WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn101 )

Re-imagining the ‘Anthropocene’ of Pastoralists and Nomads, Re-shaping Anthropological Knowledge with ‘Relational Ontology’

Organizers

    Shinya Konaka

    Japan

    School of International Relations, University of Shizuoka

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Emery Martin Roe

    United States of America

    Center For Catastrophic Risk Management, University of California Berkeley

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Greta Semplici

    Italy

    University of Torino

    Online - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Nomadic Peoples

Keywords:

Pastoralists, Nomads, Anthropocene, Resilience, Sustainable Development Goals

Abstract:

Unjustly labelled as backward and marginalised by the colonial/postcolonial states and international regimes dominated by agrarian-centrism, pastoralists and nomads have been suffering from extreme poverty, low-intensity conflict, environmental degradation, displacement, and eviction since the colonial period. In recent years, what has been termed the ‘Anthropocene,’ comprising climate change, overpopulation, resource depletion, biodiversity extinction, and related environmental issues as sub-sets agendas and formed bases of UN Sustainable Development Goals, has been making a profound impact on their livelihoods, both in policy narrative (Roe, 1994, 2023) and in reality (Crutzen & Stoermer, 2000; Steffen et al., 2015). Consequently, ‘Anthropocene’ and the subset agendas have come to reactivate obsolete anti-nomadism policies implemented in the forms of sedentarisation (Semplici & Rogers, 2023), land-grabbing and privatisation (see Lind et al., 2020), and eviction from rangeland and communal land (Konaka 2023), which assume pastoralists and nomads as environmental destroyers. Pastoralists and nomads who have already suffered from direct damage of Anthropocene/Capitalocene (Moore, 2016) are now facing additional struggles due to ‘anti-nomadism Anthropocene policies’ with the ‘blaming the victims’ logic (Ryan, 1972). Moreover, Anthropocene policies have caused further deterioration of pastoral/nomadic livelihoods or even withdrawal from pastoralism and nomadism entirely and permanently. However, the Anthropocene of pastoralists and nomads has not been fully questioned yet, both theoretically and ethnographically. This panel will explore the current policy narratives and realities of the ‘Anthropocene’ of pastoralists and nomads through the reshaping of anthropological knowledge employing ‘relational ontology’ (Konaka et al., 2023), which takes pastoral and nomadic ontology seriously. It focuses on the reflexive, complex, and dynamic interactions with their environment (‘Human makes environment, which makes humans’) beyond common dichotomies: human/non-human, subject/object, culture/nature, local/global, and traditional/modern. It also relativises the Western scientific knowledge and considers it equivalent to the ontology of pastoralists (Konaka 2022). Anthropologists must re-theorise reflexive relationships between human and nature beyond the ‘intact nature’ model and reevaluate the human-made environment of pastoralists and nomads, comprising rangeland and communal land, as part of the Anthropocene agenda. Relational ontology urges us to re-imagine and redraw the existing picture of Anthropocene of pastoralists and nomads towards forthcoming UN IYRP 2026 and the post-2030 agenda. The theoretical ideas of this panel, ‘relational ontology’, streamed from our recent book on resilience of African pastoralism (Konaka, S., G. Semplici, and P. D. Little, eds. 2023. Reconsidering Resilience in African Pastoralism: Towards a Relational and Contextual Approach, Trans Pacific Press) based on previous CNP panel at IUAES 2019, Poland (see also Konaka, S. and P. D. Little. 2021. ‘Introduction: rethinking resilience in the context of East African pastoralism’, Nomadic Peoples. 25: 165–180 https://doi.org/10.3197/np.2021.250201). Another theoretical streamline is from Emery Roe, who has recently published significant research on Anthropocene (Roe, M. 2023. When Complex is as Simple as it Gets: Guide for Recasting Policy and Management in the Anthropocene, IDS Working Paper 589, DOI: 10.19088/IDS.2023.025). This panel is designed to bring both theoretical streams to convergence and unleash their theoretical and practical potential through worldwide theoretical proposals and ethnographic examinations.