Accepted paper:

Tradition in transition: a case study of Galesh nomadic pastoralists community of Mazanadaran province in North Iran


Shalina Mehta (Panjab University Chandigarh)

Paper short abstract:

Galesh is a community of grand transhumance or nomadic pastoralists (Barth 1960) inhabiting mountainous terrain of Mazanadaran and Gilan province of Northern Iran. The community is under tremendous stress due to development strategy of its government. Some of their villages have been submerged for the development of a dam and the displaced villagers have either been settled in far away places without adequate compensation or forced to change their primary occupation and acquire alternative identity denying their Galesh lineage.

Paper long abstract:

The pastoral nomadic communities of Iran have evoked extensive interest in ethnographic studies and formulations of several important theoretical constructs. Salzman (2002) reviewed four pastoral nomadic communities namely but there are no references to Galesh and Talesh residing in Mazanadaran and Gilan Provinces in North-Iran. The present paper is part of a larger study of pastoral-nomadic community of Galesh living in the county of Savadkuh spelled as Savadkhoh in Persian. The primary focus is to comprehend ruptures that dominate narratives from the field. Present political regime is playing a passive role and policy of status quo in safe guarding the rights of these pastoral communities. There is a deliberate attempt to discourage pastoral people from continuing with their traditional occupation. Construction of dams in the region has displaced large populations from their traditional habitats. There were hardly any state sponsored pro-active programmes to safeguard their traditional life-style and heritage. Given this landscape, we propose to examine several theoretical and empirical propositions impacting identity and survival of this large pastoral nomadic native population of Iran. Younger generation exposed to modern education and sedentary life style and nature of primary occupations is gradually experiencing disconnect both within their traditional occupation and family values. They are also acquiring alternative identities refusing to disclose their Galesh lineage. We will be comparing narratives form the field with other studies on nomadic pastoral communities to comprehend processes of transition and for traces of any similarities that may be

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