Barton, J. 1921. ‘Notes on the Suk tribe of Kenia colony’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 51: 82-99 [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Beech, M.W.H. 1911. The Suk, their language and folklore. Oxford: Clarendon Press [archive.org]

The linguistic and ethnographic material presented entertainingly in this brief volume should go far toward the solution of several problems of inner Africa. Mr. Beech has not only identified the Suk with the better-known stock of the Masai through their Nandi connections, but the careful detail which he offers may be expected to broaden our knowledge of the Masai themselves. In one rather important particular this study is unique in ethnography. We have no small number of instances in which human societies are known to have changed their environment and consequently their habit of life, but we lack the record of the period in which the change is operative. Mr. Beech makes it clear that the Suk are found in this rare stage of flux. In origin they are fugitives, sad remnants of war who have found a lonely refuge in the readily defensible gully lands of the Elgeyo escarpment. In this condition of safety and seclusion the Suk have progressed to an agricultural development. With accretion of numbers as an internal result of the fastness security and also in continuance of the external refugee system the Suk have become sufficiently strong to advance upon the plains. Here they have become a pastoral people, nomadic within safe limits which yet are sufficiently extended to cancel whatever idea of house and home has been reached in their agricultural stage. This change of habitat affords opportunity for a study of cultural modification as interesting as it is rare under actual observation. The student of speech in Africa will welcome the minute grammatical record presented in this volume, and the copious vocabulary will fit into its place in the examination of the Masai-Nandi group. [Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 44: 299-300]


Bianco, B. 1991. ‘Women and thing: Pokot motherhood as political destiny’. American Ethnologist 18: 770-785 [subscription required]

Among the cattle-keeping Pokot of northwestern Kenya, women use cowhide belts to support and to undermine the clans for which they bear children. By analyzing the design, symbolic associations, and uses of these commonplace but extraordinarily powerful items of adornment, this article shows how one East African patrilineal society deals with the problematic nature of maternal nurture. More generally, it suggests that by attending to the wide variety of things that women make and wear, we may achieve a better understanding of the political ramifications of motherhood. [Abstract]


Bianco, B. 1992. ‘The historical anthropology of a mission hospital in northwestern Kenya’. Unpublished PhD. New York. New York University.

This study examines the shift from home to hospital care in an outlying district of northwestern Kenya during the late colonial period to the present. Drawing on field and archival data, it argues that the incorporation of a western medical institution into a non-western therapeutic landscape is best understood in terms of the changing politics of vulnerability that linked european newcomers and African natives. Like the provision of hospital care, the use of hospital services was also caught up in the tensions of empire. Ethnographically, the study calls attention to a place, a time period, and a kind of missionary that have received relatively little attention in the anthropological and historical literature on christian evangelism and colonial rule. The missionaries who ran the hospital in west Pokot were women rather than men of the cloth. Members of the Irish Catholic Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, they began working in the district in 1956 when the modalities of British administration had long been established and missionaries acted less as agents of empire than as envoys of God. The gender of the missionaries and the time of their arrival are critical to understanding how Pokot men and women made sense of the hospital and its medicines and staff. As a locus of inquiry, the hospital itself challenges commonplace understandings about the dynamics of colonial and cross-cultural encounters because it constitutes one of the few settings in which Europeans and Africans were drawn together by physical contact and mutual dependence. Analytically, the study seeks to determine what an historical anthropology of a complex organization in a non-Western setting might look like. By analyzing the explanatory vocabularies that British civil servants, Irish Catholic nuns, and Pokot cattle-keepers invoked to make sense of themselves, one another, and their various misfortunes, the study charts the changing public imagery of the hospital, along with the sociological imaginations of the men and women who gathered in and around its wards. [Abstract]


Bianco, B. 1996. ‘Songs of mobility in West Pokot’. American Ethnologist 23: 25-42 [subscription required]

Expert witnesses and scholars have been unable to locate the wellsprings of the postwar millennial ardor of the Pokot, an East African cattle-keeping people seemingly untouched by modernity and colonial rule. In this article I provide a revisionist reading of Pokot religious enthusiasm and the social terrain in which it took shape. Drawing primarily on new ethnographic data about the activities and aspirations of Pokot adherents of the proscribed Dini ya Msambwa movement, I argue that the lure of an earthly Zion in a Kenyan colonial backwater bespeaks a crisis of mobility in the spiritual and material worlds. More generally, I show how millennialism in colonial settings may remake modernity by relocating its iconographies and technologies of power and worth. [Abstract]


Bianco, B. 2000. ‘Gender and material culture in West Pokot, Kenya’. In D.L. Hodgson (ed.) Rethinking pastoralism in Africa: gender, culture and the myth of the patriarchal pastoralist. Oxford: James Currey, pp. 29-42.

