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Resilience and Collapse in African Savannahs: Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change in East Africa

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By: Michael Bollig(Editor), David M Anderson(Editor)


Hardback | Jan 2017 | #239779 | ISBN-13: 9781138288775
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NHBS Price: £105.00 $137/€119 approx
Paperback | 2019 | #244328 | ISBN-13: 9780367109431
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About this book

Resilience and Collapse in African Savannahs assesses the causes and consequences of environmental change in East Africa, asking whether local African communities are sufficiently resilient to cope with the ecological and social challenges that confront them. It focuses on the savannahs of the Baringo-Bogoria basin, and the surrounding highlands of Kenya's northern Rift Valley that form the social-ecological system of the specialised cattle pastoralists and niche agricultural farmers who occupy these semi-arid lands.

Historical studies of resilience spanning the past two centuries are linked with analysis of current environmental challenges, and the ecological, social, economic and political responses mounted by local communities. The authors question whether the most recent challenges confronting the peoples of eastern Africa's savannahs – intensified conflicts, mounting poverty driven by demographic pressures, and dramatic ecological changes brought by invasive species – might soon led to a collapse in essential elements of the specialised cattle pastoralism that dominates the region, requiring a re-orientation of the social-ecological system.

Resilience and Collapse in African Savannahs was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Eastern African Studies.


1. Introduction: Resilience and collapse: Histories, ecologies, conflicts and identities in the Baringo-Bogoria basin, Kenya / David M. Anderson & Michael Bollig
2. Adaptive cycles in the savannah: pastoral specialization and diversification in northern Kenya / Michael Bollig
3. The beginning of time? Evidence for catastrophic drought in Baringo in the early nineteenth century / David M. Anderson
4. Landscape, time and cultural resilience: a brief history of agriculture in Pokot and Marakwet, Kenya / Matthew I.J. Davies & Henrietta L. Moore
5. Changes in landscape vegetation, forage plant composition and herding structure in the pastoralist livelihoods of East Pokot, Kenya / Hauke-Peter Vehrs
6. Land use changes and the invasion dynamics of shrubs in Baringo / Mathias Becker, Miguel Alvarez, Gereon Heller, Paul Leparmarai, Damaris Maina, Itambo Malombe , Michael Bollig & Hauke-Peter Vehrs
7. Agricultural change at the margins: adaptation and intensification in a Kenyan dryland / Clemens Greiner & Innocent Mwaka
8. Comparative nutritional indicators as markers of resilience: the impacts of low-intensity violence among three pastoral communities of northern Kenya / Ivy L. Pike, Bilinda, Charles Hilton & Matthias Osterle
9. 'Dust people': Samburu perspectives on disaster, identity, and landscape / Bilinda Straight, Paul Lane, Musa Letua (deceased) & Charles Hilton
10. A victory in theory, a loss in practice: struggles for political representation in the Lake Baringo-Bogoria Basin, Kenya / Peter D. Little
11. What's in a name? The politics of identity in the Cherangany Hills, Kenya / Gabrielle Lynch

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Michael Bollig is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Cologne, Germany. His recent books include African Pastoralism: Past, Present and Future (2013), Interdisciplinary Perspectives on African Landscapes (2009) and Risk Management in a Hazardous Environment (2006). He is currently researching the political ecology of conversation in Southern Africa and land use changes in dryland East Africa.

David M. Anderson is Professor of African History in the Global History and Culture Centre, at the University of Warwick, UK. He has published widely on history and politics in Eastern Africa, including Eroding the Commons (2002), The Khat Controversy (2007), Histories of the Hanged (2005) and The Routledge Handbook of African Politics (ed. 2013).

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