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The Future of the World is Mobile: What can we learn from pastoralists?

April 10 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

European University Institute
Florence, Italy

Can the experience of pastoralists, who have long relied on mobility, help us address the challenges of global migration, cross-border trade and managing flows of information and commodities?

Mobility is increasingly central to our societies. Nomadic practices and networks that enhance mobility are synonymous with a fluid, flexible, mobile modernity, which is governed through a continuous and growing flow of people, resources, information and capital. Yet our policy narratives and institutional settings are poorly equipped to tackle accelerating patterns of mobility, which in turn respond to and generate shifting patterns of uncertainties. A perspective on mobility from pastoralists’ perspectives challenges many ideas derived from a settled state perspective, dominated as they are by fixity, settlement, controlled migration, regulated movement, fences and borders. A mobility perspective therefore suggests new ways of thinking about policy and practice in a range of areas.

PASTRES, an ERC-funded project looking at pastoralism and uncertainty, believes that looking at the world through the eyes of pastoralists gives mobility the centrality it deserves. Pastoralism is a livelihood strategy based on the movements of animals and people, in search of greener pastures, expanding social networks and taking advantage of market opportunities. Pastoralists’ responses to environmental, market and governance uncertainties hinge on specific patterns of mobility. For many pastoralists, mobility across borders is vital, complex networks linking kin and others are at the core of market functioning, flexible movement in response to changing resource availability is essential for escaping drought, avoiding fixed places for settlement or markets is central to facilitating flexibility, and adaptive forms of governance are vital in pastoral societies.

Can we learn from pastoralists how mobility could help in responding to uncertainty for wider challenges? Perspectives from ‘marginal, peripheral’ contexts could provide important indications and inform debates around wider societal concerns. The seminar will provide the opportunity to link debates focused on pastoralism to wider discussions around movement and mobility in migration, trade and development, as part of a wider conversation about rethinking perspectives on uncertainty for contemporary global challenges.

Presentations:

  • PASTRES and the lens of pastoralists, Ian Scoones, IDS, University of Sussex & Visiting Fellow, Schuman Centre (view slides)
  • Interfacing pastoral movements and modern mobilities, Michele Nori (view slides)
  • Rabari on the road: Exploring the politics of pastoral mobility, Natasha Maru, IDS, University of Sussex (view slides)

Q&A and discussion

  • Moderator: Bernard Hoekman
  • Discussant: Giorgia Giovannetti (view slides)

Details

Date:
April 10
Time:
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
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