China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The Tibetan Plateau, the source of most of East, Southeast, and South Asia’s major rivers, is largely a grazing land. Since the late 1990s, Tibetan pastoralists have been confronted with a mandatory rangeland fencing policy, premised on Tragedy of the Commons assumptions, which has greatly altered traditional communal grazing practices. This was followed by ecological migration policies and a mass rehousing policy, which have together resettled and relocated more than one million Tibetan pastoralists from rural villages into urban and semi-urban towns. This panel brings together a group of Tibetan scholars who have conducted long-term fieldwork research on the social and cultural impacts of rangeland fencing and resettlement policies and pursues the following questions: (1) How Tibetan pastoralists’ privatized relationships to and uses of land have reshaped older frameworks of collective prosperity and social reciprocity that were centered on households and ensconced in ritualized community networks and divinely protected ancestral territories? (2) By what new measures do Tibetan pastoralists evaluate changes to land use and what new strategies do they forge to adapt to the new collective dynamics among animals and people? (3) What kinds of intergenerational and gendered differences are there in responses to the changes and continuities of rangeland management? This panel brings the nuanced analytic tools of ethnography and long-term fieldwork research to bear in grasping the multiple facets of the fencing and resettlement polices by exploring the ways in which people cope with, contest, and creatively respond to external changes across the Tibetan Plateau and beyond.