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Embracing uncertainty: rethinking migration policy through pastoralists' experiences

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posted on 2022-11-21, 17:33 authored by Natasha Kirit Maru, Michele Nori, Ian ScoonesIan Scoones, Greta Semplici, Anna TriandafyllidouAnna Triandafyllidou

Today there is a disjuncture between migration flows that are complex, mixed and constantly evolving and the emerging global migration governance paradigm that seeks to impose clarity, certainty, regularity and order. Addressing the gap between policies and realities, this article explores lessons for migration policy and governance from mobile pastoralists' experience. Using examples from human migration flows within and between Europe and Africa and insights from pastoral systems from India, Italy and Kenya, the article identifies important similarities between international migration and pastoral mobility. We focus on four interconnections: both international migration and pastoral mobility show multi-directional and fragmented patterns; both involve multiple, intersecting socio-economic, political, cultural and environmental drivers; both must respond to non-linear systems, where critical junctures and tipping points undermine clear prediction and forecasts, making social navigation and reliability management more useful concepts than risk-based prediction and control and finally for both uncertainty is not conceived of as a state of crisis but an inherent feature, pregnant with possibility and hope. Building on these four points, and drawing from pastoralists' experiences, we propose some methodological, practical and policy reflections for bridging the disjuncture between migration realities on the ground and global migration governance policies and discourses.

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