakrishnan, Prof. Ashok Shetter, Prof. Rajaram Hegde (D), Prof. Vivek Dhareshwar and Prof. J.S. Sadananda (LP). The objective of the workshop was to revisit the existing notions about sanskritsation.
 Members of the Ghent team stayed in Karnataka during the following periodes: from 24 December 2010 to 30 January 2011 and from 7 to 23 August 2011.
 Guest lectures have been given by Prof. Ravindra Gadkar, Prof. Narahari Rao, Prof. Anantha Kumara Giri and Prof G. Sivaramakrishnan. Also a workshop consisting of the close reading was organised.
 The Bayalu forum, which involves non-CSLC students at Kuvempu University, met two times.
 Joint workshops were organised to train the students and lecturers in research methods and theories in order to generate research interest among the college lecturers and introduce the CSLC research to college students. In total 8 workshops were conducted at different places. Many have invited the CSLC to conduct a similar workshop next year or even annually.
 Four PhD students prepared the first drafts of their thesis. One new PhD student started his work. Five doctoral students prepared papers to present at the third Rethinking Religion.
 For the CSLC-students classes were organised on how to work with library manager software.
 Several new project proposals have been formulated and submitted by the CSLC-team.
 The PhD students from CSLC were trained in transferable (organisational) skills. Most of the outreach activities of the CSLC were organised by them. They have now reached the stage in which they are capable to function in any other research centre.
 The CSLC team is working on a compilation of reading texts for various papers of the proposed Master’s Programme in Cultural Studies. More translation work is being produced. The book “‘The Heathen in his Blindness...’ by Prof. Balagangadhara is being translated to Marathi.
 Potential publishers have been identified.
 Kuvempu University has accepted the curriculum of the Master’s and Diploma Course in Cultural Studies. The courses have been included in the prospectus of the University.
 The CSLC has introduced two elective courses for Master’s students of the Choice Based Credit System scheme of the University. The response of the students was very good. In total 40 students followed this course.
 Two institutions, amongst which an academic institution which is not a university, have been identified which will provide the local support for ĀSHA in the future.
 In July 2011 a pilot course, preparing the creation of modules of social sciences for engineering students, took place at the BMS College of Engineering (Bangalore)
 Several meetings took place with government officials in order to organise ĀSHA in Karnataka. In the meanwhile the interest for ĀSHA is also spreading to the neighbouring states Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
 The 5th Dharma and Ethics Conference was held on 22 and 23 January 2011 at the Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies, Mysore, Karnataka.
 The CSLC team was actively involved in the organisation of the third Rethinking Religion in India conference, which took place in Pardubice (CZ) in the beginning of year 5.
 The CSLC staff continues to contribute to several blog discussions. The website of CSLC has been updated.
 A catalogue of the CSLC library has been made and is being kept updated as new books are purchased.
 Three extensive series of public lectures in different regions of Karnataka were organised.
 Seven popularising articles on different cultural topics were published.
 Prof. Balagangadhara was interviewed by Chandana channel, Government of Karnataka on 20 August 2011 about CSLC research programme.
 CSLC has entered into collaboration with 37 partners which include colleges, University departments and NGOs all over Karnataka to conduct its outreach programme, lectures and workshops.


Sat, October 1st 2011

Project year 5: 1/10/2011 - 30/9/2012 read more

(under construction)


back to search result