Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Peter D. Little

Abstract

(Agro)pastoralism in Sahelian Niger, as elsewhere, operates through household enterprises. Katsinen-ko’en (Fulбe) households, interconnected within kin and community networks, utilize a range of flexible strategies to manage a variety of ecological and economic risks. This dissertation argues that (agro)pastoralist households and communities maintain or improve viability in risky environments first by employing various mobility patterns, among other strategies, and relying on the tightly knit interdependence between household and herd. Secondly, households that most successfully sustain a cooperative integrity (i.e. partnerships between husband and wife, or wives, and parents and children) to negotiate decisions and strategies best withstand adversities such as droughts. The continuance of vital links between household and herd helps the household enterprise more easily weather difficult times and profit during advantageous times. Thirdly, the transfer of endowments from parents to children of ecological, economic and political knowledges and socio-economic networks ensures the continuity of family livelihoods.

This dissertation analyzes a range of household/herd mobility patterns on a livelihood continuum from sedentary agropastoralism to exclusive pastoralism, and the household decisions that lead to those mobilities. In this way, it adds to a growing body of literature that examines household strategies employed in very uncertain natural environments, contributing to pastoral studies and environmental anthropology. By folding household economics and political ecology into household ecology, it analyses resource and asset transfers within and between households, all under the influence of the natural and political-economic environments. Contributing to development anthropology, I argue that the most important buffer against the risks of unpredictable environments is a stable, undivided household, migrating with and managing its own herd.

I conclude by showing how development research and projects should support household/herd integrity to enhance livelihood security. When government or development agencies institute policies and projects that remove children from the household, or separate households and herds, they endanger the integrity of the household and the reproduction of livelihoods that make essential contributions to national economies. Rather than urging pastoralists to modify their livelihoods to fit images held by ABSTRACT OF DISSERTATION administrators, these organizations and agencies should help pastoralists to build on adaptations that already facilitate their management of risky environments.

Share

COinS