Barbara Bianco explores how Pokot women in northwestern Kenya make and use cowhide belts to support and sometimes undermine th clans for which they bear children. By analyzing the design, symbolic associations, and uses of these commonplace but extraordinarily powerful items of adornment, she shows how on East Africa patrilineal society deals with the problematic nature of maternal nurture. More generally, the chapter suggests that, by attending to the wide variety of things that women make and wear, we may achieve a better understanding of the poltical ramifications of motherhood. [Hodgson/James Currey]


Bollig, M. 1990. ‘An outline of pre-colonial Pokot culture’. Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 23: 73-91.

No abstract/review available yet.


Bollig, M. 1990. ‘Ethnic conflicts in North-West Kenya: Pokot-Turkana Raiding 1969-1984’. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 115: 73-90.

No abstract/review available yet.


Bollig, M. 1992. ‘East Pokot Camel Husbandry’. Nomadic Peoples 31: 34-50. [PDF]

The pastoral Pokot of northwestern Kenya only started to practice camel husbandry to any large extent this century. Nowadays about one third of the population possesses camel herds. However, even these herds are usually small and a herder with more than ten camels is regarded as exceptionally rich. This paper documents biological data on Pokot camel herds (fertility, mortality, diseases) and summarises information on management practices (herding, milking, veterinary treatment). Finally the use of camels in none-subsistence-orientated types of exchange is described. Camels are valuable assets in brideweath donations and formalised livestock-friendships, they are a means of exchange in the local market and a currency which can be exchanged for goats or cattle in times of need. [Abstract]


Bollig, M. 1994. ‘Pokot social organization structures, networks and ideology’. In T. Geider and R. Kastenholz (eds.) Sprachen und Sprachzeugnisse in Afrika. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe, pp. 63-87.

No abstract/review available yet.


Bollig, M. 1995. ‘The veterinary system of the pastoral Pokot’. Nomadic Peoples 36/7: 17-34.

No abstract/review available yet.


Bollig, M and Schulte, A. 1999. ‘Environmental change and pastoral perceptions: degradation and indigenous knowledge in two African pastoral communities Human Ecology 27: 493-514 [subscription required]

Mobile livestock herders have long been seen as the main culprits of over-stocking and rangeland degradation. In recent years, however, anthropologists and ecologists have argued that African pastoralists have developed sustainable modes of pasture management based on a sound knowledge of savanna ecosystems. Comparing indigenous knowledge on species’ grazing values, plant succession, and ideas about the causes for environmental change in two African pastoral societies (the Kenyan Pokot and the Namibian Himba), it is shown that their knowledge is indeed fine-grained and complex but at the same time socially constructed and embedded in ideology. It relates to a cultural landscape and not to abstract considerations on climax vegetation and its changes over time. Pastoral knowledge is built up around the interaction between herds and vegetation rather than around the environment as such. [Abstract]


Bollig, M. 2000. ‘Staging social structures: ritual and social organisation in an egalitarian society. The pastoral Pokot of Northern Kenya’ Ethnos 65: 341-365 [subscription required]

The pastoral Pokot of northern Kenya represent their society as highly structured by descent and age grading. Descent groups (clans, lineages) and age grades (age sets, generation sets) are depicted as bounded but related units within a complex hierarchical and coherent system, the essence of Pokot society which is staged and visualised in major rituals. This study shows that they are not important in Pokot economic exchange. The formal analysis of livestock exchange networks centred upon individuals shows that emic representations do not match actual exchange behaviour. Complementing the well-established structuralist representation of pastoral social systems, this paper investigates the agency aspect, which has been largely unexplored. It furthermore documents how social exchange is contained in the various institutions of descent and age grading. Contextualising the case historically it is shown that the pastoral Pokot developed from a fragmented clan-based agro-pastoral society in which descent was the main ordering principle for land tenure and conflict management into a more comprehensive social entity with clearly definable borders to the outside, dense internal exchange networks and strong representations of the corporateness of subgroups. The rapid adoption of mobile livestock husbandry was accompanied by the rise of widespread exchange networks and social interaction with a much wider group of unrelated actors marking the foundations of a pastoral society. [Abstract]


