Reconsidering spatiality of nomadic pastoralists: the case of East African pastoral society
Shinya Konaka (University of Shizuoka)
Paper short abstract:
In recent years, besides the sedentarization, the use of assault rifles and mobile phones brought another turning point to the spatiality of nomadic pastoralists in East Africa. This paper explores transformations of spatiality of pastoralists with an ethnographic case study in East Africa.
Paper long abstract:
The spatiality of African nomadic pastoralists has been mainly considered from the viewpoint of sedentarization process. However, in recent years, assault rifles and mobile phones, both are products of globalization, brought another turning point to the spatiality of nomadic pastoralists in East Africa. This paper explores transformations of spatiality of semi-nomadic pastoralists after the impact of globalization with an ethnographic case study of East African pastoral society. The primary weapons in East African pastoral societies were once spears and arrows. However, the influx of assault rifles to the area sharply increased after the 1990s. The threat of assault rifles mobilized nomadic pastoralists who once preferred to settle down. However, pastoralists returned to their land with the construction of clustered settlements. It is the "front line" of the conflict, and visibly demonstrates their territory. But, this led to the concentration of human and livestock population. Therefore, once pastoralists became more nomadic, when they evacuated. But, after that, they aggregated more densely than before. Mobile phone also added new factors to the spatiality. Mobile phone enabled pastoralists to exchange more information beyond their living space. Mobile phones enabled the mobilization of many warriors from a wider area at short notice. The use of mobile phones rapidly expanded the conflict at a speed never experienced before in this area. Therefore, mobile phones caused "the time-space compression." The case studies of this paper will show us a clue to reconsider the new spatiality of African nomadic pastoralists beyond the simple sedentarization model.
Development and pastoralists (Commission on Nomadic Peoples/NME panel)