Elfie Swerts

Formations et expériences professionnelles


Thèse de doctorat en Géographie urbaine
Les systèmes de villes en Inde et en Chine
sous la direction de Pr. Denise Pumain et Dr. Eric Denis
Université Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne
en collaboration avec l'Institut Français de Pondichéry (Inde)
Thèse CIFRE, entreprise Veolia Environnement Recherche et Innovations (Directeur Scientifique : M. Michel Morvan)

Mots-clés : système de villes, hiérarchie urbaine, Zipf, Gibrat, trajectoires urbaines, Chine, Inde

Résumé: This thesis compares the urban systems in China and India using dedicated data bases that have been constructed using comparable and harmonized principles, describing the evolution of the population of all urban agglomerations above 10 000 inhabitants, every ten years from the beginning of 20th century for India and 1964 for China. Both very large countries of ancient urbanization are characterized by many small towns and have developed gigantic metropolises during the last decades. Despite their geo-historical specific features, these two systems share with others in the world the same properties of hierarchical differentiation and urban growth processes (Zipf's law and Gibrat's model), at country scale as well as for regional subsystems. A regional diversity is linked to former processes of unequal concentration of urban development. The most interesting result is identifying for the first time a reverse trend in the evolution of the Chinese urban hierarchy compared to other countries in the world among which India: despite the very rapid recent urban growth, the inequalities in city sizes are decreasing. This may in part depend of the under-registration of migrant urban populations. It also reveals the power of the political control on China's urban processes that also appears in the magnitude of spatial concentration of manufacturing cities due to the implantation of Special economic Zones. Comparing the trajectories of Indian and Chinese cities may well improve the prospect of global urbanization that is crucial for the world and the planet.
2009 - 2013

Master de Géographie
Université Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris, France)
Spécialisation : Analyse Spatiale, SIG, Modélisation, Cartographie, Théorie et Concepts en géographie, Epistémologie
2007 - 2009

Licence de Géographie et Aménagement (spécialisation en Géographie Physique)
Spécialisation : Géographie et Environnement
Université Toulouse le Mirail (Toulouse, France)

Licence d'Histoire
et Unités d'Enseignement d'Histoire de l'art
Université Toulouse le Mirail (Toulouse, France)
2004 - 2007

Expériences professionnelles

Chercheur Post-Doctorant ERC GeoDiverCity
CNRS, UMR 8504 Géographie-cités, Paris (France)


ERC GeoDiverCity aim to provide medium-term forecasts of the way in which the urban systems of different continents will evolve, and to explore scenarios whereby these city systems might adapt to the global changes they contribute to shape. This research programme sets out to gather the main stylised facts making up our knowledge about the dynamics of complex urban systems that has been acquired from observation and different analytical modelling processes, and to use them in new simulation models so as to reconstruct the interaction networks making up these systems. These models will be validated using a multi-scale procedure based on temporal geo-referenced data bases and a new interactive simulation platform.
2013 - 2014

Enseignant Contractuel Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
en Géographie Urbaine et en Analyse spatiale
2011 - 2015

Chercheur Post-Doctorant, Programme de Recherche du Fonds National Suisse « LOGIICCS »
Institut de Geographie et Durabilité, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland


The aim of this research is to assess the dynamic peculiarities of Chinese and Indian urbanization during the last four decades in order to develop different scenarios in simulation models that will explore their possible future developments and changing positions in the world system.
Starting in a first step to consolidate urban standardized databases, the work program enables to specify in a second step, the originality of the urban processes and the structure and dynamics of systems of cities in these two countries, through a rigorous comparison of urban growth and socio-economic profiles trajectories with the insertion of each city inside economic and innovative global networks built by multinational firms and collaborations for patents. The evolution trends observed at different points in time since the 1960s will be analyzed from a solid theoretical background on urban system dynamics. This will serve as a benchmark to assess the potential changes brought by the recent enlarged integration in the globalization due to the development of multinational networks. Because of the availability of information, we shall analyze these evolutions of multinational firms' networks and patents collaborations between 2000 and 2016 (including 3 intermediary dates).
In a third step, generic and adapted simulation models will be designed to evaluate the possible consequences of Chinese and Indian cities' participation to global systems on the future trends of their own development in the whole worldwide urban system.
2015 - 2018

Ingénieure d'Etudes en production et analyse de données
UMR 8504 Gographie-cités, CNRS
ANR MEREV (Mobilités circulaires entre les métropoles Européennes et Reconfigurations des Espaces de Vie pilotée par Nadine Cattan)
2009 - 2009

Assistante d'édition à la revue de Géographie CYBERGEO
2008 - 2008

Stagiaire au LISST CIEU
UMR 5193 du CNRS - Toulouse
2007 - 2007

Unicentre - CH-1015 Lausanne
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Swiss University