Accepted paper:

Everyday practice of Mobility and Movement: Motorization of Pastoralists in Eastern Tibet


Lilian Iselin (University of Bern)

Paper short abstract:

Recent years have seen an increase in road construction in pastoral regions of Eastern Tibet and, in its wake increased motorized mobility of pastoralists. The paper examines in what ways motorization is shifting everyday practices of movement and how this impacts sense of place of pastoralists.

Paper long abstract:

Tibetan pastoralist communities in Amdo, the north-eastern region of the Tibet-Qinghai plateau, are undergoing tremendous change due to modernization processes such as new means of transportation, change from subsistence to a market economy, and urbanization. These processes are to be situated in the context of state development policies aimed at bringing progress into the predominantly poor and rural areas of Western China. The implementation of those state development programs have resulted in a massive increase in infrastructural constructions. Roads, telecommunication systems and urban construction have reached even remote pastoral regions. This paper examines how the expansion of road infrastructure and modern means of transport are transforming pastoral mobility. It argues that motorization and the increased availability of roads impact everyday practices of pastoralists as regards mobility and movement. Everyday practices of movement, however, are integral to the construction of space and place, i.e. to the interrelation of pastoralists and their environment. They have shaped sense of place of pastoralists and informed the way in which they relate to and perceive the environment they inhabit. Research, therefore, seeks to understand how motorized vehicles and similar mobile technologies are integrated into everyday practices of pastoralists and how increased motorized mobility brings about transformations in the way pastoralists live in their environment and socially construct space and place.

panel MMM09
The emerging world of pastoralists and nomads (IUAES Commission on Nomadic Peoples)