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University of Arizona (1984)

Livestock production and social organization among the Turkana

Wienpahl, Jan

Titre : Livestock production and social organization among the Turkana

Auteur : Wienpahl, Jan

Université de soutenance : University of Arizona, USA

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1984

Certain aspects of livestock production and social organization in a group of East African nomadic pastoralists, the Ngisonyoka Turkana in Northwest Kenya, are studied. The main topics are the position of small stock (goats and sheep) in the population and production characteristics of the multi-species (goats, sheep, camels, cattle, and donkeys) herds, livestock ownership and management with a focus on women and small stock, and the activities and morphology of the Turkana household as an integrated livestock enterprise. Four nomadic Ngisonyoka households were followed throughout fifteen months in 1980-81, and formed the basis for intensive quantitative and qualitative data collection. Field research took place during a period of drought followed by heavy rains, and enemy-raiding activity, which allowed documentation of the effects of very stressful conditions on household herds and food production. Data on herd dynamics demonstrate an adaptive value to herdowners of maintaining large, multi-species herds in variable and hazard-filled pastoral environments. Many animals of all species died, but the species were affected diferently : e.g., small stock succumbed most readily to, but recovered most quickly from, the drought. Similarly, analysis of the production of food from the herds (milk, blood, meat, and, indirectly, purchased maizemeal) shows that no species can be singled out as most critical ; rather, they all contribute in essential ways. For example, small-stock milk is not as quantitatively important overall as camel milk ; nevertheless small stock are important milk producers, especially at certain times of the year. The Turkana awi is identified as a household on the basis of its activities, and the morphology and activities of the four study awis are discussed in detail. Emphasis is on the interrelationships between morphology and activities and the nomadic pastoral adaptation. Analysis of women’s roles in the livestock production system focuses on relationships between human sex roles in management and labor and livestock species differences. Contrary to the apparent situation in some pastoral groups, Turkana women are not more involved with small stock than with large stock husbandry. Small stock and large stock are equally the concern of pastoral Turkana of all sexes and ages.

Mots clés : Ethnology / Turkana (African people) / Pastoralists / Livestock

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