'Pastoralism' on the move: Identities, activism, transformations
Caroline Upton (University of Leicester)
Paper short abstract:
This paper draws on detailed longitudinal datasets from Central Asia and Kenya to explore recent transformations in pastoral identities and their deployment through activism and practice. It interrogates notions of ‘mobility’ with specific reference to pastoral identities and concepts of belonging.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores critical dimensions of recent transformations in pastoral identities and their deployment through aspects of activism and practice. The analysis draws on the author's established, longitudinal datasets from Central Asia (especially Mongolia) and Kenya to interrogate the notion of 'mobility' with specific reference to contested, evolving strands of contemporary pastoral identities and the drivers and processes through which these are negotiated. The latter part of the paper draws on these detailed ethnographic, empirical materials to focus especially on the deployment and efficacy of constructions of 'pastoralism' and pastoral identities in respect of belonging and thus with reference to (resource) rights. At case study sites in both Mongolia and Kenya, pastoralists are engaged in critical livelihood struggles, exacerbated by hostile climatic and to some extent policy contexts. The comparative, in-depth analysis of recent, novel identity-based responses to these pressures provides valuable insights into contemporary theoretical and policy debates around climate change adaptation, institutional change, activism and pastoral futures. The notion of 'belonging' emerges as a central reference point in strategic inventions and reinventions of pastoral identities; the deconstruction of which offers further insights for policy and practice.
The emerging world of pastoralists and nomads (IUAES Commission on Nomadic Peoples)