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‘Tribes are, in a sense, ethnographic fictions’: Identity transformation and land tenure among hunter-gatherers of Kenya

Abstract

The enduring presence of hunter-gatherers –or “Dorobo” as they are typically referred to in the literature– in what is now Kenya has long been established. Many of the groups that made up that population are said to have “disappeared”, “gone underground”, or been “driven away”. Certainly, groups with a known past of hunting and gathering are few and far between in Kenya today. Despite their geographical proximity, these groups seem to have fared with their changing environment differently. While few groups, such as the Okiek, are still recognisable entities today –though they are no longer relying on hunting and gathering for their subsistence-, others seem to have all but disappeared. This suggests that we are faced with many possible scenarios of ‘disappearance’ and ‘adaptation’ to a changing human, political and natural landscape. The primary aim of the present paper is to bring this variability to the fore by investigating, in three cases, the strategies of adaptation that they devised to cope with new circumstances: Mukogodo (Laikipia), Matthews Range Dorobo (Samburu), Cherangany (Trans Nzoia, Elgeyo-Marakwet, West-Pokot). Further the article argues that ‘Dorobo adaptation’ and identity transformation should at least be seen as part of a fight to maintain access to land.

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Bibliography

Guene, E. (2017): ‘Tribes are, in a sense, ethnographic fictions’: Identity transformation and land tenure among hunter-gatherers of Kenya.

Authors Guene, Enid
Type unpublished
Title ‘Tribes are, in a sense, ethnographic fictions’: Identity transformation and land tenure among hunter-gatherers of Kenya
Year 2017
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