Dynamics of mobility of Mongolian pastoralists

Location Hall 3
Date and Start Time 16 May, 2014 at 13:30


Hiroyoshi Karashima email
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Short Abstract

The aim of this panel is to reconsider mobility of Mongolian pastoralists and understand their mobility as dynamics. In the Post-Socialist Era, their concept of mobility has been changing and expanding. This panel will deal with ecological and social sphere of Mongolian pastoralists.

Long Abstract

Human history is that of expansion of human to space, so it is not too much to say that it is a history of movement or mobility. In other words, human is a living thing with mobility. Especially, mobility allows "nomadic" or mobile pastoralists to live and use resources in their circumstances. It is applicable to Mongolian pastoralists. Their way of life has been based on mobility for long time. It had attracted Japanese anthropologists and some of them carried out fieldwork there until the end of World War Ⅱ.

In the Post-Socialist Era, Mongolian pastoralists have experienced political change and economic crisis, and their way of life has changed. Now we can't understand them as "nomadic" or mobile pastoralists so simply, and need to reconsider the concept of mobility of Mongolian pastoralists. Many types of mobility are seen in Mongolia: sedentarization as "zero mobility", migration between urban and rural areas, and movement over the border under globalization. Of course, pastoral movement continues to be carried out. Now we can see the concept of mobility has been changing and expanding. So, we need to understand mobility as dynamics. This panel focuses on the dynamics of various mobility and approaches pastoralism and society of Mongolia.

The panel consists of two parts as follows:

1. Dynamics on ecological sphere

This part will deal with pastoral movement in Mongolia.

2. Dynamics on social sphere

This part will deal with sedentalization, migration, and other mobility about Mongolian pastoralists.

Chair: Yuki Konagaya

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Relationship between nomadic pastoral livestock and the steppe ecosystem of Mongolia

Authors: Eer Deni (The University of Tokyo)  email
Jargalsaikhan Luvsandorj (Mongolian Academy of Sciences)  email
Nachinshonhor Urianhai Galzuud (Okayama University)  email

Short Abstract

In the Non-equilibrium environmental dominated Mongolian plateau, steppe vegetation was historically used by the nomadic pastoral livestock. In this study, we focused on the relationship between seasonal migration and aboveground biomass of steppe vegetation in the Mongolia.

Long Abstract

In the Non-equilibrium environmental dominated Mongolian plateau, steppe vegetation was historically used by the nomadic pastoral livestock, and seasonal migration is an important content of the nomadic pastoral livestock.

In this study, we focused on the relationship between seasonal migration and aboveground biomass of steppe vegetation of Mongolia. The seasonal migration of a nomadic family was recorded by a portable GPS, and aboveground biomass of steppe vegetation was evaluated by Enhanced Vegetation Index which from satellite data, aboveground biomass of vegetation around the seasonal camps was evaluated by the land true methods.

The results showed that warm season's migration distances which targeted to the forage plants were strongly related to the vegetation index. Adjustment of grazing pressure by the seasonal migration was contributed to the sustainability of the steppe vegetation.

This study through quantify of relationship between seasonal migration and steppe vegetation showed the role of nomadic pastoral livestock to the sustainability of steppe ecosystem.

Changing strategies of pastoral management and mobility in suburban areas of post-socialist Mongolia

Author: Takahiro Tomita  email

Short Abstract

This paper presents a case study of pastoral management in the suburban regions of a secondary city in north Mongolia. This study will hopefully dispel the fixed image that pastoralists have returned to traditional ways of herding and living after the transition from a socialist to a market economy.

Long Abstract

The introduction of a market economy based on private ownership in the early 1990s has had significant impacts on pastoralists in the former Soviet Union and Mongolia. Previous ethnographic studies have pointed out that, after the transition from a socialist to a market economy, pastoral economy has shown an increased preference for a domestic-subsistence orientation as opposed to a market orientation. In the context of Mongolia's transition, it has been suggested that households with a small number of livestock acquired through the privatization of state-owned enterprises tended to increase the size of their herds by reducing the high annual offtake (Sneath 1999). However, this suggestion is too one-sided because the regional and individual gaps in pastoral management had expanded along with the collapse of the homogeneous pastoral production system during the collective period. In this study, I discuss how pastoralists survive and cope with such conditions based on a case study of suburban areas in Mongolia. Based on my previous research, I realized that individual households in suburban areas adapt to socioeconomic changes by adjusting access to land and labor through centralizing or dividing their own herds. These practices of socially organizing herds appeared to have spread in the processes of industrialization and urbanization which began in the late 1950s. This paper performs a comparative analysis between Orkhon District (a former pastoral cooperative) and Serenge District (a former state farm) to reveal the characteristics and transformation of pastoral management in the suburban regions of a secondary city in north Mongolia.

Community-based natural resource management" (CBNRM) projects' impact on the pastoral society in Mongolia

Author: Akira Kamimura  email

Short Abstract

Since the late 1990s, CBNRM projects have established thousands of "herder groups" as a community in Mongolia. However, most of them have disappeared after the project ended, probably due to the commonly accepted design principle for sustainable management of CPRs: "clearly defined boundaries".

Long Abstract

This paper examines how international development projects implemented in the pastoral sector in Mongolia have impacted on the pastoral mobility, household economy and collective activities of Mongolian pastoralists, focusing on those of "community-based natural resource management" (CBNRM).

