Re-creating the Commons and Re-configuring Maasai Women's Roles on the Rangelands in the Face of Fragmentation

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2016

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Abstract

"Throughout the world pastoralists today face a particularly daunting challenge of intensified rangeland fragmentation combined with human population growth and climate change. In many pastoral settings, rangelands are undergoing processes of fragmentation due to tenure transformations, as previously communal lands are privatized into individual holdings. Such processes of enclosure have raised concerns over the long-term costs on pastoral communities and on rangeland eco-systems. This paper explores pastoral responses and adaptations to enclosure based on long-term ethnographic engagement in a Maasai community in Southern Kenya that has recently privatized. Detailed family case studies and herd tracking illuminate the ways in which families try to re-create the commons by relying on social networks for free access to resources. In particular, women’s social networks (for example, their kin, affines, friends, or religious associates) seem to play an important role. This paper calls attention to the need to better understand women’s changing roles in pastoral governance and production and the implications these new roles have for women’s well-being and for pastoralism in the face of fragmentation."

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fragmentation, gender, governance and politics, pastoralism, rangelands

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