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Nomadic Peoples Journal

Current Issue: Volume 19 Number 1

Full-text PDFs of this issue are available from the White Horse Press

Reshaping Tribal Identities in the Contemporary Arab World

Obituary of Paul T.W. Baxter (1925-2014): Tribute to an Engaged Anthropologist
Aneesa Kassam
Saverio Krätli
Who is Making Airag (Fermented Mare's Milk)? A Nationwide Survey of Traditional Food in Mongolia
Tserenpurev Bat-Oyun, Baasandai Erdenetsetseg, Masato Shinoda, Takahiro Ozaki, and Yuki Morinaga

Mongolian pastoral nomads traditionally consume meat during the cold season and milk products during the warm season. Among these is airag (fermented mare's milk), and Mongolia is one of the few regions that retains such traditional food. Through the Mongolian meteorological network, this is the first survey on airag, targeting 2,045 herders. We compared airag production between households producing it and households in general. Results revealed intensive production in central Mongolia, but less in surrounding areas, except along the western border. High horse-density in the central steppes and forest steppes provides an eco-climatological explanation, but this density pattern cannot explain inadequate production in eastern areas. Thus, culture and ethnicity may account forairag's regional distribution.

Caring for livestock. Borana women's perceptions of their changing role in livestock management in southern Ethiopia
Marie-Luise Hertkorn, Hassan Roba, Brigitte Kaufmann
Livestock management in the Borana pastoral production system is performed by all family members and the functioning of the system depends on their capability to conduct these activities. However, in recent times, multi-level changes seem to have affected these activities and the related division of labour and demand for labour. In this study we used an actororiented approach to understand how Borana pastoral women in southern Ethiopia perceive and evaluate their current role and work in livestock management under the increasing influence of these changes. Based on information gained through 58 semi-structured and nine narrative interviews, women's perceptions of the activity 'fodder collection for young stock' are presented as an example, as this activity is affected by both environmental issues and government policies that have led to changes in labour needs and division of labour between Borana women and men.
A Holistic Society Examined by Gender-Based Analysis, Focusing on a Wodaabe Family in East-Central Niger
Fabienne Desray
Distinguishing between the sexes and understanding the relations which are established between them raises questions that arise in every society, to the extent that, today, international institutions put forward gender politics as having universal relevance. In this paper, the concept of individual empowerment promoted in gender politics is set against the workings of an unusual pastoral society studied in Damergou, in East-Central Niger. The Fulani Wodaabe society in question was studied from a holistic viewpoint. This approach allows us to put forward the hypothesis that this pastoral society, seen through the lens of family life, is not organised along the lines of a gender binary with one or other sex dominant, but according to multiple hierarchies of status which complement each other to form a 'social whole'. This hypothesis is contrasted with the international institutional requirement to develop gender politics within every society, including holistic societies.
'Real Bedouin Words': Orality, Moral Authority, and Bedouin Women's Poetry in Contemporary Jordan
Maria Seeley
Jordanian Bedouin women performing Arabic Nabati poetry use oral and 'masculine' poetic genres to communicate politically with a wide audience, as the poetry's distance from women's personal lives preserves their modesty and morality as Bedouin women while providing a means of challenging their exclusion from public life. By focusing on individual poets and poetesses and their works within a dispersed international community, locating content and performance in its social setting, I examine poetry as a category-constructing practice where the gendering of expression and moral authority may be contested and reconfigured.
Demolitions and Amendments: Coping with Cultural Recognition and Its Denial in Southern Israel
Emily McKee
This article examines how social preferences, in the form of cultural politics, become concretised in land laws. In Israel, Bedouin Arabs in unrecognised villages and Jewish farmers of individual farmsteads each faced governmental eviction orders and responded by seeking recognition of their land-use practices as legal. However, whereas Jewish farmers successfully mobilised place-based identities to gain legalisation, Bedouin Arabs' dwelling practices were not recognised as the legitimate basis for land claims, and their attempts to assert place-based identities have been denied. Instead, Bedouin Arabs faced pressures of 'de-cultural accommodation' and continued evictions. Ethnographic comparison of these two cases of 'illegal' settlement demonstrates how cultural identities - as former nomads or pioneer farmers - matter for land claims.
Using Geospatial Analysis to Assess the Influence of Land-Use Change and Conservation on Pastoralist Access to Drought Resources
Brian W. Miller
Drought resource areas (DRAs) maintain natural-resource availability during periods of low rainfall, and are critical for sustaining wildlife, livestock and human communities. This study analysed remote sensing data at two spatial scales in order to assess the distribution of DRAs relative to landuse changes and conservation efforts in East Africa. Results suggest that cultivation has exerted an especially strong influence on rangeland DRA availability across the Kenya/Tanzania border region, but conservation areas also contained a disproportionate area of DRAs. For a local scale within the region (the Simanjiro Plains and Tarangire National Park), DRAs were more evenly distributed across land-use zones, but available sites were generally on steeper slopes. Overall, the area of DRAs that were not cultivated or conserved was relatively small, accounting for about two per cent of the landscape. The area of DRAs available to pastoralist households is likely even smaller, considering that there are a variety of other factors affecting resource access (e.g. risks of livestock disease and conflict, forage quality, resource management institutions). These findings highlight the scarcity and significance of available DRAs within this iconic landscape. More broadly, this study, together with previous research on the topic, demonstrates that remote sensing and ethnographic methods can contribute complementary insights into issues of resource access.
Book Reviews
Review of Günther Schlee with Abdullahi A. Shongolo, Islam and Ethnicity in Northern Kenya & Southern Ethiopia
Reviewed by: John G. Galaty
Review of Elizabeth Endicott, A History of Land Use in Mongolia: The Thirteenth Century to the Present
Reviewed by: Kenneth Bauer

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