In Mongolia, the transition to a market economy since the early 1990s has been alleged to require new pastureland management institutions. Since the late of 1990s when a CBNRM approach was introduced, thousands of "herder groups" have been established as a community. Donors funding the projects also initiated the legislation to allocate an exclusive, long termed pasture use right to herder groups. The projects organize herder groups according to design principles: "small size" and "clearly defined boundaries", which are commonly supposed to be critical conditions to sustainable management of CPRs, and the first one of Ostrom's eight design principles. However, most of the herder groups have disappeared after the project ended.

My case studies show that the CBNRM projects have increased exclusionary attitudes toward outsiders, which lead to the reduction of pastoral mobility and the loss of safety net. The projects often have had no expected outcomes, but sometimes unfavorable impacts on the pastoral society, probably due to the above design principle.

The logic of "clearly defined boundaries" is the same as that of the privatization as a solution of Hardin's "tragedy of the commons" dilemma: clearly defining boundaries is essential to internalize external costs. This logic makes CBNRM programs to substitute for the privatization of pastureland in the context of post-socialist Mongolia.

Do Mongolian nomads transform into city dwellers? From the life course and family history

Author: Mari Kazato (Hokusei Gakuen University)  email

Short Abstract

The aim of this paper is to point out that modern Mongols do not look for urban areas one way but their choices of residential place include both rural and urban areas. They adapted to changing society by going and coming between rural and urban areas seasonally and circumstantially.

Long Abstract

Since the 20th century, population of Mongolia has centralized to urban settlement areas such as the capital city Ulaanbaatar, while rural pastoral population is decreasing. Does it suggest the end of nomadism?

The aim of this paper is to point out that modern Mongols do not look for urban areas one way but their choices of residence include both rural and urban areas, going and coming between these areas. I analyzed short-term, personal life courses of them from the anthropological micro point of view, and also analyzed their family history from the long-term point of view. It was clarified that their life courses and family histories crossed urban and rural areas. In other words, Modern Mongols had gone and come between them seasonally and circumstantially.

I made a research on residences of 26 persons in the 4 generations of an extended family from Bulgan Prefecture, Mongolia. All the generations and all persons had lived their lives both in rural and urban areas. The clues of move were enrollment in schools, employment in and retirement from jobs.

In conclusion, Mongols have choices of variable ways of life such as to be engaged in animal husbandry in rural areas, to be employed as wageworkers in cities, and to study or work abroad. They possess many technical, social channels for life based on multi-layered experiences in variable spaces. It may be said that they adapt to changing society by using variable channels according to the situation.

Migration and sustaining the pastoral society: a case study of Hentii aimag, Mongolia

Author: Hiroyoshi Karashima  email

Short Abstract

The aim of this presentation is to show a process that Mongolian pastoralists migrated. It is not a simple process of sedentarization in that they didn’t always move from rural area to urban and become urban dwellers. Mobility of various directions by various statuses helps sustain pastoral society.

Long Abstract

In Mongolia pastoralists tend to move between rural area and urban. It may be understood as sedentarization ordinarily, but it is not so simple. After the collapse of socialist system in Mongolia, the mobility between rural area and urban has been frequent. The process is not always from rural area to urban and the migrations of pastoralists cannot always be explained as a result of hardship caused by economic difficulties or damage from drought or cold weather.

Some pastoralists have managed to increase their livestock and have migrated to urban. The reasons of migration are to bear their children who attend school and to seek living environment for amenity against the dry circumstances. But they haven't engaged to work for wage mainly. They have made their living to sell their products from their livestock. To migrate to urban, they didn't sell all of their livestock. They became urban dwellers as absentee herd owners.

On the other hand, it means that they needed herders who stayed in rural area and raised their livestock. The task was undertaken by the "herds child". They had migrated to rural area away from home in childhood and become residential herdsmen. They have lived in the society for many years. On behalf of absentee herd owners, they have stayed at camps ordinarily. Moreover, the owners' children and brothers in aimag center have migrated to rural area or have stayed there for relatively long duration. Thus, new pastoralists have appeared and pastoral society has been sustained.

Survival as pastoralists: a case study of remote area, Southeastern Mongolia

Author: Takahiro Ozaki (Kagoshima University)  email

Short Abstract

In today’s Mongolia, there are two types of pastoral strategies; that of suburban area and remote area. My presentation discusses a case of a remote area in Southeastern Mongolia, and makes it clear the way in which to stay there as pastoralists, based on field research data in 1998 and 2008.

Long Abstract

In today's Mongolia, as pastoralists are allowed free movement unprecedentedly by law, they move to suburban area of cities because of economic advantage. As to pastoral strategies, a dichotomization is in progress; one with higher density and lesser movement in suburban area, another with more livestock and more movement like socialist era in remote area. This dichotomization started shortly after cold and snow disaster from 1999 to 2002, which brought Mongolian pastoralists severe decrease of livestock. My presentation discusses a case of remote area, based on my field researches in Ongon Sum (county) of Southeastern Mongolia, which is over 100km away from the nearest city.

A comparison between field research data collected in 1998 and in 2008, following characteristics are made clear.

Pastoralists move longer and more frequently than in suburban area without relation to the era. Their movement patterns are basically similar from the socialist era to today.

The proportion of little livestock, which means sheep and goats in Mongolia increased, whereas that of cattle decreased. In remote area, pastoralists' income comes from sales of live sheep and cashmere, although cow's milk and dairy products cannot sell.

The minimum number of a household's little livestock increased. It means that the minimum number to keep their lives as pastoralists in remote area increased, with the penetration of market economy.

As a result, some pastoralists who can keep a large amount of livestock stay there as pastoralists, whereas others who failed to do so moved out, to suburban area for example.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.