Mobility, Flexibility, and Potential of Nomadic Pastoralism
 in Eurasia and Africa
 ASAFAS Special Paper No.10


Mobility, Flexibility, and Potential of Nomadic Pastoralism in Eurasia and Africa
ASAFAS Special Paper No.10

ҎҁF SUN Xiaogang, NAITO Naoki
sF Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

In 1985, Dyson-Hudson described a dim future for pastoral societies, writing that gpastoral production systems are a highly efficient response to an environment which began to disappear in the early twentieth century and has been disappearing at an accelerating rate ever sinceh (p. 173), further stating that gthe pastoral strategy so successful in the past is no longer possibleh (p. 174). Numerous other authors have similarly argued that indigenous pastoral systems are functioning poorly and that pastoral societies are facing very difficult conditions.

Various reasons have been put forth to explain this situation. Ecologists point out decreases in both rainfall and pasture availability that have led to drought and famine. Environmentalists suggest that pastoralists have not practiced effective conservation by allowing overgrazing, which has sometimes resulted in desertification. Meanwhile, social scientists note the rapid changes in the social, political, and economic situations surrounding pastoral societies, describing how these powerful forces connected to globalization and modern state-building processes have swallowed up pastoral societies. Indeed, various factors, including population growth, the encroachment of agriculture and wildlife reserves on grazing land, infiltration of the monetary economy, increasing inequality between rich and poor, rural to urban labor migration, and the insecurity caused by local conflicts have exerted harmful influences on pastoral societies.


Mobility, Flexibility, and Potential of Nomadic Pastoralism in Eurasia and Africa
ASAFAS Special Paper No.10

      yҎz SUN Xiaogang, NAITO Naoki  
      ysz Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University  
      yoŔNz 2007N  

The future of pastoral societies is by no means rosy, but is it hopeless? Should pastoral peoples bear the responsibility for their own alleged mismanagement of their environment? Since the 1990s, a new way of looking at the situation has become popular. This view asserts that the essence of dryland ecosystems is disequilibrium (e.g., Scoones, 1995). The advocates of this new range ecology have criticized the former equilibrium assumption of the gmainstream viewh or gconventional wisdom,h suggesting that it does not account for the complex dynamics of dryland ecosystems. They have also argued that many development policies, such as those limiting livestock numbers and promoting land privatization and rangeland rotation, which are aimed at preventing environmental degradation and stabilizing pastoral production, have been based on the incorrect equilibrium assumption.

The alternative view of rangeland ecology demonstrates that pastoral peoples have complex indigenous knowledge of grazing management and opportunistic herding practices that have enabled them to survive under uncertain dryland conditions. To maintain pastoral strategies, the mobility of populations should be sustained. However, their mobility has been restricted because of land encroachment by farming, private ranches, and game reserves, policies designed to encourage sedentarization (e.g., digging wells, building social service facilities such as hospitals and schools, supplying famine relief food, and providing security), and the reinforcement of national and regional boundaries.

Pastoral mobility is not a mere adaptive strategy for raising livestock in dry areas. Because mobility is indispensable for pastoral production systems in dry environments of stochastic nature, pastoral people have developed concomitant social organizations, institutions, and behavioral patterns. For example, livestock management is generally handled by basic units of rather small-scale groups that make autonomous decisions. These units flexibly expand and contract depending on natural and social situations. Moreover, land use rights are not rigidly defined; thus at times of risk, people cross territorial boundaries to utilize land reciprocally.

However, it appears that these generalizations have not yet extracted the common characteristics of pastoral societies. That is, they are too descriptive and have not attained a high level of abstraction. The characteristics of social organizations and institutions that are closely tied to the mobility of nomadic pastoral peoples have been labeled as flexible, opportunistic, uncertain, complex, and contingency-based. These keywords are very important to examining pastoral societies. Fernandez-Gimenez and Le Febre (2006: 357) stated that social institutions that support mobility gare inherently subtle, flexible and contextual.h However, as these authors have expressed, we still have little understanding about the idiosyncrasies of pastoral societies.

To pursue these inquiries, ecological and anthropological studies should join forces and pool knowledge on various pastoral societies around the world. That is the central object of this volume. Most of the papers were presented at the workshop gMobility, Flexibility, and Potential of Nomadic Pastoralism in Eurasia and Africah held on 13 November 2006 at Kyoto University. This workshop was part of the symposium gCrossing Disciplinary Boundaries and Re-visioning Area Studiesh held 9-13 November 2006 in the final year of the 5-year program gAiming for Centers of Excellence [COE] of Integrated Area Studiesh conducted by Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS) and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) of Kyoto University. The workshop on pastoralism was organized by young researchers and postgraduate students, namely SUN Xiaogang, NAITO Naoki, NAKAMURA Kyoko, and KAZATO Mari. SAGAWA Toru, ISHIMOTO Yudai, SHOJI Wataru, and SEKINE Yuri provided invaluable assistance in making the workshop possible. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Drs. Maria Fernandez-Gimenez, Jon Holtzman, and Martin Falkenstein for traveling so far to attend the workshop and for contributing articles to this volume. This publication was financed by the above-mentioned COE Program, gAiming for COE of Integrated Area Studies.h

OHTA Itaru
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies,
Kyoto University

Dyson-Hudson, N. 1985. Pastoral production systems and livestock development projects:
          An East African perspective. In (M. M. Cernea, ed.) Putting People First, pp. 157-186.
          Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Fernandez-Gimenez, M. E., and S. Le Febre 2006. Mobility in pastoral systems: Dynamic
          flux or downward trend? International Journal of Sustainable Development and World
13: 341-362.
Scoones, I. (ed.) 1995. Living with Uncertainty: New Directions in Pastoral Development in
. Intermediate Technology Publications, London.

Preface v
Contributors vii
Photo Gallery of Pastoralists in Eurasia and Africa xi
Part I
Sedentarization, Commercialization, and Pastoralistsf Management of Livestock and Natural Resources
Chapter 1
Climate, Economy, and Land Policy:
Effects on Pastoral Mobility Patterns in Mongolia

Maria E. Fernandez-Gimenez, B. Batbuyan, and J. Oyungerel
Chapter 2
Pastoralistsf Potential and Challenge to Development: A Case Study of the Rendille in Northern Kenya
SUN Xiaogang
Chapter 3
Pastoralism within the Household Economy: A Case Study of Sheep Herders in East Nepal
Chapter 4
Management and Evaluation of Livestock under Socialist Collectivization in Mongolia
Chapter 5
Newly Emerged Independent Herding and the Horse Trust System among Sakha Agro-Pastoralists in Siberia:
Socio-Economic Conditions in the Post-Socialist Era

Part II
Redefining Ethnic Identities and Reorganizing Social Relations among Pastoral Societies under National and Global Changes
Chapter 6
Ethnicity and Migration among the Ariaal, Kenya
Martin Falkenstein
Chapter 7
Transformation of the Age System of the Borana-Oromo People of Southern Ethiopia:
Social Changes in a Pastoral Society Incorporating into a Modern State

Chapter 8
Spatial-Temporal Models in Samburu: Quantum Development,
Manifest Destiny and the Economy of Appearances

Jon Holtzman
Chapter 9
Migration and Acquisition of New Clan Identities among the Ariaal of Northern Kenya
Chapter 10
Social Changes in the Moranhood of the Samburu Age System:
Individual Circumcision and Irregular Marriage

Chapter 11
Comments on Chapters 1-4
Chapter 12
Comments on Chapters 5-8


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