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Lands of the Future: Anthropological Perspectives on Pastoralism, Land Deals and Tropes of Modernity in Eastern Africa

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Volume 23

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Lands of the Future

Anthropological Perspectives on Pastoralism, Land Deals and Tropes of Modernity in Eastern Africa

Edited by Echi Christina Gabbert, Fana Gebresenbet, John G. Galaty and Günther Schlee

396 pages, 8 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-990-7 $145.00/£107.00 Hb Published (January 2021)

eISBN 978-1-78920-991-4 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $39.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Explains clearly how changes in pastoral and agro-pastoral land use/lease in East Africa lead to environmental degradation and depletion of resources… a very important book.” • Taddesse Berisso, Addis Ababa University

“The overall volume is highly coherent, well integrated, ethnographically convincing as well as written with technical clarity and sober positioning …no comparable material exists in scope and focus.” • Felix Girke, University of Konstanz


Rangeland, forests and riverine landscapes of pastoral communities in Eastern Africa are increasingly under threat. Abetted by states who think that outsiders can better use the lands than the people who have lived there for centuries, outside commercial interests have displaced indigenous dwellers from pastoral territories. This volume presents case studies from Eastern Africa, based on long-term field research, that vividly illustrate the struggles and strategies of those who face dispossession and also discredit ideological false modernist tropes like ‘backwardness’ and ‘primitiveness’.

Echi Christina Gabbert is an anthropologist at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Göttingen University, Germany. She coordinates the Lands of the Future Initiative, that focuses on pastoralism, global investment and local responses in East Africa in the 21rst century.

Fana Gebresenbet is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He has done extensive fieldwork on land investment in pastoral regions of Ethiopia.

John G. Galaty is  Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Canada. Focused on eastern Africa, his areas of specialisms are  pastoralism and social change and rangeland development.

Günther Schlee is Professor of Social Anthropology at Arba Minch University, Ethiopia, and Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. His main publications include Identities on the Move: Clanship and Pastoralism in Northern Kenya (Manchester University Press, 1989) and How Enemies Are Made: Towards a Theory of Ethnic and Religious Conflict (Berghahn Books, 2008).

Subject: Anthropology (General) Mobility Studies Environmental Studies (General)
Area: Africa


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Futuremaking with Pastoralists
Echi Christina Gabbert

Part I: Setting the Context: Modernity and Citizenship in Pastoral Areas

Chapter 1. Modern Mobility in East Africa: Pastoral Responses to Rangeland Fragmentation, Enclosure and Settlement
John G. Galaty

Chapter 2. Unequal Citizenship and One-Sided Communication: Anthropological Perspectives on Collective Identification in the Context of Large-Scale Land Transfers in Ethiopia
Günther Schlee

Chapter 3. Global Trade, Local Realities: Why African States Undervalue Pastoralism
Peter D. Little

Part II: Contested Identities and Territories: A History of Expropriation

Chapter 4. Modes of Dispossession of Indigenous Lands and Territories in Africa
Elifuraha I. Laltaika and Kelly M. Askew

Chapter 5. Land and the State in Ethiopia
John Markakis

Chapter 6. Persistent Expropriation of Pastoral Lands: The Afar Case
Maknun Ashami and Jean Lydall

Part III: Power, Politics and Reactions to State-Building

Chapter 7. Anatomy of a White Elephant: Investment Failure and Land Conflicts on Ethiopia’s Oromia–Somali Frontier
Jonah Wedekind

Chapter 8. From Cattle Herding to Charcoal Burning: Land Expropriation, State Consolidation and Livelihood Changes in Abaya Valley, Southern Ethiopia
Asebe Regassa

Chapter 9. Villagization in Ethiopia’s Lowlands: Development vs. Facilitating Control and Dispossession
Fana Gebresenbet

Part IV: Underdeveloping South Omo

Chapter 10. ‘Breaking Every Rule in the Book’: The Story of River Basin Development in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley
David Turton

Chapter 11. State-Building in the Ethiopian South-Western Lowlands: Experiencing the Brunt of State Power in Mela
Lucie Buffavand

Chapter 12. Customary Land Use and Local Consent Practices in Mun (Mursi): A New Call for Meaningful FPIC Standards in Southern Ethiopia
Shauna LaTosky

Chapter 13. Ethiopia’s ‘Blue Oil’? Hydropower, Irrigation and Development in the Omo-Turkana Basin
Edward G.J. Stevenson and Benedikt Kamski

Conclusion: Pastoralists for Future
Echi Christina Gabbert, Fana Gebresenbet and Jonah Wedekind


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