Fifty years of research on pastoralism and development
This archive of IDS Bulletin reflects on 50 years of research on pastoralism at IDS. Much has changed, but there are also important continuities. Thirteen articles are introduced around six themes: pastoral livelihoods; institutions and common property resource management; climate change and ecological dynamics; food security, early warning, and livelihood vulnerability; pastoral marketing; and conflict and governance. The introductory article (PDF) concludes with some reflections on research gaps and news challenges. A focus on social difference – and the dynamics of class, gender, age, and ethnicity, for example – is under-represented in research on pastoralism. Increasing inequalities are generating new forms of pastoralism, very different to a ‘traditional’ lifestyle. The penetration of capital and state authority is crucial to this, as pastoral areas become increasingly incorporated in a globalised political economy. Future research will surely focus on such dynamics. Such differentiation, in turn, generates a new politics of elite pastoralism, as some pastoralists engage in land speculation, absentee commercial herd management, or other. Such processes of wider economic and political engagement result in changes in economic infrastructure as well as settlement patterns. Settlement, in turn, has impacts on the nutrition and health status of pastoral populations as dietary access changes. Cultural shifts occur too, often through the growing influence of world religions. Research on all these areas is being undertaken, but the authors suggest will feature more centrally in studies of pastoral areas in the future. The capacity to respond to today’s turbulent world, to make productive use of marginal environments, to make use of mobility to respond to heightened uncertainty, and to adapt and innovate are all features of pastoralism that can be important in meeting wider, global challenges. Pastoralism may be an important site for learning about dealing with financial volatility, managing critical infrastructures, responding to mass migration flows, or formulating policies for disease outbreaks and natural disasters.