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The Graduate School of
Asian and African
Area Studies (ASAFAS)
Kyoto Univ.
Kyoto University
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Itaru OhtaEmeritus Professor


ohta1 Research Career

I have conducted anthropological fieldwork among African pastoral societies, especially the Turkana in northwestern Kenya (1978–present) and the Himba in northwestern Namibia (1993–1998), focusing on human–animal interactions in livestock herding/husbandry, livestock classification and individual identification, livestock transfer as a medium of social relationships, social change, and inter-ethnic conflicts.

Present Research

My current research focuses on three issues. The first is conflict resolution and coexistence “from below”. I have been working as a representative of a research project, focusing on “African Potentials” (2011-2016). In this project, we explored indigenous knowledge and practice that African people utilized for resolving conflict and materializing coexistence. This research project was developed into the second phase (2016-2021), in which we are dealing with various difficulties (including conflict issues), not only in African societies, but also human society as a whole. Please visit the following websites for this research project.

I have been continuing my research on the social relationships between international refugees living in the Kakuma camp and the local population, the Turkana in northwestern Kenya. I am most interested in how refugees and their hosts created and maintained economic, political, and social interactions (both hostile and amicable) that were vital for their everyday life.

The second focus of my research is inter-ethnic conflict between the Turkana and their neighbors. In investigating this topic, I explore interrelations among local herders, local NGOs working toward peace building, security sectors, and states. The third focus of my interest is the issue of how pastoral people cope with the infiltration of a monetary economy. The question of how people recognize and utilize money, which may perform the same social functions as livestock, i.e., as a medium of exchange, a repository of value, and a standard of value, is an important focus for my research.


Keywords

African area studies, Anthropology, African pastoral societies, conflict resolution, peace building, local practice, indigenous/local/traditional knowledge and institutions, development, social change, risk management, coexistence.

Educational background

Ph.D. Science, Kyoto University, March 1986
M. A. Science, Kyoto University, March 1978
B. A. Science, Kyoto University, March 1976

Occupational background

Kyoto University, Emeritus Professor, April 2019 – present.
Kyoto University, Dean, Graduate School of Asian and African Studies, April 2016 – March 2018.
Kyoto University, Director, Center for African Area Studies, April 2008 – March 2010.
Kyoto University, Professor of Graduate School of Asian and African Studies, April 2004 – March 2019.
Kyoto University, Associate Professor of Graduate School of Asian and African Studies, April 1998 – March 2004.
Kyoto University, Associate Professor of Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, April 1996 – March 1998.
Kyoto University, Associate Professor of Center for African Area Studies, July 1989 – March 1996.
Kyoto University, Assistant Professor of Center for African Area Studies, April 1986 – June 1989.

ohta

Other professional activities

Member of Japan Association of African Studies (President: April 2017 – March 2020)
Member of the Society for Ecological Anthropology
Member of Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology
Member of Japan Association of Nilo-Ethiopian Studies

