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NELC 106 - Pastoral Nomadism

Pastoral nomadism is a "third way" of human subsistence separate from farming and foraging. It is a sustainable human adaptation to grassland and arid environments practiced through particular technologies and domesticated animals. This course begins by examining the human ecology and social organization that emerge from mobile ways of life, drawing on modern, ethnographic, and archaeological examples of pastoral nomadic groups in the Middle East and Central Asia. Academic readings and ethnographic films will form the basis of discussions about several larger themes, including: the origins of pastoral nomadism and horse riding; the development of dairy-based foods and human adaptations allowing the digestion of lactose; the historical relationship between mobile groups of pastoralists and territorial states; popular perceptions of nomads in various forms of historical and modern media; and the influence of ideas about nomads on modern senses of heritage and nationalism in the Middle East and Central Asia.
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