CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa
Contexts dominated by variability escape 'order' in the conventional sense that associates it with stability. Efforts to reduce their uncertainty by introducing stability only result in increased turbulence. The panel is about the implications of this paradox when working with pastoral systems.
Contexts dominated by variability, contexts like those where pastoralists live, escape 'order' in the conventional sense that associates it with stability. They are 'messy' because they cannot be reduced to a steady or predictable state. Indeed, efforts to reduce their uncertainty by introducing stability only result in increased turbulence, that is more 'mess' (the 'mess paradox' described by Emery Roe). As structurally unstable contexts become more common under the effect of financial volatility, political unrest, or climate change, notions of order as stability become more anachronistic and the relevance of the mess paradox spreads.
This panel is about the implications of the 'mess paradox' when working with pastoral systems. We are concerned with the quest for more appropriate understandings of both order and stability (and by extension of 'pastoral risk') and with the consequences of continuing to operate, in development as in humanitarian aid, or peace building, with the conventional notions of order as a steady state.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
"Ordering intensification?" Pastoralism and agribusiness in the middle valley of Senegal river
In the middle valley of Senegal River, an industrial dairy provides a classical intensification scheme to stabilize pastoral milk production over the year. Pastoralists accept the deal but mainly use the inputs to better cope with natural pastures variability in a context of fragmentation of the grasslands.
This paper analyses the effects of development interventions that profoundly changed the practice of pastoralism in the middle valley of Senegal river. Fifty years of public action, inspired by the technical model of intensification, have excluded pastoralists from the River valley (waalo), progressively used for irrigated agriculture. « Settled » in the dry inland (jeeri), pastoralists have lost the access to heterogenous spaces, between which they moved seasonally. Hence, they have become dependent on the highly variable rangelands of jeeri. As a part of my doctoral research, I have studied the intervention of an industrial dairy social business that collect pastoral milk within the area surrounding the city of Richard Toll since 2006. The dairy offers a model of integration of sugar and milk supply chains to stabilize pastoral production over the year (or even to promote social peace between the sugar industry and pastoralists). Feed inputs are provided on credit to settle dairy cows during the dry season, without regard for the economic viability of this option. Research results suggest that pastoralists accept the deal but mainly use the inputs to better cope with natural pastures variability. Moreover, by its strategic alliance with the local sugar industry, a key actor in land and natural resources management, the dairy indirectly supports a new wave of agricultural settlements in the grasslands of the inland. In contradiction with the social business objectives, these new dynamics could compromise the viability of pastoral systems and exacerbate land conflicts.
Complex emergencies: the resilience challenge in Northern Kenya Drylands
Turkana drylands disequilibria are considered an obstacle for pastoral production systems and planners’ proposals aim to stabilize its resource base. This paper instead shows pastoralism as an efficient production system which works with its capricious environment, and the associate risks of forced stability.
Nowadays the desert lowlands dividing the Horn of Africa from the high potential areas of Central Kenya, one of the most arid regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, represent a crucial node of development plans in the region. This paper looks at nomadic populations living in Turkana County, North Kenya, and at their everyday life with the aim to show their resilience despite the highly variable and uncertain context they live in.
"Turkana is anything but an equilibrium ecosystem" (J. E. Ellis & Swift, 1988:454). The Turkana Socio Ecological System (SES) is characterised by a perennial state of disequilibria, symptom of un-equilibrium relations between humans, livestock, pasture, and water, which instead pastoralists are generally blamed for. Conversely, here entire populations live and survive in a way which appears to be valuing the socio-ecological variability against and endangered by notions of stability imposed by development programs.
Complex emergencies, repeated or protracted over long periods of time, create un-equilibrium relationships among SES components. Moving beyond linear and equilibrium relations, implies abandoning the "jumping-back" analogy (stability > crisis > recovery > stability), where resilience is conventionally placed as the final turning-point to re-establish initial equilibrium conditions, to adopt a more interactive perspective of SES dynamics which values variability.
The analysis of the desert I propose explores the challenges faced by pastoral production systems threatened by global warming impacts, by increased levels of competition over natural resources, and by development or humanitarian programs based on conventional notions of order and stability rather than embracing and exploiting opportunities derived from a complex eco-system.
Improvising Life and Order in Northern Northern Mongolia: Reindeer Pastoralism, Governance, and (Un)Certainty
Riskiness and instability inherent to Mongolian Dukha reindeer pastoralists' dynamic lifestyles are effectively dealt with through improvised gestures and strategies. Regulatory institutions' attempts to stabilise Dukha lifestyles pose challenges to which there are only uncertain solutions.
