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UK Research and Innovations (2018)

The Role of Migration and Absentee Ownership in Pastoral Territorialisation in Tunisia

Migration Ownership Pastoral Tunisia

Titre : The Role of Migration and Absentee Ownership in Pastoral Territorialisation in Tunisia

Pays/Région : Tunisia

Durée : sept. 18 - juin 22

Référence projet : 2259234
Catégorie : Studentship

This research aims to understand the ways in which livestock is a means to accumulate capital in neoliberal contexts where social mobility is already constrained, but where various forms of absentee livestock ownership operate ; beyond bounded conceptions of "communities" and "capital". Tunisia’s revolution in 2011, began with protests in the rural, marginal, phosphate mining areas of the south. These regions coincide with important pastoral zones, where 87% of Tunisia’s rangelands are located, and where 70% of households hold small ruminant flocks for their subsistence. Following the revolution, Tunisia’s southern dryland pastoral areas are experiencing high levels of out-migration from rural areas, with remittances used to overcome local constraints to social mobility and the depreciating Tunisian dinar. Furthermore, since 2011, livestock and land investors, particularly from coastal regions, are seizing opportunities as decentralization and the new government are reconfiguring power relations in rural areas, again affecting trajectories of accumulation. Although migration and speculative investments, as features of an agrarian transition, are not a new phenomenon in Tunisia, to date, these transformations within a post-revolution agrarian transition have only been partly explored in agricultural settings while little research has sought to understand these transformations in pastoral settings.

This research asks : How do different forms of absentee livestock and land ownership, following the 2011 revolution in Tunisia, influence patterns of social differentiation within pastoral communities ? Both migrants and outside investors, may be considered as ’absentees’ in academic or policy-oriented discourses where, typically - but not always - a defining feature is of managing livestock or land through an intermediary or through other forms of contractual relationships. Broadly, this research seeks to unpack the notion of ’absenteeism’ by focusing on migrants and outside investors, and their relations with areas of pastoral production in southern Tunisia. Although absentees may not be physically present, or not-resident, in the area where the livestock or land investment is being made, they are still very much involved in shaping resource distribution and rural livelihoods. Far from being ’absent’, absentees may be vital players in fast-changing pastoral economies, resulting in new land and labour relations, livestock and rangeland management, and new sources of capital and investment ; particularly given the deepening complexity of patterns of social differentiation in multilocal spaces.

Lead Research Organisation : University of Sussex

Financement : Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

UK Research and Innovations

Page publiée le 2 septembre 2022