Accepted paper:

Shepherds' choices: trends and changes in the nomadic pastoralist livelihood of Rabari of Kutch (NW India)


Matthieu Salpeteur (CNRS, UMR 5175)

Paper short abstract:

The socio-economical situation changes fast in Kutch, leading to a progressive abandonment of the nomadic pastoral livelihood by the Rabari community. We examine the impact of these changes on identity construction by individuals and question the idea of resilience when applied to this case.

Paper long abstract:

As the most important semi-nomadic pastoralist community of the Kutch area (Gujarat, India), the Rabari have faced important changes through all their recent history: new political borders on their migration routes, global market Migration in- and out-of-state was a mean - among others - to cope with these changes as well as with the seasonal fluctuation of natural resources.exposition, "green revolution" and development of the dairy industry. But since the earthquake of 2001, major transformations are occurring in the Kutch area, at very fast pace, sustaining strong incentives to leave the pastoralist livelihood. On one hand the industrial development sustained by state policies has lead to a significant increase of the local labour market and of all facilities, including education, in this previously marginal area; on the other hand access to pasture areas is increasingly difficult, in Gujarat as well as in other states. If some individuals develop strategies to maintain this livelihood, the main trend among young generation is to switch to other occupation, the nomadic pastoral option being regarded with decreasing interest. This paper will therefore examine, through the study of a set of individual itineraries, the choices and strategies developed in this fast evolving situation. This will enable us to first question the role played by the nomadic pastoralist way of life in the construction of a Rabari identity by individuals, and in a second step to highlight some limits of the notion of resilience when applied to this specific situation.

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