Lecture 6. Pastoral Worlds

created by:

Mark Jarzombek

from the module:

First Societies

At the core of the lecture is a map that differentiates the forest- and shore-based societies of the north and the emerging monsoon-based societies around the equator. It is to the latter that the word ‘civilization’ is often linked. What tends to be forgotten in that narrative is the emergence of the pastoral tradition and its new relationship to animals. Pastoralism developed in Africa and West Asia and had a huge impact on the social structure in the area of Africa-Eurasia. The lecture introduces the difference between Pastoralism and Agro-pastoralism. The examples of pastoral societies that still exist are the Dinka in Sudan and the Maasai in Kenya. The Maasai arrived in Kenya around 1500 CE and, importantly, are not “indigenous.” However, they are nonetheless part of a pastoral tradition that goes back to 7,000 BCE and that has its origins probably in what is now the Sahara Desert. As the desert expanded, pastoral communities had to find special ecological niches for themselves, such as in Southern Sudan. While it seems difficult to compare the Maasai (cattle) with the Haida (salmon), the point that is worked out in this lecture is the emergence of two types of vastly different yet affluent cultures, neither of which are agriculturalists. One of the prime contributions that pastoralism makes to civilizational narratives is the idea of sacrifice. It pervades many modern religions – Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam in particular.

supporting documents:


Lecture Notes

Quiz with Answers