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Comigrants and friends: informal networks and the transmission of traditional ecological knowledge among seminomadic pastoralists of Gujarat, India

Matthieu Salpeteur, Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
Hanoz H. R. Patel, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat, India
José Luis Molina, Departament d'Antropologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
Andrea L. Balbo, Research Group Climate Change and Security (CLISEC), KlimaCampus, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), University of Hamburg, Germany. * Work partially done while affiliated to Complexity and Socio-Ecological dynamics (CaSEs), Institució Milà i Fontanals, Spanish National Research Council (IMF-CSIC), C/Egipciaques 15, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Xavier Rubio-Campillo, Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), Barcelona, Spain
Victoria Reyes-García, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain; Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
Marco Madella, Complexity and Socioecological Dynamics (CaSEs) Universitat Pompeu Fabra and IMF-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain; Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08332-210220

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that social organization may affect the distribution of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) within local communities of natural resource users in multiple ways. However, in this line of research the potential role of informal relationships has mostly been overlooked. In this article, we contribute toward filling this research gap by studying how two types of informal relationships, namely migration partnership and friendship, affect the distribution of TEK within a community of seminomadic pastoralists from the Kutch area, Gujarat, India. Using social network analysis, we map three networks, migration, men friendship, and women friendship, and compare with similarity-based quantitative approaches the clusters extracted from these networks in relation to four domains of TEK: knowledge about soils, about ethnoveterinary practices, about sheep breeds, and in ethnobotany.
Our results show that (1) migration clusters are associated to significant variations in three TEK domains, while (2) friendship clusters are associated to minor variations. We relate these results to the importance of common practical experiences involved by joint migration. Moreover, kin relations are shown to strongly underlie friendship and migration relations, and as such appear as a potential driver of the dynamics of the local TEK system.
We conclude by advocating for a better inclusion of such informal relationships in future research on local TEK dynamics, following recent developments in studies on natural resource governance.

Key words

friendship; India; informal relationships; migration; pastoralists; Rabari; social network analysis; social organization; traditional ecological knowledge

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087