Resilience and the mobility of identity : belonging and change among Turkana herders in northern Kenya
Nomadic peoples, 2021, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 226-252
SEMPLICI, Greta, Resilience and the mobility of identity : belonging and change among Turkana herders in northern Kenya, Nomadic peoples, 2021, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 226-252 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/73869
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
Ideas of resilience are not new; they have travelled across several disciplines, stretching their original meanings to a considerable degree, turning into a 'key political category of our time' (Neocleous 2013). For the case of pastoralist groups, discussions about resilience predominantly concern the state of pastoralism as a unitary and fixed entity and its prospects for survival in a world in turmoil (climate change, diseases and epidemics, conflicts, socio-economic transformations). In this context, references to resilience generally allude to local vulnerability, purporting the need for external support. These accounts tend to ignore local voices and perceptions and neglect the role of identity, culture and change in self-presentation and everyday life. Based on fourteen months of fieldwork in the northern Kenyan drylands, this article flips dominant perspectives on pastoralism and resilience, following the herders' self-definition, their construction of a shared identity and their, at times contradictory, positioning as part of a broader society. It argues that part of their resilience rests in the feeling of belonging and solidarity around a collective identity, built in opposition to urbanities along symbolic boundaries. The article however shows how such identity remains nonetheless flexible and responsive to change, disrupting dichotomies and weaving different social worlds, such as rural and urban, together. Such flexibility is also an important element of resilience for the capacity to change, stay attentive, and mobile.
Publication online: 1 October 2021
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/73869
Full-text via DOI: 10.3197/np.2021.250204
ISSN: 0822-7942; 1752-2366
Publisher: White Horse Press
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