Ethnographic Setting of Nomadic Pastoralism in Eastern Tibet

  • Gillian G. Tan
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 10)


The region of eastern Tibet is composed of two traditional Tibetan areas, Amdo and Kham, known together as Do Kham. The environmental parameters of this broad region and the variety of pastoralist practices available reveal that the choice to practice nomadic pastoralism is not dictated solely by physical limits. Also important is how Tibetan nomadic pastoralists self-identify as drogpa, or people of the pastures. This chapter introduces the ethnographic setting of the book by providing a general description of Tibetan nomadic pastoralists, their social organization, way of life, movements across pastures, daily labor, and relationships with animals, the environment, and others, including Tibetan farmers, monasteries, and traders. An emic perspective emphasizes the relationships as drelwa that Tibetan nomadic pastoralists have with animals, human others, and nonhuman others. These relationships are nonetheless framed according to categories of value and meaning provided by Tibetan cosmology. This sets a foundation from which to appreciate that change must be understood in its complexity not only through evidence of material products that indicate change but also through analysis of relationships that have altered.


Eastern Tibet Yaks Social organization Monasteries Territorial deities Relationships (drelwa


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gillian G. Tan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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