Accepted paper:

Livelihood diversification through migration: an overview of 20 years of research on the causes, processes and consequences of migration among the Maasai of northern Tanzania


J. Terrence McCabe (University of Colorado)

Paper short abstract:

This paper brings together over 20 years of research concerning the diversification of pastoral livelihoods through migration of Massai to towns and the Tanzanite mines. I examine the causes, processes and consequences of migration, and problematize the concept of “poverty.

Paper long abstract:

Much of the literature concerning pastoralists published over the last 15 years has explored the diversification of pastoral livelihoods. One process of livelihood diversification that has not received as much attention as other pursuits, such as the adoption of cultivation, is the migration of pastoral peoples to town to seek work or more rarely to become entrepreneurs. In this paper I bring together 20 years of research on Maasai migration from its beginnings when young men went to towns to seek work as guards to the current migration to the Tanzanite mines where Maasai men work as middlemen in the gem business. I also problematize the concept of "poverty" ; the answer given so frequently to questions about the reasons for migrating; and examine the some of the consequences of migration for building herds, expanding cultivation, and influencing political leadership.

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