Introduction: The Articulation-Sphere Approach to Humanitarian Assistance to East African Pastoralists

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This article introduces and provides an overview of the main theme of this volume and explores the possibility of localizing humanitarian assistance frameworks with regard to East African pastoralists. It is incorrect to depict the livelihood of East African pastoralists without considering humanitarian assistance and its secondary effects. However, too little attention has been paid to the issue. Many studies have revealed that humanitarian assistance is not necessarily a neutral, impartial, and apolitical act. In addition, cultural diversity has not yet been examined thoroughly in humanitarian research, although humanitarian assistance is not an acultural practice. To respond to cultural diversity and current reality of the transformation, I introduce the "articulation-sphere approach, " which focuses on the intermediate realm between the local and the universal. This approach may not only show us an initial sign of the self-help efforts of the victims themselves after disasters, but also opens up the possibility of localizing universal humanitarian assistance frameworks from below. With this approach, I reexamine the personal, temporal, and spatial frameworks of humanitarian assistance in East African pastoral societies. Subsequently, I also give an overview of the articulation of the primary frameworks of humanitarian assistance and East African pastoralism. Lastly, I show the perspective and significance of the articulation sphere approach.


  • African study monographs. Supplementary issue.

    African study monographs. Supplementary issue. (53), 1-17, 2017-03

    The Research Committee for African Area Studies, Kyoto University


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