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No Place Like Home: History, Politics and Mobility among a Pastoral Nomadic Community in Western India

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This article asks, Why do these nomadic populations continue to adhere to a lifestyle that has clearly become economically and ecologically difficult to sustain? Why has their seasonal transformation from nomads into dairymen not led to the kind of permanent transformation described by Salzman in his study based in south Gujarat? Other regional pastoral communities like the Rabaris continue to herd animals but often only as a supplement to other sources of income. Why do the Jatts of Banni continue to hold so tenaciously to the possibility of return to a land that is barren and dry most of the year and flooded over on the rare occasions it rains? It will be argued that nomadic populations should be situated not merely in regard to the ecological constraints that dictate lifestyle choices, even though those constraints are real ones. Instead, I hope to show that the continued back and forth movement of the Jatt pastoralists ought to be seen as an outcome of a network of choices that are political and ideological rather than purely ecological in nature.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2004

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  • Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples, scholars, researchers, planners and project administrators.
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