Understanding societies in the tropical and Mediterranean regions


The primary objective of the IRD’s “Societies and globalisation” (SOC) department is to understand contemporary societies in the tropical and Mediterranean regions while analysing the dynamics which underlie them. Research conducted takes an interdisciplinary approach to social challenges, with a view to demonstrating their implications and relevance for countries in both the South and the North. The various research programmes strive to understand the dynamics at work in the diverse array of societies. They all have in-depth knowledge of the field and apply their approach at several levels.

In 2018, the Department supported a number of structural actions. This includes support for society-environment observatories such as the Observatory of Small Mammals Indicative of Environmental Changes - case of the Senegal Delta (ObsMICE), as well as summer schools in Asia (Social Sciences Winter school in Pondicherry; Manusatra/ Monsoon university, Cambodia; “WANASEA” summer school, Vietnam) or Africa (BiogrAfrique in Uganda; Tany Voa in Madagascar; a summer school in Morocco). Many of them could be made permanent – in conjunction with local partners and/or the French higher education and research system.

The department also supported the development of a digital library collecting scientific journals published in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries as part of a colonial, or even post-colonial context.

Key figures

Flagship projects

The challenge of universal health coverage

Are policy guidelines for the implementation of universal health coverage, notably for the poorest, known and applied by health professionals? Possible answers from Burkina Faso.

Discrimination and abnormally high death rate in young girls in India

Research by demographers reveal the magnitude of the abnormally high rate linked to gender discrimination against young girls in some regions of India.

Publication of the « NIAKHAR MÉMOIRES ET PERSPECTIVES. Recherches pluridisciplinaires sur le changement en Afrique » book

The Niakhar observatory is the oldest population observatory still in operation in Africa. It has been used in the health, demographic, social, economic and environmental monitoring of more than two generations.


  • 5th Meetings of African Studies in France (REAF)

    IRD participated in the organisation of this event held in Marseille from 9 to 12 July 2018. The theme of these meetings was: « Afriques enchantées, Afriques en chantiers » (Magical Africas, Africas under construction).

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  • Publication of the Dictionary of common goods

    What are “commons”, “common goods”, “common heritage”, “common things”?

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  • Exhibition on recyclable waste territories in Hanoi

    This exhibition showcases the results of two years of research conducted by JEAI RECYCURBS-VIET, in the form of a 3-D map of the 800 recyclable waste sites scattered across the city and its outskirts.

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And in the future?

IRD will continue to play an active role in raising students’ awareness of the major issues of societies in the tropical and Mediterranean regions, notably via the implementation of the Master’s degree in Migration studies at the Côte d’Azur University and the “Decision-Making Aid and Impact Assessment of Public Policies” Master’s degree project initiated by IRD, the Paris Dauphine University and ENSAE Dakar.

This project was approved by the technical committee of the Franco-Senegalese campus, supported by President Emmanuel Macron and his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall.