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MYNA at IUAES-WAU World Anthropology Congress in Delhi

In October 2023, Joana and Troy participated in the 19th IUAES-WAU World Anthropology Congress in Delhi, India. They presented in the Panel Change and continuity of Inner Asian pastoral societies affected by external factors, convened by Professor Takahiro Ozaki (Kagoshima University) and Dr. Ariell Ahearn (University of Oxford; Commission for Nomadic Peoples).

Troy’s talk, entitled Women herders’ changing role in Gobi pastoralism, called our attention to Mongolian herder women’s important, yet frequently unrecognized, contributions to herding processes, household decision-making and community organisation. It also touched upon women’s daily life’s religious and ritual dimensions, in their connection with nature, and their deep knowledge of environmental dynamics.

Joana’s presentation (co-authored with MYNA’s Angela Kronenburg García, Stanley ole Neboo, and Lenaai and Matinkoi ole Mowuo), entitled War or Well being? Maasai meat camps as a response to COVID-19 examined how meat camps (ilpuli), which were an early response to the pandemic lockdown measures in southern Kenyan Maasai communities, promoted well being across its multiple dimensions, including the spiritual dimension. Ilpuli are gatherings of men in secluded bush areas where they consume large quantities of meat and herbal medicines, and socialize and pray. Pandemic ilpuli have accommodated the beliefs and practices of their Pentecostal Cristian participants, but have also created tension within local communities by reviving traditional post-ilpuli celebrations and performances that Pentecostal churches object to and try to eradicate.

News Archive

Amadu Djaló is a PhD student in African Studies at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL) supervised by Joana Roque de Pinho. His thesis focuses on alternative models of development in a remote island community of Guinea-Bissau. For the MYNA project he is assisting with a systematic review on religious change(s) and environmental change(s) in drylands. 

Richard ole Supeet is a Kisonko Maasai pastoralist living in Loitokitok, Isinet, Kajiado County, Kenya. He is from the Ilaiserr clan, Iloodokishu subclan. He is of the IIkidotu age-set, and also farms. By profession, he is a teacher. He owns a local private school through which he aims to lift the standard of education in his community. Richard is also an experienced research assistant who has worked on multiple research projects. Richard and Joana Roque de Pinho worked closely together from 2000 to 2004, and again in 2009 when he took part in the documentary “Through our eyes: a Maasai photograhic journey” (2010)  by Lindsay Simpson & Joana Roque de Pinho 

Batbuyan Batjav is a social-economic geographer who has worked on nomadic pastoral issues in Mongolia for two decades. A former Director of the Mongolian Institute of Geography, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, Colorado State University, University of Arizona and Cambridge University. He is dedicated to strengthening pastoralism as a viable contemporary livelihood.

Lenaai ole Mowuo is a Loita Maasai from Kenya, and belongs to the Ilmeshuki age-group and the Ilaiser clan. He keeps cattle, sheep, goats and bees; grows beans, maize and potatoes; and is also a boda-boda (motorbike taxi) rider. Lenaai has worked as a research assistant and a co-researcher in several research projects since 2007, and features in the film All Eyez on Me! (2021). In the MYNA project, he contributes to the Loita case-study that explores the links between land demarcation, the expansion of new churches and cultural change.  

Stanley ole Neboo, 36 years old, married with two children, is a livestock keeper in the Maasai Mara, Narok County, Kenya. Stanley studied business management, tourism, and conservation. He currently works as a freelance safari guide and is the Chairman of the Talek River User Association (Talek WRUA). He is one of the filmmakers in the award-winning participatory documentary “Maasai Voices on Climate Change (and other changes, too)  (2013; Jean Rouch Award for Collaborative Filmmaking). He contributes to the Maasai Mara case study with research on the role and position of Evangelical churches vis-à-vis rapid changes occurring on the land (fencing, climatic instability, land selling, conservation) and in family life.

Lhagvademchig Jadamba

Dr. Lhagvademchig Jadamba, in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, National University of Mongolia, is a cultural anthropologist specialized in Buddhist studies. His interests include religion in post-socialist Mongolia, religious diplomacy, Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism and Buddhist art and literature. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the Center for International Studies (CEI), University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE) and lives in Portugal with his family. He is also an advisor to the National Security Council of Mongolia. 

Batbuyan Batjav is a social-economic geographer who has worked on nomadic pastoral issues in Mongolia for two decades. A former Director of the Mongolian Institute of Geography, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, Colorado State University, University of Arizona and Cambridge University. He is dedicated to strengthening pastoralism as a viable contemporary livelihood.

Megan Wainwright has a BA in Anthropology (McGill University) and MSc and PhD in Medical Anthropology (Durham University). She has worked as an independent research consultant since 2018 and lives in rural Portugal. She is passionate about research methods and the contribution anthropological and qualitative research approaches can make beyond disciplinary boundaries. She has expertise in qualitative evidence synthesis and is working with members of the MYNA team on a systematic review of the relationship(s) between environmental change(s) and religious change(s) in drylands. She also produces podcasts and provides methodological support to the project.

Zaira Tas graduated from her BA Liberal Arts and Sciences: Global Challenges in 2022 and has focused her studies on environmental sustainability and development. She has a particular interest in how the environment and human society interact and affect one another. She joined the MYNA team as a consultant, working on a systematic literature review examining the relationship between religious changes and environmental changes in dryland areas. She also accompanied team members on a recent field trip to Kenya, where she assisted with project management and interviews.

Angela Kronenburg García is an anthropologist, whose work has focused on resource access and land-use change in African drylands. She contributes to the MYNA project with case-studies in Mozambique and Kenya. In northern Mozambique, she explores how the expansion of Christian commercial farming is changing land use in a region that is partly Muslim and where the local population largely depends on small-scale (subsistent) farming for a living. In Kenya, she studies how the re-start of individual land demarcation, the proliferation of Evangelical churches and changes in Maasai culture connect in Loita.

Troy Sternberg Extensive travel led to Troy’s interest in desert regions, environments and people. Research focuses on extreme climate hazards (drought, dzud), environments (water, steppe vegetation, desertification) and social dynamics (pastoralists, social-environmental interaction, religion and environmental change, mining and communities).

Joana Roque de Pinho is an ecologist and environmental anthropologist whose research focuses on changing West and East African sub-humid and dryland social-ecological systems; and how members of rural natural-resource reliant communities experience and understand environmental changes. She is most passionate about collaborating directly with rural community members as collaborative researchers/visual ethnographers through participatory visual research methodologies. For the MYNA project, she explores the intersection of religious transformations with livelihoods, land tenure/use changes and climatic instability. She contributes a multi-sited Kenyan case-study that explores the neglected role of Christianity in Maasailand’s social-ecological dynamics, and participates in the Mongolia and Mozambique case studies.