Programm (in English)

International Research Group "Nomadism, society and environment in Central and Northern Asia"

Central and Northern Asia’s main ecosystems, steppe, taiga and tundra, constitute the domain of indigenous societies that are chiefly based on pastoralism and hunting, often combined. These activities generally involve a mobile use of the environment, and, therefore, a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle. Particularly through transhumance, the heritage of nomadic pastoralism has remained strong until now.

What relations do the nomadic societies traditionally maintain with their environment? How were these interactions transformed under the influence of sedentarisation policies? How do they adapt to new economic constraints, to growing competition for land, and to the change in climate and environment?

The research on this area is generally fragmented, because of different academic traditions that specialize either on Central Asia, Mongolia or Siberia. Some focus on pastoralists, others on hunter-gatherers. However, Russian tsarist colonialism and later socialist governments subjected the nomads of these regions to similar policies, triggering comparable changes. At a cultural and linguistic level, these regions are all dominated by the populations of the Altaic family, which are currently endeavouring to rebuild their identities through their nomadic heritage. Common shamanic traditions contribute to raising a specific relationship with the landscape and its sacred elements. This GDRI aims to bring together the top specialists in this field in order to carry out a comparative global research on common problems and diverse situations of nomadism in the Central and Northern Asia.

Researchers engaged in this pluridisciplinary program will cooperate to collect new data on the domain by fieldwork and archive research. Through workshops and conferences they will conduct a comparative analysis of the situations studied. The team will devote special effort to the spread of knowledge through publications and a database.


Main themes:

- Nomadism and the relationship to the environment

- Human-animal relationships in pastoralism and hunting

- Transfer of nomadic knowledge and education

- Nomads’ adaptations to economic transformations and environmental change