Dukhas realise their livelihoods with domestic reindeer, dogs and horses along nomadic itineraries throughout Mongolia's northern borderland with Russia. Responsible for the wellbeing of themselves, their families, their livestock, their relations with various spirits, and of the ecological integrity of their rugged, remote homeland, Dukha people deal extensively with immediate and long-term riskiness and instability. Risk and instability are dealt with through cooperation, environmental sensibility, and improvisatory acrobacy in gestures and strategies. In so doing Dukhas effectively self-advantageously order the messiness of life in the taiga, as well as of complementing the latter with livelihood practices effectuated in steppes and urban areas unfit for reindeer husbandry. Although the precise configurations of messy situations are unpredictable, Dukhas expect messiness to continually emerge. Thus, Dukhas anticipate and embody inexact strategies with which they may thrive through skilled involvement in the complex challenges that emerge in messy situations. Whilst leading such uncertain and labile lifestyles, Dukhas are subject to the regulatory powers of various institutions (i.e. local/provincial/national governments, military, Tenghis Shishged National Park) which attempt to order these reindeer pastoralists into stable and predictable areas, types, and patterns of activity. Some of the regulations through which these institutions strive for stability hinder Dukhas' abilities to effectively realise their livelihoods. The role of anthropologists within this messy field of relations is inherently uncertain, yet can be anticipated and improvised in ways which help smooth over frictions between Dukhas and regulatory institutions without reducing these labile actors into stable, ethnographically definable entities.
The Material Culture of Evacuation: Ontological Reflections on East African Pastoral IDPs and Humanitarian Assistance
This paper reveals the material culture of evacuation based on the ethnographic study of the East African pastoral IDPs. Each ethnic group has a minimum set of commodities based on their horizontal ontology of uncertainty that the standards of humanitarian assistance frameworks has never considered
This paper reveals the material culture of evacuation based on the ethnographic study of the East African pastoral IDPs. The comparative exhaustive commodity surveys were conducted among three ethnic groups. A comparison between ethnic groups found that each ethnic group had its own minimum set of commodities that it carried out at the time of evacuation. It means that the set is a part of the "nomadic body" that cannot be left even at the time of evacuation.
It also shows a marked contrast to the case of Amazonian rainforest case depicted by Viveiros de Castro. The horizontal ontology of uncertainty of the savanna contrasts to the vertical ontology of the stability of rainforest. Pastoralists carry out dogs at the time of evacuation, because "a dog is an eye of humans". The perspectives of humans and animals are merged. This contrasts sharply to the case of De Castro reporting that "humans cannot understand animals, because they have different eyes". De Castro describes the perspective of the Amazonian rainforest as the multiple coexistence of human and animal perspectives presupposing the stability. In contrast, the perspective of savanna nomads can be described as the remarkable merge of perspectives of human, things, and animals presupposing the uncertainty.
The standards of humanitarian assistance frameworks have formulated the commodity realm as "non-food items" presupposing the stability of the commodities. However, the ontology of pastoralists does not presuppose the stability, but uncertainty. East African nomadic pastoralists have their own ontology presupposing uncertainty before humanitarian agencies intervene.
The Mechanism and Consequence of "Dai Mu" in Kazakh Community of Northern Xinjiang
"DAI MU" is a response to solving the the issues occurred in transhumance system . It has led to overgrazing, unsustainability of the livelihood and broken of the social- ecological system in local community.
Although Kazakh communities of Xinjiang still keep three-season transhumance pattern of production, the lower profit and higher risk (vulnerability) of individual herder household's management have gradually emerged since the Rangeland Household Contract Policy was implemented thirty years ago, which have caused some herders facing the risk of bankruptcy. Simultaneously, some farmer households in the neighboring agriculture areas are starting to purchase livestock and pay herder households to raise on the pastoral areas. This kind of "absence of livestock owner" is called "DAI MU" in our study. Why does Dai Mu phenomenon arise? And what are the effects of "DAI MU" on pastoral ecosystem, livelihood of herders, and social—ecological system. Taking T village of Nileke county of Yili prefecture as case study area, based on the field works we find that that: 1). "DAI MU" emerged in Northern Xinjiang is a response to solving the the issues occurred in transhumance system caused by Rangeland Household Contract Policy. 2). The influx of massive outsider's livestock has led to overgrazing.3) "DAI MU", in a certain extent, though could solve the livelihood issues of those herder households without livestock , but in the end may result in unsustainability and more risky of the livelihood. 4) "DAI MU" may cause broken of the social- ecological system in local community.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.