Bollig, M. 2006. Risk Management in a Hazardous Environment: A Comparative Study of Two Pastoral Societies. New York: Springer. [Google Books Preview]

A research focus on hazards, risk perception and risk minimizing strategies is relatively new in the social and environmental sciences. This volume by a prominent scholar of East African societies is a powerful example of this growing interest. Earlier theory and research tended to describe social and economic systems in some form of equilibrium. However recent thinking in human ecology, evolutionary biology, not to mention in economic and political theory has come to assign to “risk” a prominent role in predictive modeling of behavior. It turns out that risk minimalization is central to the understanding of individual strategies and numerous social institutions. It is not simply a peripheral and transient moment in a group’s history. Anthropologists interested in forager societies have emphasized risk management strategies as a major force shaping hunting and gathering routines and structuring institutions of food sharing and territorial behavior. This book builds on some of these developments but through the analysis of quite complex pastoral and farming peoples and in populations with substantial known histories. The method of analysis depends heavily on the controlled comparisons of different populations sharing some cultural characteristics but differing in exposure to certain risks or hazards. The central questions guiding this approach are: 1) How are hazards generated through environmental variation and degradation, through increasing internal stratification, violent conflicts and marginalization? 2) How do these hazards result in damages to single households or to individual actors and how do these costs vary within one society? 3) How are hazards perceived by the people affected? 4) How do actors of different wealth, social status, age and gender try to minimize risks by delimiting the effect of damages during an on-going crisis and what kind of institutionalized measures do they design to insure themselves against hazards, preventing their occurrence or limiting their effects? 5) How is risk minimization affected by cultural innovation and how can the importance of the quest for enhanced security as a driving force of cultural evolution be estimated? [Review/Spinger]


Bollig, M. and Österle. 2007. ”We turned our enemies into baboons’: warfare, ritual and pastoral identity among the Pokot of Northern Kenya’. In A. Pao, M. Bollig and M. Böck (eds.) The Practice of war: production, reproduction and communication of armed violence. London: Berghahn, pp. 23-52. [Google Books Preview]

No abstract/review available yet.


Bollig, M. and Österle. 2008. ‘Changing Communal Land Tenure in an East African Pastoral System: Institutions and Socio-Economic Transformations among the Pokot of NW Kenya’. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 133: 301-322.

No abstract/review available yet.


Conant, F.P. 1965. ‘Korok: a variable unit of physical and social space among the Pokot of East Africa. American Anthropologist 67: 429-434. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Conant, F.P. 1966. ‘The external coherence of Pokot ritual behaviour’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 251: 505-519. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Conant, F.P. 1974. ‘Frustration, marriage alternatives and subsistence risks among the Pokot of East Africa: impressions of co-variance’. Anthropological Quarterly 47: 314-327. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Davies, M. 2008. ‘An applied archaeological and anthropological study of intensive agriculture in the northern Cherangani Hills, Kenya. Unpublished PhD Dissertation. Oxford: University of Oxford.

