Collaborative foundations of herding: The formation of cooperative groups among Tibetan pastoralists

Just got a paper published in Journal of Arid Environments on cooperation among Tibetan pastoralists.

You can read the paper here, it’s open access.

Luckily, the paper got published on the same day as I got grant applications rejected from the Research Council of Norway.

Why bring that up? Because the paper and one of the grant applications have some obvious parallels.

The paper documents why cooperation is vital for Tibetan pastoralists: it increases control of herds, reduces individual household’s labour demand and increases the potential for economic diversification.

Tibetan herder bring a subset of the herd back to camp for the night. Photo (C) Marius Warg Næss

The grant application extends this aspect: it wants to comparatively investigate pastoral cooperation by taking as its starting point that cooperative herding groups are a necessary component of pastoral life.

The paradox is that while it is almost impossible for pastoral households to maintain production without cooperative labour investment and mutual help from other households, a comparative perspective of cooperative herding group formation is currently lacking.

Moreover, while cooperation is widely documented, it is treated in a somewhat ad hoc fashion. For example, it has been used as an explanation for why there is no relationship between household labour investment and pastoral production (see this paper).

Furthermore, herding groups have been described as fluid: changing composition from year to year and between seasons. Thus, they have been viewed as less important than more extensive and more political, groupings.

My personal point of view that despite the instability of herding units, they represent an essential building block of nomadic societies because they are concerned with daily cooperation.

More to the point, we know relatively little about them: what evidence we have represent a snapshot in time. We lack longitudinal data as well as data concerning how cooperation is changing as a consequence of changes in land tenure.

While getting grant rejections sucks, I still think this is a worthwhile project that I’ll pursue.

Anyone interested in collaborating on such a project is welcome to contact me.

Tibetan lives: Hunting

I’ve just got a paper accepted in Land Use Policy about nomadic pastoralists in Tibet and hunting. As we all know, space is limited in scientific journals, so here is additional text as well as pictures. Continue reading “Tibetan lives: Hunting”

Workshop in Tromsø February 18

In connection with the project “The Erosion of Cooperative Networks and the Evolution of Social Hierarchies: A Comparative Approach” and NIKU‘s 20th anniversary,  a workshop will be arranged on Wednesday 18th of February in Tromsø, Norway.

Time: Wednesday February 18 12:30-16:00 Continue reading “Workshop in Tromsø February 18”

HIERARCHIES: New research project from the Research Council of Norway

Last week I got the news that I got a 4 year research grant funded by the Research Council of Norway.

Continue reading “HIERARCHIES: New research project from the Research Council of Norway”

Tibetan lives: Nomads in the Aru Basin

So I just bought a scanner to scan the many pictures I have from my stay in Tibet in 2000 and 2001. While I spent most of my time in the capital, Lhasa, I have yet to get to those pictures. Consequently, I have selected a few pictures showing  some aspects of the daily life of the nomads in the Aru Basin. Continue reading “Tibetan lives: Nomads in the Aru Basin”

Climate Change, Risk Management and the End of Nomadic Pastoralism

Tibet

While not a particularly good quality map, it at least show the area my latest publication pertains to (Aru Basin). It is published in the journal International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology.

The topic of the paper is mobility, a classic pastoral stagey for dealing with environmental variation. Mobility is used to manage resource variability, for example, during droughts where pastoralist have moved from affected areas to unaffected (or less affected) areas. Continue reading “Climate Change, Risk Management and the End of Nomadic Pastoralism”