musée du quai Branly
The 09 Jun 2017

Raja-mandala: in the king's circle

Court society as paradigm in India

This symposium will look at royalty as a paradigm of socio-political relations in India, and as a 'civilisation' model. It will be held on 8 June at the EHESS and on 9 June at the musée du quai branly - Jacques Chirac.

(copie 24)

India and its civilisation have more often than not been understood through the caste system and the conceptual framework of Hinduism. From this structural perspective, royalty itself could be seen as a political enclave, secularised (L. Dumont). The publications of the 1980s-'90s nonetheless placed royalty at the centre of regional Indian societies (A. Appadurai, R. Inden, N.B. Dirks, J.-C. Galey, J. Pouchepadass & H. Stern, etc.). More recently, Daud Ali has further changed perspectives by adapting Norbert Elias' notion of the Court Society to India, adding Foucault's contributions on government provisions.

Reviewing epigraphical data and medieval literacy (approximately 4th-12th century) encompassing the crucial period of the Gupta Empire, he has retraced a more complex socio-cultural history of the conceptions of king within the framework of court relations. The latter constitute "an arena of activity and knowledge" as well as a long-lasting ethical and behavioural matrix that goes far beyond the strictly political role of the king.

In line with this research, the aim will be to develop various implications of a political anthropology that places royalty – as a particular experience of socio-political relations – at the centre of institutions like Indian cosmologies. The intention is to notably review the earlier notions of hierarchy, Hinduisation, Sanskritization (M. N. Srinivas) and Kshatriyaisation (H. Kulke) of so-called marginal groups, by recentring these processes on the kings and the court. Lastly, several speakers will question the evolution of this royal model, under the Arab-Persian influence (sultanates, Mughal Empire), during the colonial period and since the abolition of the kingdoms in independent India.

This symposium has been organised thanks to the support of the Centre d’Étude de l’Inde & Asie du Sud (CEIAS, EHESS-CNRS).

A publication will be released following the symposium. It will take place on 8 June at the EHESS (96, Bld Raspail, salle Lombard) and 9 June at the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac.

Symposium organised in collaboration with the Department of Research and Education at the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac.


  • Scientific Committee

    • Emmanuel Francis (CNRS, CEIAS)
    • Raphaël Rousseleau (université de Lausanne, CEIAS)
  • Place:   Salle de cinéma
  • TimeSlots:
    The Friday 09 June 2017 from 09:30 to 18:30
  • Accessibility:
    • Handicap moteur
  • Public:   Researcher, student
  • Categorie : Symposia
  • Free entry (subject to available places)
    Gratuit (dans la limite des places disponibles)