At its most basic this thesis is a narrative history of change and continuity of agricultural practice among the Pokot of the northern Cherangani Hills, Kenya. However, it aims to be a more than this. In the first instance, it is an attempt to demonstrate the implementation of an interdisciplinary and diachronic (particularly archaeological) approach to the study of indigenous agronomies. In the second instance, it argues for the benefits of such an approach to the creation of a rigorous pathway to developing sustainable livelihoods and reliable food production in semi-arid regions of Eastern Africa. In particular, it picks up on development narratives that espouse the virtues of indigenous agricultural practices without fully understanding their long-term dynamics. Such narratives see ‘indigenous knowledge/practice’ as a paradigm for sustainable development yet rarely demonstrate their supposed ‘sustainability’, hence the utility of an approach focused on the longue durée. Through a combination of ethnographic, ethnohistorical and archaeological techniques, this study explores the intensification and expansion of Pokot agriculture from its origins in a series of small agro-pastoral settlements in the north of the Wei wei Valley (Northern Cherangani Hills, Kenya) some 300-350 years ago up to the present-day. This analysis shows Pokot agriculture to be temporally and spatially fluid. It demonstrates that processes of agricultural expansion and intensification occur in tandem and situates them within the context of the Pokot system of land-tenure. Moreover, it argues that a restrictive system of land-tenure coupled with demands on household production and minor degradation lead to pressures on land and the decision to intensify production and/or a move to cultivate new tracts of land. It also demonstrates that Pokot agricultural production has remained high and that periods of climatic deterioration seem actually to have presented opportunities (rather than constraints) that further encouraged increased production. However, I also suggest that in some cases a focus on short-term production has resulted in the degradation of soils that, when combined with the pressures stemming from land-tenure, leads to the abandonment of areas of formerly cultivated land. Therefore, while production has remained high, this has occurred not through the inherent „sustainability‟ of Pokot farming practices, but rather from the ability of Pokot agriculture to shift across the landscape. These general processes have been continuous over the last 300 years; they act to shape the development of Pokot agriculture today and will likely continue to do so in the near future. With these data in hand the concluding part of this study draws out a series of suggestions for the future of Pokot agriculture that should be of interest to both academics and development practitioners. [Abstract]


Davies, M. 2008. ‘A childish culture? Shared understandings, agency and intervention: an anthropological study of street children in northwest Kenya. Childhood 15: 309-330. [subscription required]

Street children in Makutano, northwest Kenya, form strong, stable social groups. Group activity functions through a well-defined structure involving leadership and close personal and economic relationships. This article shows how group solidarity is maintained through the sharing of a common subculture of spatial understandings, games, activities, dress, language and bodily actions. Through the group, the children experience a quality of life that negates the validity of common interventionist strategies. Moreover, given their high levels of competency, policies for working with these street children should be based on dialogue and should act to empower them through expanding the choices available to them. [Abstract]


Davies, M. 2008. ‘The irrigation system of the Pokot, northwest Kenya’. Azania 43: 50-76. [subscription required]

Archaeological survey in the Wei wei Valley, West Pokot District, Kenya was undertaken between January 2006 and April 2007 with the aim of assessing the history and development of the indigenous, precolonial, irrigation system of the agricultural Pokot and its associated settlement pattern. Fifty-nine contemporary and thirteen abandoned irrigation furrows were mapped with GPS and oral data collected concerning their construction, management and history. Alongside this, thirteen transect surveys recording both contemporary and abandoned settlements were conducted to assess the history of the settlement pattern associated with the irrigation system. This was followed by a series of text excavations aimed at placing the settlement chronology on a more absolute footing. This paper presents the outline results of research into the irrigation system, including an assessment of its chronology of construction based on oral histories and absolute dates. Such research is imperative for better understanding the long-term nature of indigenous agronomies and developing more sustainable approaches to East African systems of production. [Abstract]


Davies, M. 2009. ‘Wittfogel’s dilemma: heterarchy and ethnographic approaches to irrigation management in Eastern Africa and Mesopotamia’. World Archaeology 41: 16-35. [subscription required]

Both ethnographic and archaeological studies have been used to critique Wittfogel’s hydraulic theory. These, however, often present data that are contradictory and in need of reformulation. In particular, while ethnographic studies emphasize the management of irrigation in the absence of both socio-political hierarchies and marked social stratification, archaeologists continue to see irrigation agriculture as a key influence on the development of personal accumulation and increased social stratification. Through two East African ethnographic case studies, this paper addresses the mechanisms through which irrigation agriculture might contribute to increased social stratification and cautions against the making of simplistic assumptions. I argue that both ethnographic and archaeological lines of critique have resulted in a hasty rejection of the role played by irrigation management in the formation of loci of authority in early complex societies. [Abstract]


Davies, M. 2010. ‘A view from the east: an interdisciplinary ‘historical ecology’ approach to a contemporary agricultural landscape in Northwest Kenya’. African Studies 69: 279-297. [subscription required]

This article draws on the author’s own research into an agricultural landscape in Pokot, north-west Kenya, to suggest new directions for interdisciplinary historical and archaeological research in southern Africa. In particular the author identifies a landscape-based historical ecology approach as potentially useful and demonstrates its application with reference to the Pokot study. [Abstract]


