Ryan R. Unks
Social science research in rangelands has increasingly shown how the expertise and webs of relations of pastoralists enables them to benefit from highly variable environments. This work has also shown how pastoralists are modifying their practices in complex ways in response to new social, political, economic, and biophysical uncertainties. However, numerous disciplinary and conceptual divides prevent incorporation of these understandings of social complexity into analyses of landscape change. Drawing from two case studies in semi-arid rangelands in Kenya, this project uses analyses of landscape ecological change and pastoralist livelihoods side by side with the goal of producing insights for conceptual and methodological synthesis. This project critically engages with different conceptualizations of socio-ecological relations, and through integrating insights from recent anthropology and human geography into analysis of landscape vegetation change has a primary objective of understanding how governance processes at different scales have shaped land use patterns and ecological processes. This research uses ethnographic analysis of livelihood change and governance interventions to elucidate how political, economic, and social relations have influenced livestock herding and other land uses at different temporal and spatial scales. A typology of livelihood changes will then guide mixed-satellite analysis of vegetation changes and spatial patterns of forage availability for livestock. Focusing on linkages between social and ecological change at different scales, this projects aims to develop new approaches for conceptualizing feedbacks between drivers of vegetation change and socially differentiated use of resources.
Associated SESYNC Researcher(s):