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Special Collection

Pastoralism and the new commons: Co-management, conflict and cooperation

Collection launched: 27 Nov 2020
Social scientists, politicians and practitioners concerned with pastoralism in sub-Saharan Africa have focused on the demise of the pastoral commons since the 1980s. The fragmentation of rangelands and the increasing establishment of enclosures have captured the attention of social scientists for a number of decades (for a summary see e.g. Galvin 2009). Lately, however, there has been a distinct trend towards a re-assertion and re-organization of the commons in rural Southern and Eastern Africa. This move towards common pool resource management has been of great significance for most pastoralist communities in the region and has changed livelihoods and social organization alike. On the one hand, pastoralists have invaded freehold farms, occupied stretches of land for which titling was unclear or conflictual and/or sought selective access to neighbouring, privately owned farms. On the other hand, governments in Eastern and Southern Africa established new commons around forests, water sources, pastures and game in the 1990s and early 2000s, often organizing them according to guidelines set out by Elinor Ostrom’s design principles. This special collection explores these new commons.