Davies, M. 2010. ‘The archaeology of the Cherangani Hills’. Nyame Akuma 66: 16-24. [PDF]

The archaeology of the Cherangani Hills, Northwest Kenya, is poorly known despite its strategically important location given current models of Kalenjin history and the spread of food production into East Africa. This paper reports on previous archaeological research in the region and outlines the results of the authors first season of field work. New insights into the precolonial irrigation systems of the Pokot are discussed and the discovery of a number of rock shelters with significant archaeological potential is reported. [Abstract]


de Vries, K. 2007. ‘Identity strategies of the agro-pastoral Pokot’. Unpublished Master’s Dissertation. Amersterdam: University of Amsterdam. [PDF]

No abstract/review available yet.


Dietz, T. 1987. ‘Pastoralists in dire straits: Survival strategies and external interventions in a semi-arid region at the Kenya/Uganda border: Western Pokot, 1900-1986’. Amsterdam: Nederlandse Geografische Studies 49, Instituut vor Sociale Geografie, Universiteit van Amsterdam.

This study began as part of the Arid and Semi Arid Lands development programme in the western part of Kenya’s West Pokot District. It charts, in considerable detail, the impact of drought, warfare and other social dislocations brought about by ‘external interventions’ in this remote and predominantly pastoralist area since the late 1970s. The value of the book lies in the raw data it presents, especially the case studies, which vividly demonstrate the manner in which pastoralists have responded to the loss of their livestock by increased cultivation, gold panning, and wage labour. However, the historical sections of the book are scant in detail and highly selective in their scope. Readers may also be surprised that the author advocates ‘population density models’ as the means toward maintaining ‘viable’ pastoralism in West Pokot, despite the considerable evidence in the historical record that this is unlikely to work. Despite the lingering sense that the author may be seeking to reinvent the wheel in his analysis, the book remains a welcome addition to the scant literature available on West Pokot, and contributes another to the growing body of work on ‘pastoralists in crisis’. [Book Notes: African Affairs 88: 461-2]


Dietz, T. 1993. ‘The state, the market and the decline of pastoralism: challenging some myths, with evidence from Western Pokot in Kenya/Uganda‘. In J. Markakis (ed.) Conflict and the decline of pastoralism in the Horn of Africa. London: Macmillan, pp. 83-99.

No abstract/review available yet.


Dietz, T. 2011. ‘Participatory evaluation of development interventions in a vulnerable African environment’. In R.E. Kasperson and M. Berberian (eds.) Integrating science and policy: Vulnerability and resistance in global environmental change. London: Earthscan, pp. 269-290 [PDF]

No abstract/review available yet.


Edgerton, R.B. 1964. ‘Pokot intersexuality: an East African example of the resolution of sexual incongruity’. American Anthropologist 66: 1288-1299. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Edgerton, R.B. and Conant, F.P. 1964. ‘Kilapat: the “shaming party” among the Pokot of East Africa’. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 20: 404-418. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Ettyang, G. 1999. ‘A community-based health intervention programme in pastoral and agricultural Pokot communities in Western Kenya’. Acta Paediatrica 88: 41-42. [subscription required]

Multiple micronutrient deficiencies in the perinatal phase are associated with poor child growth and functional impairment. For the pastoral child there is additional risk due to lifestyle and isolation from healthcare. Successful improvement in the child-rearing practices and maternal vitamin A and iron status requires community-based interventions that are sustainable. It is therefore recommended that for pastoral communities participatory techniques that identify and mobilize community resources should be used in the implementation of intervention programes. [Abstract]


Hasthorpe, E. 1983. ‘A study of Pokot songs’. Unpublished PhD Dissertation. London: School of Oriental and African Studies.

No abstract/review available yet.


Jónsson, K. 2007. Pokot masculinity: the role of rituals in forming men. Reykjavík: University of Iceland.

