Accepted paper:

Translocality reversed. The creation of "remoteness" in pastoral East Pokot, Kenya.


Hauke-Peter Vehrs (University of Cologne)

Paper short abstract:

Pastoral Pokot in northern Baringo County perpetuate the notion of “locality” in their neighbourhood communities along strong kinship and livestock friendship ties, against the background of several long- and medium-term changes, such as environmental change and livelihood diversification.

Paper long abstract:

In East Pokot, pastoralism has undergone several changes in the past two hundred years, and pastoral livelihoods underwent times of specialisation of cattle husbandry in the 19th century and livelihood diversification in the 20th century (Bollig and Oesterle 2013). Nowadays, besides ongoing long- and medium-term transformations, rapid changes confront pastoralists with unprecedented challenges. In 2014, The Geothermal Development Company (GDC) started to construct murram roads in East Pokot for the exploration of thermal energy. Another huge project is planned, the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) corridor. These infrastructure projects offer new opportunities, e.g. health services and transportation of goods and people. Though the structures for mobility are developing rapidly, pastoral Pokot strongly perpetuate their "remoteness", despite the short distances to flourishing cities, such as Marigat and Nakuru. With reference to translocal processes and their "socio-spatial dynamics and processes of simultaneity and identity formation that transcend boundaries" (Greiner and Sakdapolrak 2013: 373), I argue that the reverse is the case of pastoral Pokot. Instead of transcending boundaries, the pastoralists create an isolated space and strengthen the local ties of kinship and livestock exchange. Here, I illustrate the emic perspective on current processes of development penetration into East Pokot and the endurance of locality against the general trends of increasing translocal processes in the Kenyan rural-urban interface. The aim of this paper is to explore the different levels of changes in East Pokot, and to what extent the recent implementation of a development project (GDC) shapes the local context of pastoralists.

panel P067
New mobilities and translocal social practices of African (post)pastoralist societies