Collegium Helveticum

Ethnography, Economy and Ecology of Pastoralism in Kazakhstan
Capitalism and the Future of Central Eurasian Grasslands


Venue & accessibility info: Meridian Hall, Collegium Helveticum

This is a public event. Participation is free of charge and registration is not required.

For approximately five thousand years people living on the territory of what is today Kazakhstan have practiced various forms of animal husbandry within the territory’s various grassland ecologies. The previous 150 years have been marked by the often cruel and unusual policies of sedentarization, the settling of a nomadic population. Despite the settlement policies of tsardom and the Soviet Union, the last decades of the Soviet system actually encouraged limited forms of mobility that had encouraging effects for the country’s livestock industry.

Today Kazakhstan finds itself at a crossroads with fewer and fewer people wishing to move with their stock, and wealthier herders opting for ranching methods and patterns. Much of the scientific literature for the past twenty years demonstrates some of the perils of these practices, perils that now affect some of the world’s richest and leading livestock-producing countries.

This roundtable assesses and discusses ideas and possible solutions for livestock and herding practices that have the potential to maintain a viable, global industry while committing less damage to one of the earth’s most valuable and fragile grassland systems. The great concern hinges on whether or not a growing capitalist system will opt for a varied approach with climate change and global warming uppermost in mind.



Opening & Welcome words

Sebastian Bonhoeffer
Collegium Helveticum


Kazakhstan and Eurasian Grasslands Pastoralism
Historical, Economic and Ethno-Ecological Perspectives

Russell Zanca
Collegium Helveticum
Northeastern Illinois University, US


Kazakh Pastoralism in the 21st Century and the Impact from Changing Land Tenure and Institutions

Sarah Robinson
University of Giessen, DE


Coffee break


Comparing Pastoralist Productive Practices and Outlooks in Kazakhstan and Mongolia

Peter Finke
University of Zurich, CH


The Post-Soviet Kazakh Steppe: Do New Types of Livestock and Technologies Promote or Demote Pastoralism?

Ulan Bigozhin
Nazarbayev University, KZ

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