Selected publications
(1) Books
  • 2019 (I. Ohta and T. Soga, eds.) African Pastoral Values: Anthropological Studies on Transformation. Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese).
  • 2018 (S. Konaka, I. Ohta and X. Sun, eds.) Interrogating Humanitarian Interventions: From Area Studies on African Pastoral Societies. Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese).
  • 2017 (edited with Y. Gebre and M. Matsuda) African Virtues in the Pursuit of Conviviality: Exploring Local Solutions in Light of Global Prescriptions. Bamanda: Langaa RPCIG. Xvi+432pp.
  • 2005 (edited with Y. D. Gebre) Displacement Risks in Africa: Refugees, Resettlers and Their Host Population. Kyoto: Kyoto University Press. 394pp.
  • 2004 (edited with J. Tanaka, S. Sato and K. Sugawara) Nomads in Africa. Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese). 711pp.
  • 1996 (edited with J. Tanaka, M. Kakeya and M. Ichikawa) Anthropological Studies on Nature-dependent Societies. Kyoto: Academia Shuppan (in Japanese). 441pp.
ohta2
(2) Book chapters
  • 2019 (T. Soga and I. Ohta) Introduction: African pastoral values. In (I. Ohta & T. Soga, eds.) African Pastoral Values: Anthropological Studies on Transformation, pp. 1-14, Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese).
  • 2019. Creation of mutual consent and conviviality: Livestock ownership among the Turkana, Rendille and Gabra. In (I. Ohta & T. Soga, eds.) African Pastoral Values: Anthropological Studies on Transformation, pp. 55-90, Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese).
  • 2018. Editor’s note: How we can create collaboration in humanitarian aids. In (S. Konaka, I. Ohta and X. Sun, eds.) Interrogating Humanitarian Interventions: From Area Studies on African Pastoral Societies, pp. 283-290. Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese).
  • 2017. Conflict and coexistence in Africa: From local perspectives. In (M. Endo and Y. Sekiya, eds.) Lectures on Contemporary Africa for Working Professionals, pp. 195-218. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press (in Japanese).
  • 2017. The power to speak, listen, and negotiate in the local meetings of Africa: The palaver of the Bakongo, clan gathering of the Borana, and bridewealth negotiation of the Turkana. In (Y. Gebre, I. Ohta and M. Matsuda, eds.) African Virtues in the Pursuit of Conviviality: Exploring Local Solutions in Light of Global Prescriptions. Bamanda: Langaa RPCIG, pp. 249-274.
  • 2017. (Gebre, Y., I. Ohta and M. Matsuda) Introduction: Achieving peace and coexistence through African Potentials. In (Y. Gebre, I. Ohta and M. Matsuda, eds.) African Virtues in the Pursuit of Conviviality: Exploring Local Solutions in Light of Global Prescriptions. Bamanda: Langaa RPCIG, pp. 3-37.
  • 2012“Earthquake in Eastern Japan, Fukushima, and African Studies: Political Ecology of Arturo Escobar.” In Implementation Committee of Professor Shuhei Shimada’s Retirement (ed.) Diversity, Flexibility, and Uncertainty. Kyoto: ASAFAS, pp. 78-82 (in Japanese).
  • 2007 "Preface." In (S. Xiaogang and N. Naito, eds.) Mobility, Flexibility, and Potential of Nomadic Pastoralism in Eurasia and Africa, ASAFAS Special Paper No. 10, pp. v-vi. Kyoto: Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University.
  • 2005 "Coexisting with Cultural 'Others': Social Relationships between the Turkana and the reugees at Kakuma, Northwest Kenya." In (K. Ikeya and E. Fratkin, eds.) Pastoralists and Their Neighbors in Asia and Africa, pp. 227-239. Senri Ethnological Studies, No. 69. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.
  • 2005 (Y. D. Gebre and I. Ohta) “Introduction: Displacement in Africa - Conceptual and practical concerns - “. In (I. Ohta and Y. D. Gebre, eds.) Displacement Risks in Africa, pp. 1-14. Kyoto: Kyoto University Press. ohta5
  • 2005 Multiple socio-economic relationships improvised between the Turkana and refugees in Kakuma area, northwestern Kenya. In (I. Ohta and Y. D. Gebre, eds.) Displacement Risks in Africa, pp. 315-337. Kyoto: Kyoto University Press.
  • 2004 “Negotiation of bridewealth among the Turkana.” In (J. Tanaka, S. Sato, K. Sugawara and I. Ohta, eds.) Nomads in Africa, pp. 363-392. Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese).
  • 2004 “Points at issue in the study on pastoral societies.” In (J. Tanaka, S. Sato, K. Sugawara and I. Ohta, eds.) Nomads in Africa, pp. 271-288. Kyoto: Showado (in Japanese).
  • 2002 “Livestock and money: Livestock transfer among the Turkana.” In (S. Sato, ed.) The World of Nomadic Pastoral Peoples, pp. 223-266. Kyoto: Kyoto University Press (in Japanese).
  • 2000 “Drought and Mureti's grave: The 'we/us' boundaries between Kaokolanders and the people of Okakarara area in the early 1980's.” In (M. Bollig and J. Gewald, eds.) People, Cattle and Land: Transformations of a Pastoral Society in Southwestern Africa, pp. 299-317. Cologne: Rudiger Koppe Verlag.
  • 1998 “Social change and development among African pastoral societies.” In (Y. Takamura and M. Shigeta, eds.) Issues in African Agriculture, pp. 287-318. Kyoto: Kyoto University Press (in Japanese).
  • 1996 “Rules and negotiations: Livestock ownership among the Turkana.” In (J. Tanaka, M. Kakeya, M. Ichikawa and I. Ohta, eds.) Anthropological Studies on Nature-dependent Societies II, pp. 175-213. Kyoto: Academia Shuppan (in Japanese).
  • 1995 “Culture versus Nature in the animal herding systems of pastoral peoples.” In (K. Fukui, ed.) Symbiosis between Man and Nature, pp. 193-223, Tokyo: Yuuzankaku (in Japanese). ohta6
  • 1991 “Classification of livestock diseases among the Turkana.” In (J. Tanaka & M. Kakeya, eds.) Natural History of Mankind, pp.295-321. Tokyo: Heibonsha (in Japanese).
  • 1986 “Reciprocal exchange among the Turkana.” In (J. Itani & J. Tanaka, eds.) Anthropological Studies on the Nature-dependent Societies, pp. 181-215. Kyoto: Academia Press (in Japanese).
  • 1987 “Livestock management seen as man-animal interaction: The case of Oki-farmers, Japan.” In (K. Fukui & Y. Tani, eds.) Pastoral Cultures, pp. 283-330. Tokyo: Nihon Hoso Shuppankai (in Japanese).
  • 1980 “Property unit and nomadic unit of the Turkana.” In ( J. Tanaka, ed.) A Study of Ecological Anthropology on Pastoral and Agrico-Pastoral Peoples in Northern Kenya, pp. 55-77. Inuyama: Kyoto University Primate Research Institute.
(3) Articles in academic journals
ohta3
Research grants (as the leader of the project)

2019 – 2021, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: Integration of Refugees to the Host Communities in Kenya: Interrogation of Paradigm Shift in Refugee Assistance Programs.

2016 – 2018, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: Negative impact of Oil Exploration on the Local Communities in Kenya: Land Alienation and Conflict.

2011 – 2015, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (S), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: Conflict Resolution and Coexistence through Reassessment and Utilization of “African Potentials.”

2007 – 2010, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: Reassessment of the Value of Local Practices among African Pastoral Societies for Alternative Development.

2001 – 2003, Toyota Foundation: In Pursuit of Refugees’ Coexistence with Local People and Environments: Proposal from Experiences of Republic of Kenya.

1997 – 1999, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A)(2), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: Study of Inherent Logic among Changing African Societies.

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