Departmental Bulletin Paper Day-to-Day Accumulation of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge: A Case Study of Pastoral Maasai Children in Southern Kenya

TIAN, Xiaojie

37 ( 2 )  , pp.75 - 102 , 2016-06 , The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
This study focuses on pastoral Maasai children in Kenya with the goal of understanding the processes by which children accumulate Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK) in the context of their current social and natural environment. I examine how children accumulate IEK through their participation in livestock management activities in a Maasai village on the Kuku Group Ranch in southern Kenya. In addition to attending school, Maasai children participate in different pastoral chores as part of their daily routines. Participation in these activities is gradual and involves observation, helping with tasks, and direct action, according to the individual developmental stage of the child and established Maasai gender-age roles. At about 2 years of age, children begin to participate in pastoral chores, starting with easy tasks such as livestock herd separation and gathering. Children 10 years of age and older independently take part in pastoral chores that require comprehensive IEK utilization. A high frequency of daily participation in livestock management shows children’s willingness to become a qualified Maasai adult. My findings indicate that a child’s participation in formal education does not necessarily result in a decrease in in situ pastoral IEK accumulation, as long as the child is actively participating in pastoral chore routines.

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