The spatial impact of microfinance practices in India

Subproject within the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition”, Ursula Rao, 2016-2020

This anthropological project examines the way Indian policies for financial inclusions shape spaces of social action and interaction.

The new institutions of Payment Banks and Small Finance Banks in particular, target millions of unbanked and underbanked Indian customers, many of whom live below the poverty line. These recently established institutions seek to disrupt the mostly informal cash economy and encourage people to use the instruments of the formal banking system to save, pay, and take a loan. The impressive growth of electronic transaction methods is already impacting the way people send remittances, receive welfare payments, and pay bills. This project maps the financial topologies that emerge as a result of the new linkages between policies, corporate strategies and investments, and customer behaviour. The focus of the project mainly concerns urban and semi-urban India, which is experiencing the fastest growth of micro-finance institutions. Through their presence and activities, new opportunities and disciplines are being shaped, resulting in new flows and disruptions, hopes and disappointments, as well as learning and disillusionment. By embedding new (global) financial flows in the uneven social, geographical, and infrastructural terrains of the country, the nation is reimagined and its territory rearticulated. The effect is the perpetual drifting apart and stitching together of India in its global and vernacular forms, or, in the local vocabulary, of India and Bharat.

The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition” will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with more than €1.4 million a year for a period of 4 years. The focus of the new SFB is the investigation of spatial formats and their complex arrangements in spatial orders at a global scale and in various world regions. It is one of the 15 newly established Collaborative Research Centres beginning their activities at the start of 2016 at numerous places throughout Germany. See more details here


Annette Veit
 Tel + 49 341 97 37 220
Fax + 49 341 97 37 229
Office Hours:
Mon-Thu 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Ursula Rao
 +49 341 97 37 221
Institut für Ethnologie
Schillerstraße 6
04109 Leipzig