Working Paper 156

Hybrid Pastoralists – Development interventions and new Turkana identities

Harald Müller-Dempf

Department ‘Integration and Conflict’

Year of publication

Number of pages

Working Paper 156

Publications on the Turkana in Kenya indicate that development interventions have divided them into pastoralists and non-pastoralist paupers, who are forever disconnected from one another, and that, at large, the Turkana are worse off than they were before these interventions. It is suggested that this view has to be modified, as Turkana society has adapted to the new situation, new hybrid forms of existence have developed, and pastoral and non-pastoral Turkana are co-operating more than is visible at first glance. The paper does not concentrate on the future of pastoralism as other papers do, but it shows how the Turkana – pastoralists, non-pastoralists, and hybrid forms of both – are dealing with the pre¬vail¬ing situation. The economic lay-out of the Turkana society has changed and is changing, but not towards an ever-increasing alleged pauperisation. Livelihood diversification is, as it has always been, the lifeline of the entire Turkana society, but it has gained a new quality and cannot be seen any more as a mere supplement to pastoral life. The article highlights the economic connections between the pastoralist and non-pastoralist sectors from both ends and calls for a more in-depth research of cultural Turkana hybridity, including its impact on the social system.

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