How is masculinity formed and transmitted between generations among the Pokot people in Kenya, and what are the most important male values? The author, Kjartan Jonsson lived and worked among the Pokot people for more than 11 years as a pastor and researched their life and religion, especially the rituals men go through from birth to death. The initiation rituals are the most important, particularly circumcision, as the initiates stay in special circumcision camps for up to three and a half months with mature men who teach them how men should live and the values of the Pokot male society. Rituals often reflect the importance of cattle in the life of the Pokot people, as cattle are the chief form of wealth and also serve as ritual sacrifices. A rich man can afford to have many wives and children, who serve as an important labour force tending to the man’s wealth. All this gives him power and respect in society. Pokot men finally have one goal: to prolong their lives as ancestral spirits, which is only possible if they have sons who provide them with progeny, for which they become guardian spirits. The author’s material on the Pokot people is put into the context of African traditional religion and theories of anthropology and science of religions about rituals. [Abstract]


Kitalyi, A., Musili, A., Suazo, J. and Ogutu, F. 1999. Enclosures to protect and conserve: for better livelihood of the West Pokot community. RELMA Technical Pamphlet 2. Nairobi: Regional Land Management Unit. [PDF]

Enclosures to protect and conserve is a field guide for frontline extension staff and development agents working with pastoral or agropastoral communities to improve their land resources. The content is based on the RELMA Technical Report No. 22, We work together – land rehabilitation and household dynamics in Chepareria Division, West Pokot District, Kenya. The key to land recovery in West Pokot and similar communities has been to demarcate and secure individual tenure of farm property. Once this is achieved, owners may choose to fence portions of their land for controlling the grazing and improving the plant cover. This guide provides useful information about six grasses and six agroforestry trees one should include in any effort to re-vegetate degraded rangeland. [Review/RELMA]


Kurita, K. 1982. ‘A market on boundary: the economic activities of the Pokot and that Marakwet in Kenya’. African Studies Monographs Supp. 1: 71-103 [PDF]

The market activities of three peoples–the Pastoral Pokot, the Agricultural Pokot, and the Marakwet–were observed at Chesegon Village, western Kenya. This village is located on the territorial boundary of the Pokot and the Marakwet, and sandwiched between mountains and dry plains. This location allows easy exchange of each people’s particular products, because producers need only transport their goods short distances. It is not food staples but rather supplementary food, meat, and handicrafts that characterize the market. There is comparatively Iittle external trade. The market is also significant as a place to obtain cash and to exchange information. I present the background of their market activities (the natural environment, modes of livelihood, intertribal relations, etc.), the market activities in relation to material culture and to the family budget, economic activities outside the monetary spheres, and discuss characteristics of the economic activities around Chesegon, the function of the market and shops, and the location of the market. [Abstract]


Kurita, K. 1983. ‘Material culture of the Pokot in Kenya: with special reference to circulation of articles’. African Studies Monographs 3: 87-104 [PDF]

This paper presents the report on the circulation of material culture and foodstuff among the Pokot people in western Kenya. More than half the articles of the families studied are made by the family members, while about 40% are produced outside Chesegon. the study area. Metal and cloth made articles make up most of what are obtained at market, shops or outside Chesegon. More than 70% of all kinds of material culture can remain in good condition for more than ten years, though more than 80% of all articles are actually renewed within ten years. Material culture of the Pokot is composed of many quickly rotating articles and a few durable articles. [Abstract]


Marinda, P. 2006. Effects of gender inequality in resource ownership and access on household welfare and food security in Kenya: a case study of West Pokot District. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

This volume has one broad objective: to assess gender-based inequalities with respect to access to and control of land, financial and human capital and how these factors affect household welfare, and food security in Kenya. It gives an insight into the negative effects of gender inequality in resource ownership and access that manifest themselves at the micro level and that can have significant negative impacts at the macro level. The study was conducted in West Pokot, a rural district that lies in the North West of Kenya. The quantitative analysis deals with a wide range of farm household dynamics ranging from returns to farm and non farm activities, technical efficiency analysis in crop production in male and female managed farms, determinants of food security as well as nutrition and health status of children. Female headed households were much more constrained in their access to land, education and income, which showed a significant negative impact on their livelihood and food security. The research concludes that access to land, human capital and finances have an impact on the overall household wellbeing and food security. [Abstract]


Meyerhoff, E. 1982. ‘The socio-economic and ritual roles of Pokot women’. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

No abstract/review available yet.


