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Research, Policy and Practice

Pastoralism Cover Image

Introducing the PASTRES Early Career Researcher Award

We are happy to announce a prize for the best paper by an early career researcher, practitioner or policy-maker. The prize will cover the costs of publishing an open access paper in the journal, and the winning paper will be shown on the home page as the ”Editor’s Featured Article”. We will nominate three or more candidates and ask the Journal’s Editorial Board  to select a winner and runner-up. 

The prize is supported by the PASTRES (Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience: Global Lessons from the Margins) research programme through funding from a European Research Council Advanced Grant (no: 740342).


Aims and scope

Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice investigates extensive livestock production systems throughout the world from a variety of disciplinary perspectives across the biophysical, social and economic sciences. The journal publishes research, reviews, reports and commentaries that influence public policy on the rangelands and livestock on which pastoralists rely for their livelihoods. These studies are not applied in the traditional sense, but through publishing basic research in this field Pastoralism acts as a forum for sharing information between scientists, policy makers and practitioners, with the aim of improving the welfare of pastoralists and better conserving the environments in which they live and the livestock upon which they rely.

The journal was founded in 2009 by Roy Behnke and Carol Kerven, social anthropologists who have each worked for forty years in pastoral and rangeland research and development in many countries. Carol is the Editor-in-Chief and Roy is the Book Review editor.

Pastoralism is now in ESCI

Emerging Sources Citation Index is a new edition in Web of Science Core Collection - part of Clarivate Analytics. ESCI is a multidisciplinary Citation Index covering all areas of the scholarly literature of the sciences, social sciences and arts & humanities. The selection process for ESCI is related to the process applied to SCIE, SSCI and AHCI. Journals accepted for coverage in ESCI must be peer reviewed, follow ethical publishing practices, meet our technical requirements, have English language bibliographic information, and be recommended or requested by a scholarly audience of Web of Science users.

Article publishing charges, waivers and sponsorships

Open access publishing is not without costs. Pastoralism therefore levies an article-processing charge (APC) of £1240.00/$1690.00/€1490.00 for each article accepted for publication. Pastoralism can waive the APC for a number of articles at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief. More information about APCs, memberships and waiver programs can be found here.

Special Collection: Resilience and economic development in Karamoja

New Content ItemThis special edition of Pastoralism is a collection of papers emerging out of the “Pathways to Resilience in the Karamoja Cluster” conference, held in Uganda in May 2019. The objective of the conference was to take stock of recent research in the Karamoja Cluster in of Eastern Africa, being an area where pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities share sociocultural-linguistic ties across parts of  Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia. 

Take a look at the collection here

Review Editor’s Featured Articles

'Different knowledge systems reign in the tundra than in the slaughterhouses…'

Roy Behnke

Fig 2 from “Precious blood and nourishing offal: past and present slaughtering perspectives in Sámi reindeer pastoralism”. © All pictures are by Ravdna Biret Marja E. Sara and photo collage by Johtti Productions.

Illustrated above are instruments used to kill reindeer to provide food for humans. These instruments also provide tangible evidence of a difference in perspective.

In 2008 the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled that Sámi slaughtering practices which used a long straight knife (on the top image) were illegal and inhumane. Instead, humane killing could only take place in factories that used a bolt gun (on the lower image) to begin the process of dismembering living animals into consumer commodities. The resulting fillets and steaks had never been central to Sámi food culture. Lost were parts of the total animal that Sámi had valued as food – blood, the head, intestines, and hooves – that now became waste or dog food.

In Precious blood and nourishing offal: Past and present slaughtering perspectives in Sámi reindeer pastoralism Sara et al. argue that traditional Sámi slaughter practices were actually more humane than bolt guns and carcass disassembly lines and that ‘the tightly coupled relationship between reindeer herders and reindeers positively affected animal welfare before the nomadic Sámi reindeer husbandry transformed into a Norwegian industry.’ ‘Different knowledge systems’ they conclude, ‘reign in the tundra than in the slaughterhouses.’

The theme of different knowledge systems runs through three additional articles on reindeer herding in northern Eurasia recently published in Pastoralism. In Productivity beyond density: A critique of management models for reindeer pastoralism in Norway Marin et al. assess the evidence for current Norwegian government interventions to modernize Sámi herding practices. These efforts focus on government attempts to regulate animal numbers, and to prescribe the proper sex and age composition of reindeer herds, with success measured in terms of the carcass weights of slaughtered deer. Marin et al. question the uniform applicability of the government model given local geographical variations and fluctuating weather conditions, and propose output per unit area as an additional measure of pastoral productivity. They base their critique on a reanalysis of existing statistical data and on conversations with reindeer herders. Many Norwegian reindeer herders, they conclude, have rational reasons to deviate from government directives, given the variable circumstances under which they operate.

In Unfounded claims about productivity beyond density for reindeer pastoralism systems Stein et al. again revaluate statistical data to cast doubt on the conclusions arrived at by Marin et al. In conformity with government policy, they argue that animal densities are not of minor importance for reindeer productivity and animal welfare. They do not discuss the extent to which Sámi herders agree.

In Reindeer Herding Statistics in Russia: Issues of reliability, interpretation, and political effect. Istomin et al., examine the complexities of statistically based and ostensibly objective knowledge systems. They show that official Soviet/Russian statistics reflected the world as the state wanted to see it, even if it did not completely correspond to the world ‘out there’. In Soviet times, the state attempted to change this world to better correspond to the statistics. These attempts were driven by the pursuit of what Istomin et al. call ‘magical numbers’ – the statistical targets set by officials to assess the quality of reindeer herding management.

The potentially distorting effects of pursuing ‘magical’ statistical targets is not confined to Soviet Russia. As described by Marin et al., carcass weights and prescribed herd structures are ‘magical numbers’ currently employed by the Norwegian state to regulate reindeer herding in conformity with state expectations. As Sara et al. concluded, different knowledge systems may reign on the tundra than in Norwegian slaughterhouses – or in Norwegian government offices or in the statistical services that support them. Beyond Norway or the USSR, almost all reindeer herders in Eurasia live in what Istomin et al. call high modernist states, states with the economic and administrative wherewithal to force reality into preconceived categories. Maybe it’s time for managers and administrators in these states to also talk to pastoralists and listen respectfully, if critically, to what they say.

Editor's quote

Raising domesticated livestock on extensive pastures is one of the oldest human adaptations as a system of provisioning and land use. More than 40% of the earth's land area is still used as grazing land, by peoples from the tropics to the sub-Arctic, and include ranchers, nomads and farmers. The Pastoralism Journal is the only platform focused on the extensive land use of livestock-dependent production systems, covering biophysical, policy, social, economic, technical and cultural issues.

Policies and development programmes for pastoralists and their environments need to be founded on up-to-date, factual and objective information about what is happening, why and where it is happening and on the impacts. While many development agencies publish summaries and syntheses of primary material, the Pastoralism Journal provides open access to primary material upon which syntheses can be reliably based.

All the journal’s papers are free to anyone with internet access anywhere in the world, and the authorship of the journal is highly international, with 120 first authors spread across the world, affiliated to institutions in 38 different countries ranging from Argentina to Yemen.

Carol Kerven, Editor-in-Chief

Annual Journal Metrics

Indexing services

  • All articles published in Pastoralism are listed in the following indexing services:

    • SCOPUS
    • CAB Abstracts
    • CAB International
    • DOAJ
    • Global Health
    • OCLC
    • SCImago
    • Summon by Proquest