The new politics of pastoralism: Identity, justice and global activism
journal contributionposted on 20.07.2015, 15:55 by Caroline Upton
Concerns with the politics and practices of resource rights and access are integral to contemporary debates over environmental justice. Struggles over identity politics, especially the strategic articulation and deployment of particular identities at diverse geographical scales, have recently emerged as important mediators of justice claims in respect of resources rights, but also of recognition and procedural justice. To date, critical, multi-scalar analyses of identity-based claims for environmental justice have focused largely on the indigenous peoples' movement. In doing so, they have failed to embrace an emergent dimension of identity-based, trans-scalar justice, namely the fledgling global pastoralists' movement, the empirical focus for this paper. In the early years of the 21st century mobile pastoralists have begun to carve out new global spaces, through which diverse groups have attempted to negotiate common ground and forge common identities in their struggles for justice. In particular, mobile pastoralists have become increasingly visible in conservation politics and contests over land rights as they lay claim to both discursive and material ground as 'custodians of the commons' in an era of global climatic change. This paper draws on empirical work amongst pastoralists, NGOs and activists from Kenya, Mongolia and Spain to explore these identities, their implications for resource rights and access and the multi-scalar chains of accountability and legitimacy between global activists and their local constituents.