Nangula, A.K. 2009. Food security and coping mechanisms in Kenya’s marginal areas: the case of West Pokot, Kenya, 1920-1995. Leiden: African Studies Centre. [PDF]

The major focus of the book is on food security and coping mechanisms in an arid environment; a case of West Pokot in Northwest Kenya. The area suffers from livestock and crop diseases; human and cattle raids between the Pokot and their neighbors; has no major industries or developed roads; and relies on relief food during famines. This well researched study will benefit readers and policy makers to comprehend that: sound policies and actions at national and local levels are needed to tackle droughts and famines; relief food is not a solution to food insecurity; and if Kenya cannot feed its citizens, sustainable development will continue to elude the nation. – Anne Kisaka Nangulu is currently Dean, and Associate Professor of History, in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Moi University, Kenya. She received Bachelors and Masters Degrees in History at the University of Nairobi, Kenya; and her Doctorate in History from West Virginia University, USA. She has received scholarly awards/scholarships; and authored several book chapters and articles in scholarly journals on the History of Kenya and Africa. Her research has mainly focused on indigenous knowledge, the state, politics, security issues, corruption, urbanization, unemployment, education, gender, poverty, HIV/AIDs, ethnic conflicts, resource allocation, search for economic justice, and food security. [Abstract]


Österle, M. 2008. ‘From cattle to goats: the transformation of East Pokot pastoralism in Kenya’. Nomadic Peoples 12: 81-91.

Once the epitome of a perceived ‘resistance to change’ among East African pastoralists, Pokot pastoralism has changed rapidly and profoundly in recent years. In less than two decades, the pastoral economy of the eastern Pokot, which constitutes the focus of this contribution, transformed from specialized, highly mobile and subsistence-oriented cattle herding to largely sedentary and marketoriented keeping of small stock. The transformation process is embedded in a general trend towards economic diversification, sedentarization and social stratification. The article approaches the transformation of East Pokot pastoralism from a diachronic perspective and makes use of longitudinal data sets collected during several periods of long-term and short-term research between 1987 and 2005. [Abstract]


Peristiany, J.G. 1951. ‘The age-set system of the pastoral Pokot: the Sapana initiation ceremony’. Africa 21: 188-206. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Peristiany, J.G. 1951. ‘The age-set system of the pastoral Pokot: mechanism, function and post-Sapana ceremonies’. Africa 21: 279-302 [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Peristiany, J.G. 1954. ‘Pokot sanctions and structure’. Africa 24: 17-25. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Peristiany, J.G. 1975. ‘The ideal and the actual: the role of prophets in the Pokot political system’. In J.H.M. Beattie and R.G. Lienhardt (eds.) Studies in Social Anthropology: Eassays in Memory of E.E. Evans-Pritchard by His Former Oxford Colleagues. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 167-212.

No abstract/review available yet.


Pike, I., Straight, B., Oesterle, M., Hilton, C. and Lanyasunya, A. 2010. ‘Documenting the health consequences of endemic warfare in three pastoralist communities of northern Kenya: A conceptual framework’. Social Science and Medicine 70: 45-52. [subscription required]

Violent conflict represents the third most important source of mortality around the world, yet violence-related mortality remains profoundly undercounted (Krug, Dahlberg, Mercy, Zwi, & Lozano, 2002). As a step toward documenting the consequences of even the “smallest wars” we offer a conceptual framework for a recently initiated project that comparatively examines the direct and indirect consequences of intercommunity violence among Pokot, Samburu, and Turkana herding communities of Northern Kenya. While a substantial body of work has accumulated on the social responses to this violence very little is known about the differential impacts on community health. Based on our cumulative ethnographic experience in the area, we offer a conceptual framework that merges a context-sensitive ethnographic approach with a comparative epidemiological one centered on documenting the lived experience of violence and inequality. In this paper, we provide evidence for the importance of a contextualized approach detailing how social environments that include chronic episodes of violence produce variations in health. We do so by presenting the results of previous work to highlight what is known and follow this by identifying what remains to be understood about how violence, inequality, and health interact in these communities. While much is known about the importance of access to livestock herds for health, nutrition, and child growth in this difficult physical environment, far less is known about how the social responses to violence interact with access to herds to create new patterns of nutrition and health. With respect to pastoralists, additional areas that remain only nominally understood include age-specific mortality patterns, reproductive health, and psychosocial/mental health, topics that we view as central to the current study. In sum, we suggest that health offers one of the most useful tools for examining the costs of violence by creating opportunities for advocacy. [Abstract]


Robbins, P. 2010. Red-spotted ox: a Pokot life. Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. [PDF]

Red Spotted Ox is the fascinating autobiography of an East African pastoralist, as told to Pat Robbins in the early 1970s. Domonguria lived near the Kenya – Uganda border during a time of rapid cultural change. In this book, he describes Pokot traditions and history, while also recounting his fights with lions and enemies, initiation rites, raids, scandals, romances, sorcery and celebrations. Through one man’s unique perspective, his autobiography documents a rich cultural heritage – its rituals, songs, legends, values, and it challenges to survive. [Review/IWGIA]


Saarinen, E. 2008. ‘Without the cut: alternative rituals for female circumcision in Kenya’. Unpublished Master’s Dissertation. Helsinki: University of Helsinki.

