Political Pasture : A Governmentality Analysis of Community-Based Pasture Management in Kyrgyzstan

Abstract: This thesis seeks to understand the development and implementation of the community-based pasture management policy in Kyrgyzstan, which transferred the responsibility for pasture-use planning from state administrative organs to local community-based organizations.Using document analysis, this thesis contextualizes the emergence and evolution of the policy’s key premises, including the advantages of community-based management compared to state-centered management. Using interviews and observations, this thesis draws out individual experiences of herders, forestry service officials and the members of pasture committees with the implementation of the policy in the Kadamzhai district of Kyrgyzstan.Findings suggest that historical continuities in pasture governance play an important role in the functioning of such policies. On the national level, the reliance of the state on the Soviet administrative and territorial division has reinforced pasture-use fragmentation, where different institutional actors struggle for authority over pastures. These struggles can be observed on the local level, where the implementation of policy is often challenged by forestry officials believing in the advantages of the Soviet fortress conservation, rather than community-based management.Second, the local outcomes of policy depend on the compliant or resistant subject positions of individuals involved in pasture use. Policy implementation succeeded in the recruitment of compliant pasture committee chairmen, who claim to be interested in bringing good to the communities through steering the use of pastures. However, the procedures for the establishment of committees contributed to their top-down functioning, where herders often consider the committees as a state agency and find different strategies to avoid their imposed payments.