Mobile pastoralists and international development: standpoints and engagements

Eric Thrift (University of Winnipeg)
Bum-Ochir Dulam (National University of Mongolia)
David Sneath (Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge)
Start time:
18 May, 2014 at 15:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel will explore the multiple standpoints from which mobile pastoralists interact with international development projects. We ask how, as anthropologists, we can contribute to explicating these standpoints though engagements with development discourse and practice.

Long abstract:

Mobile pastoralism has undergone significant transformations worldwide in recent decades, often directed by interventions from international donor organizations. In spaces where "development" largely overlaps with "governance", we ask how pastoralists manage to navigate the diffuse, continuously changing institutional landscape of development projects, whose activities may overlap or conflict in a given site. In particular, we wish to consider how mobile pastoralists' adaptive flexibility--rooted in strategies of shifting resource use, fluid social organization, and fluctuating herd size and composition--may equip or predispose them to relate to development projects or institutions in innovative, potentially opportunistic ways. This panel will explore and discuss the multiple standpoints from which mobile pastoralists interact with international development projects or organizations, and how development anthropology can contribute to explicating these standpoints. Drawing on our own engagements with development projects targeting pastoralists, we intend to discuss the priorities and pitfalls of practising development anthropology and institutional ethnography on behalf of development agencies or their stakeholders, and how our work can benefit mobile pastoralists. This panel is organized by the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, National University of Mongolia within the framework of the Green Gold Sustainable Pasture Management Project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.