The Material Culture of Evacuation: Ontological Reflections on East African Pastoral IDPs and Humanitarian Assistance
(University of Shizuoka)
Paper short abstract:
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
Paper long abstract:
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.
< order OR stability > Working with pastoral systems in a 'messy' world [Commission on Nomadic Peoples of the IUAES]