Enacting Maasai and Palaeoanthropological Versions of Drought in Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania


While palaeoanthropologists have travelled to Tanzania’s renowned human origins site of Oldupai Gorge for over a century, lasting collaboration has yet to be established with the Maasai pastoralists who inhabit the area. This paper uses actor-network-theory and the concept of enactment to compare palaeoanthropological and Maasai livelihoods and to explore why collaboration has been infrequent. Here we show that both groups’ subsistence strategies had to effectively navigate large political-economic contexts. To support their respective livelihoods, scientists and locals expertly acquired resources in non-scientific and non-pastoral worlds. Both Maasai peoples and researchers created and multiplied reality and ontologies by enacting composite – yet conflicting – versions of hybrid drought. The exigencies associated with palaeoanthropological and Maasai subsistence have hindered meaningful collaboration between the groups, despite the fact that members of both dug in the Gorge to address drought. While the legitimisation of scientific ontologies is ultimately well-intentioned, Maasai drought unfortunately remains unaddressed.


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Research Papers
Feb 15, 2021
How to Cite
Lee, P., Koromo, S., Mercader, J. and Mather, C. (2021) “Enacting Maasai and Palaeoanthropological Versions of Drought in Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania”, Science & Technology Studies, 34(1), pp. 43-64. doi: 10.23987/sts.80516.