The study examines alternative rites of passage (ARPs) which have been created to replace traditional initiation rituals (i.e. female circumcision) in Kenya. The first alternative ritual was arranged by a women’s group called the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization in 1996, and since then many other organisations have mimicked them. The central question of this thesis is whether ARPs can be regarded as rites of passage. The question is answered by examining data that compares alternative rituals with traditional initiation rituals. Fieldwork for the study was carried out in Western Kenya in two development projects of a Christian relief and development organisation called World Vision. Most of the material was gathered in a Pokot community in West Pokot District. The main part of the data consists of interviews with project workers and local people, ethnographic observation of rituals, and project documents. The ethnographic material was gathered during a two month period between October and December in 2004. Theoretically, the study relies on anthropological discussion of rituals and what makes them effective. The main theoretical sources consist of classics such as works of Arnold van Gennep, Victor Turner, and Audrey Richards, and later writings on rituals by such anthropologists as Gilbert Lewis, Maurice Bloch, and Catherine Bell. The Pokot girls’ initiation ritual has been researched by Elizabeth L. Meyerhoff. The study shows that the objectives of ARPs and traditional initiation rituals are contrary. While the traditional ritual aims at preparing a girl for her new role as a wife and mother, the ARP aims at preventing her from stepping into this role too early. Several aspects demonstrated that ARPs were not understood as a rite of passage by the community. There were, for instance, girls who had participated in the ARP several times. However, the new ritual was still a very popular event and many community members said it supported the work against female circumcisions. This study shows how difficult it is to replace an established ritual with a newly transplanted one, since rituals are interwoven into the whole society and ways of living. Initiation rituals, arranged on the threshold between childhood and adulthood, are particularly difficult to replace, since they are so closely connected to marriage, the foundation of these societies. Marriageability of uncircumcised women, communality of the traditional ritual and its importance as a channel of reciprocity remain issues which have to be addressed in the eradication efforts of female circumcision. [Abstract]


Schneider, H.K. 1953. ‘The Pakot (Suk) of Kenya with special reference to the role of livestock in their subsistence economy’. Unpublished PhD Dissertation. Chicago: Northwestern University.

No abstract/review available yet.


Schneider, H.K. 1956. ‘The interpretation of Pakot visual art’. Man 56: 103-106. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Schneider, H.K. 1957. ‘The subsistence role of cattle among the Pakot and in East Africa. American Anthropologist 59: 278-300. [subsciption required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Schneider, H.K. 1967. ‘Pokot Folktales, Humor, and Values’. Journal of the Folklore Institute 4: 265-318. [subscription required]

No abstract/review available yet.


Wanjala, J., Mbagaya, G. and Rotich, J. 2012. Under nutrition in pre-school children of West Pokot, Kenya: prevalence and factors associated with undernutrition in children aged 2-5 years living In West Pokot, Kenya. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing.

Undernutrition in pre-school children of West Pokot,Kenya is a book that tries to assess the nutritional status of children aged 2-5 years. This cross sectional comparative study had equal number of pre-school children from the pastoral and farming communities of West Pokot.Anthropometric measurements of weight, height and MUAC were used to assess the nutritional status of pre-school children. Dietary data was collected using the 24 hour dietary recall. Hellen Keller Food frequency questionnaire was used to assess intake of Vitamin A rich foods. Stunting,underweight and wasting were found to be high in both communities. Pastoral and farming communities were found to be food insecure at a certain time of the year. The months the communities experienced food shortage was found to be a strong predictor of malnutrition in pastoral and farming communities of West Pokot,Kenya. This study recommended that there is need to address nutrition education by the government of Kenya Ministries and relevant non-governmental organizations. [Abstract]