BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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Livelihoods and Social-Environmental Change in the Syr Darya Delta: Adaptive Strategies and Practices

Samakov, Aibek (2024). Livelihoods and Social-Environmental Change in the Syr Darya Delta: Adaptive Strategies and Practices. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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In this dissertation, I examine how local communities in the Syr Darya River delta (Kazakhstan) have been adapting to rapid social-environmental change. While the current environmental change discourses in the study area overwhelmingly focus on the desiccation of the Aral Sea and its consequences, I focus on the Syr Darya Delta, which represents an interesting case of the rural livelihoods such as herding, fishing, reed mowing, and gardening used by locals as common-pool resources. This case is particularly interesting against the backdrop of the Aral Sea catastrophe, which is often regarded as a classic example of the tragedy of commons. I also draw the reader’s attention to the ontological aspects of the environmental change and describe iconic places, iconic species and iconic forces that shaped the irrigation infrastructure development in the Syr Darya Delta. By analyzing the rural livelihoods in the Syr Darya Delta from the commons perspective, I demonstrate some of the limitations of the commons’ institutional design principles and explain why the tragedy of the commons did not happen in the Syr Darya Delta. I further analyze these livelihoods from commoning perspective and make contributions to the commons literature by highlighting how cooperation and competition unfold concurrently and how the cooperation varies across different steps of commoning. Then, I present an overview of the various adaptation strategies used by the local communities in the Syr Darya Delta. I demonstrate that the commonization of resources served as an overarching adaptation strategy, i.e., former state-owned lands and resources have been turned into de-facto common-pool resources. I also describe other adaptive strategies such as shifting agriculture, local soil knowledge, local irrigation techniques and demonstrate how rice-growing corporations can afford a wider range of coping strategies as opposed to a small-scale commoners.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Single
Date of Defense: 8 March 2024
Subjects: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Institute / Center: 06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology
Depositing User: Sarah Stalder
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2024 11:55
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2024 11:55

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