Introduction

Of late, pastoral society in East Africa has been in constant crisis due to recurrent droughts and conflicts involving assault rifles. As a result, humanitarian assistance is now almost the norm.

People and organizations that provide humanitarian assistance generally emphasize factors that universally apply to the human race. In addition, providers of humanitarian assistance do not necessarily have any expert knowledge of the local culture. Consequently, the need to respect the diversity of an area’s culture can sometimes become an issue that affects the delivery of humanitarian assistance. This problem can become acute for practitioners who work with distinct cultural groups, such as East Africa’s pastoral societies

In this research project, researchers who have studied pastoral societies in East Africa propose to investigate the area in which humanitarian assistance and pastoral culture interact (the articulation sphere) and to explore their negotiations through fieldwork, carrying out research on location. Our findings will be tested primarily by practitioners with experience of international cooperation. We aim to expand the scope of this study by comparing our findings with those of research projects that investigated hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists in Africa.

The ultimate aim of this project is to localize the framework of humanitarian assistance, which is premised on human universality, within the reality of pastoral society—from the viewpoint of comprehensive area studies undertaken by interdisciplinary teams of specialists. This approach will enable us to uncover the latent potential of the area, ultimately helping these communities to find a way to escape from the pattern of assistance-dependency.

In Japan, a group of researchers in area studies and ecological anthropology has been researching East African pastoral society since 1961; their findings have been cited in overseas academic publications, and are highly acclaimed internationally. The project team is made up of ten of the abovementioned researchers from various disciplines; all have been researching Africa for a long time.

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