Clotting nomadic spaces : on sedentism and nomadism
Nomadic peoples, 2020, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 56–85
SEMPLICI, Greta, Clotting nomadic spaces : on sedentism and nomadism, Nomadic peoples, 2020, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 56–85 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/69813
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
With reference to Jeffrey C. Kaufmann’s concept of a ‘sediment of nomadism’, for which pastoralism is still, implicitly or not, referenced and essentialised to ‘pure’ degrees of mobility and ‘pure’ food economies centred around livestock, this article argues that, in pastoral settings, sedentism is equally essentialised. This article reverses the traditional critique of the nomadism/sedentism dichotomy by questioning the relevance of ideal types of ‘pure sedentism’. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Northern Kenya arid lands, this article looks away from big cities and regional urbanities to focus on small settlements springing up along improved roads and telecommunications infrastructure, showing that places are never motionless, despite measures of emplacement promoted by national and local governments and the international community. The drilling of boreholes, the construction of health centres and schools, the distribution of aid does not stop the mobility of places nor of their inhabitants. Until places remain mobile, they are alive; otherwise they clot. This argument makes it possible to move beyond a dichotomic definition of sedentism and nomadism to value changes, flexibility, and plasticity as important features of places created and recreated by mobile pastoralists.
First published online: 1 March 2020; Best Essay Award by Commission for Nomadic Peoples.
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/69813
Full-text via DOI: 10.3197/np.2020.240104
ISSN: 0822-7942; 1752-2366
Publisher: White Horse Press
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