PASTRES update: Fieldwork begins!

Our recent newsletter offered an update of activities in the second half of 2019. It was another busy period for PASTRES.

All six PhD students successfully completed their ‘research outlines’ and presented them to a well-attended colloquium at IDS, Sussex. All have now headed off to their field sites. The projects cover land governance in Amdo Tibet, livelihood change in northern Kenya, market networks in Sardinia, absentee ownership and social differentiation in southern Tunisia, mobility practices in Gujarat, India and responses to a livestock insurance scheme in southern Ethiopia. All are exploring diverse and fascinating dimensions of uncertainty and pastoralism. Look out for video profiles of their projects in the new year on this blog!


Visual methods

Before they left we had a great visual methods workshop, facilitated by Shibaji Bose, Roopa Gogineni and Becky Ayre, who all shared their experience in photovoice, documentary photography and video. We are looking forward to exciting visual material emerging from the research sites in due course. A new Instagram feed, @pastoralismanduncertainty, shares some pictures and stories from the field.

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Uncertainty symposium

PASTRES was a co-host of the STEPS Centre’s symposium on ‘The Politics of Uncertainty’, held in July at Sussex. Over several intensive days, we explored how uncertainty is understood and responded to in domains as wide-ranging as banking and finance, critical infrastructure, insurance, technology regulation, natural disasters, infectious disease control, crime and terrorism, migration and religion.

A book is in the works, but you can get a flavour of the discussions through the following resources:

> Blog series: Eight blog posts reflecting on different dimensions of uncertainty from multiple angles

> Podcast: Four audio conversations across themes reflecting on implications of uncertainty

> Video: Clips from the plenary presentations discussing the politics of uncertainty

While pastoralism was not a direct focus, it was the resonance with wider domains that was important for PASTRES. The PASTRES team who attended picked up useful perspectives from the diverse participants.

View the symposium details

Paper: What is uncertainty and why does it matter?

Before the symposium, a paper reviewing different perspectives on uncertainty was released.


This is a key position paper for PASTRES as we explore how ‘lessons from the margins’ can inform wider understandings of and responses to uncertainty.

Download the paper

Papers: Herding through uncertainties: principles, practices and regional perspectives

As highlighted in earlier blogs, two papers have been published that explore, through a major review of the literature on pastoralism globally, what are the underlying principles and practices that guide pastoralists’ responses to uncertainty, and how these differ (or indeed are similar) across different world regions. These papers provide the foundation for the comparative empirical work now being undertaken.


We also contributed a short report on the PASTRES project to the open access journal, Pastoralism featured in the last blog. The report gives a brief overview of the project and its aims.

Lecture: Why embracing uncertainty means rethinking development

Building on his Ester Boserup prize lectured delivered in Copenhagen in June, in November, PASTRES PI, Ian Scoones gave a lecture at the Collaborative Centre – Future Rural Africa: Future-making and social-ecological transformation – based in Bonn and Cologne, sharing perspectives from PASTRES with a major new German research group working in Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania.

Watch the video


Seminars and workshops

We were lucky enough to have excellent seminars from PASTRES affiliates, Matteo Caravani and Mathilde Gingembre at Sussex. Affiliate researchers are also regular contributors to this blog, contributing two of the top three blogs this year (see below).

PASTRES affiliate researcher Greta Simplici, along with PhD students Linda Pappagallo and Natasha Maru, were involved with others in putting on an important workshop on mobile methodologies for early career researchers in Germany.

And several PASTRES researchers contributed to the stream on pastoralism at the IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnographic Studies) Congress in Poznan, Poland.

Policy engagements in Europe

PASTRES members, Michele Nori and Antonello Franca, continue their work on pastoralism in Italy, with the APPIA network. The network brings together associations of producers, individual farmers, researchers, institutional actors and non-governmental organisations active on extensive livestock breeding in Italy. Four thematic working groups focus on 1) problems of predation, 2) access to land and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), 3) value chains and marketing of pastoral products, 4) training and innovation in the sector. Ongoing activities include regional discussions on the policy and legislative framework for pastoralism, including CAP reform, access to pastoral lands, cohabitation with wild fauna and the marketing pastoral meat. A new initiative focuses on the establishment of pastoral schools in different regions of Italy.

PASTRES blog: news and comment


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Read the top 3 posts of 2019:

Keep in touch!

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