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Discussion: The Future of the World is Mobile - Giorgia Giovannetti

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By Giorgia Giovannetti, University of Firenze and Robert Schuman Centre, EUI. Given at EUI on 10 April 2019.
https://steps-centre.org/event/the-future-of-the-world-is-mobile-what-can-we-learn-from-pastoralists/

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Discussion: The Future of the World is Mobile - Giorgia Giovannetti

  1. 1. Schuman Centre’s Seminar Series: The Future of the World is Mobile: What can we learn from pastoralists Elements for Discussion By Giorgia Giovannetti University of Firenze and Robert Schuman Centre, EUI April 10° 2019
  2. 2. Outline: the research questions and the keywords: mobility, resilience and uncertainty • Q1: Can the experience of pastoralists, who have long relied upon mobility, help us address the challenges of global migration, cross-border trade and managing flows of information and commodities? • Q2: Can we learn from pastoralists how mobility could help in responding to uncertainty for wider challenges? • The idea is that pastoralism is much beyond search for water and pasture... Nomads are pastoralists equipped with a mobile capital (livestock) and a flexible territory. The main limiting factor for a pastoralist is grass. • Pastoralism helps understanding also economic and social mobility (and resilience) • Pastoralism can be taken as a benchmark for other situations of «movements» (e.g. migrations)
  3. 3. The (main) challenging issues (I perceived) 1. The role of movement (mobility) of people across different borders: geographic borders, different ecological niches; identity borders, different livelihood modes (i.e. economic and social movements); relational borders, networks (i.e. cultural and political movements) 2. Concept of resilience, in particular looking at food security, livelihood protection, and cultural identity in situations of complex emergencies (situations hit by multiple shocks at the same time, shocks which are repeated and prolonged over long periods of time) 3. The fact that resilience (of a community) is inextricably linked to the condition of the environment and the treatment of its resources. Little role is played by the environment itself if not in the case of exceptional ecological crises when resilience is substituting disaster risk management approaches 4. Uncertainty makes signals confused (difficult to read)
  4. 4. What do we mean by Mobility? • Mobility is more than mere “motion”. Is an adaptation strategy • Mobility is not uniquely related with nomadic migratory movements but it is a "state of mind”, an habitus that involves social relations, cultural features, historical and traditional reconstructions and present narratives and discourses. • It is an "umbrella term" which encompass all types of movement: physical, social, economic, political, etc. • Mobility does not necessarily entail actual movement from A to B but a close reading into people's own perception and understanding of spaces, opportunities, and constraints (this concept is new for me and I believe very important) • Movement covers many types of geographical mobilities (e.g. the migratory phenomenon), • Not only territorial but also economic, socio-relational and cultural mobilities.
  5. 5. Different typologies of mobility: economic, cultural, social and environmental • This research broadens the concept of mobility to embrace economic, social and environmental perspectives Economic mobility • Markets, towns and roads. Economic reasons to move: • Livestock can be sold when pastors need cash (price takers?); • Herders may buy livestock; can also resell them at a higher price or merge them with their existing stock; • Traders can cross borders between towns and rural areas in search of customers selling all sorts of things; • Young people can move in search of job opportunities;
  6. 6. Economic mobility, 2 • Drivers (cars, motorbikes, pickups) carry people and goods for local shops (infrastructure development); • Women, people move to collect money from cash grant programs. Economic mobility is a profitable movement. But could be dangerous. It exposes people to dangerous places. Possibility to run into enemies, wild animals and “evil spirits” [many examples of economic mobility beside pastoralism] Cultural mobility (I know very little) • Culturally mobility is sometimes linked to health and illness. • Not to be able to move may imply death. Not to be able to move is the most dangerous symptom which can affect both humans and livestock. • Movement guarantees survival. • [Recent analysis of house prices looking at correlation with «cultural life»]
  7. 7. Environmental mobility • Environmental movement is to follow grass, rains, and water. Different groups of pastoralist travel according to the needs of different animals (feeding selection) • Animals are able to transform grass into proteins for humans, the pastoralist triad: milk, blood, meat. • Tuareg people from Sahara say “we are sons of the clouds”. In this, they introduce another element: rain. • The relationship between rain and vegetation is one of the determinants of the movement of people and animals. • Mobile people measure and map their inhabited space through the time they take to cross it; • Individuals’ existence is thus deeply affected by resources’ availability and place accessibility • [Recent studies on environmental driven migrations]
  8. 8. Social mobility • Social movement is made of people, paths, gifts and generosity. Importance of nested relations of households, neighbours, clans. • People (pastoralists) walk to meet the maximum number of people possible along the way. • [Difficulties in town with underdeveloped infrastructures] • Mobiles phones are changing the frequency and rapidity of contacts among people, in a way which is still unpredictable. • The affect also economic mobility (no need to move to collect cash transfers if you can get on Mpesa)
  9. 9. Mobility & migration • Migration is one (very relevant) “mobility way” • It contributes to strengthen people resilience, yet not without risks. • To understand how migration can reduce vulnerability we need to know what migration means for the people on the move (and the reasons underpinning migration: economic? Social? Cultural? Environmental?) Mobility of goods/services/global value chains • Mobility is not only people but also goods (final and intermediates): importance of Global value chains for development (a country cannot do the whole car but can certainly specialize in one task) • Mobility is not only people but also capital • Is resilience linked to different types of mobility (people, goods, capital, ideas)?
  10. 10. Policies: what can we do? • Importance of the impact of national policies on local movements • The concept of resilience is at the centre of current debates in development and it is increasingly adopted by policy makers, even though it is not clear what resilience really means in practice. • Many implementing agencies and donors are unaware of what needs to be done and there is little agreement on what resilience programming looks like, despite the conspicuous and growing number of interventions aiming at “building resilience” of target populations. • The danger is that resilience provides a new attractive term but no new action

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