Pastoralism and Change in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Gillian G. Tan
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 10)


This introduction brings together literature on pastoralism and socio-environmental change and examines these in the context of eastern Tibet. The literature on pastoralism presents it mainly as a mode of production and a way of life. Eschewing any presentation of pastoralism as an ideal-type that exists in “pure” form, or that is defined in opposition to agriculture, the portrayal in this book emphasizes how pastoralists have to interact with others, including agriculturalists and traders in order to maintain their ecological niche; how mobility is environmentally determined as well as a choice; and how nomadic pastoralism is not a static system but rather a dynamic strategy appropriate to the environmental and political contexts in which it is practiced. The selected literature on socio-environmental change highlights a theory of change that presents the concept, first, as unhinged from a foundation of substance and fixity, and second, as sufficiently complex to be articulated as orders and kinds of change. This literature draws mainly from Bateson’s (A sacred unity: further steps to an ecology of mind, New York, pp. 283–289, 1991) thinking on orders of change, but also from Dwyer and Minnegal (The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16(3), 626–645, 2010; Minnegal and Dwyer, Ethnology, 38(1), 59–80, 1999) in their theorization of social change as analytically divided between kinds of change: namely, products and processes. Together, a framework of change is offered that is appropriate to the complexity and dynamism of pastoral systems in eastern Tibet.


Nomadic pastoralism Complexity Dynamism Orders of change Kinds of change Adaptation Transformation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gillian G. Tan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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