Lands of the Future - Futuremaking with Pastoralists in Africa
Echi Christina Gabbert, Institut für Ethnologie, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Günther Schlee, Max Planck Institut für ethnologische Forschung, Halle/Saale
The panel will discuss the future role of agro-pastoralists in the 21rst century within the rapidly changing challenges around land use, land investment, state-building, high modernism, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Positive futuremaking starts when space, time and land with its inhabitants are brought and thought together, when diverse forms of life on, with and off the land can be accepted as valid elements of futuremaking; when unnecessary distinctions among livelihoods and forms of existence are overcome; and when all members of society are trusted to cooperate to build states on peaceful terms. Furthermore, when social, ecological and economic factors are not construed as antagonistic but as integral parts of futuremaking, then knowledge about the land fosters knowledge about the world. While there is sufficient evidence that pastoralism is a rather sophisticated way of life in certain areas of the world, state policies for pastoral territories in Africa, continue to ignore inclusive solutions that challenge ‘modernist‘ preconceptions of progress that by definition exclude pastoralists. The ties between pastoralists and states have been stressed and ruptured for centuries. Divisions are created between those who consider themselves modern, or open to modernity and progress, and those who are denigrated as backward and uninformed. Yet, mutual futuremaking by states and pastoralists is possible if differences beyond the
modern/backward divide are also regarded as opportunities. To address these challenges,
misconceptions about pastoralists need to be corrected to foster more holistic discourses
about food providers, well-being, sustainability and peaceful futures. This is crucial for a
peaceful living together that cannot be built upon or sustained by way of stigmatization and exclusion of pastoralists. What then can pastoralism contribute to peaceful futuremaking?
We are looking for theoretical and empirical contributions that discuss the role that
pastoralists in Africa can play in the search for alternatives and deep transformation in the
fields of land use, livestock and crisis management, innovation, change and democratic
egalitarian principles, state-building, land rights, human rights and peace formation,
alternative economies and sustainability.