chapter  1
13 Pages

Transhumant pastoralism in historic landscapes

Beginning a European perspective
ByEugene Costello, Eva Svensson

Pastoralism offers a vast field of study, and within it transhumant practices represent an important range of past and contemporary human mobility strategies. In its widest sense, transhumance may simply be described as seasonal movement of livestock. Transhumance could serve as a kind of pioneer farming system in non-arable land, or it could succeed permanent settlement in certain areas after year-round farming had been abandoned. It offers an unusually rich insight into the creation of social practice amongst farming peoples, in that every variant was a navigation of economic opportunity, social situation and environmental circumstance. Boundary objects are objects which are both plastic enough to adapt to local needs and the constraints of several parties employing them, yet robust enough to maintain a common identity across sites. Transhumant activities form part of a rural palimpsest, where the landscape contains many overlapping chronological features and layers. The routine decision-making or 'path dependence' of people in transhumance was influenced by that palimpsest.