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ICR/WRH Host Chinese Delegation, Kautokeino
Written by Philip Burgess   
Saturday, 04 October 2008 01:00
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china-deleg2The Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) and the International  Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) hosted a visiting delegation (Weds October 1 – Sat Oct 3) from China  led by Professor Hao Shiyuan, of the Chinese Academy of Social  Sciences. He was accompanied by four researchers and academics from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, who all  specialized in Tibet, with a focus on Tibetan pastoralism. Their other research fields included Chinese minorities, resettlement policies, cultural history and Tibetan nationalism.


Accompanying the group were Åshild Kolås and Tashi Nyima of the Peace  Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO). This was a follow up meeting in order that links and cooperation between the WRH and ICR could be maintained and enhanced. It was also an opportunity for WRH to share their experiences of their own trip to China earlier this year (see story here).



A seminar
was held on Wednesday (Oct 1) where there were presentations by Johan Mathis Turi (WRH), Anders Oskal  (ICR), Svein MAthiesen (EALAT), Philip Burgess (Reindeer Portal). Kolås presented her research on 'ecological migrations'(China's  resettlement policies and their impacts in Tibet and Inner Mongolia)  and Hao Shiyuan gave a presentation on Evenki reindeer husbandry  in China.

Dr. Hao Shiyuan
has researched reindeer husbandry in China for many years and also has worked in Sweden in association with Hugh Beach. He outlined how reindeer herding is considered to be a backward profession in China and that this has fed in to the official Chinese resettlement program which has not been a success with many reindeer herders. There has been little attention to reindeer husbandry in China, doubtless because of the small numbers involved – it engages around 230 people, 62 households and approximately 700 reindeer.

Historically, large scale reindeer husbandry has not existed in  China, with 1200 being the largest number recorded according to the vistors. However, Dr. Hao Shiyuan explained that there are written records of reindeer husbandry that go back as far as the 7th century BC. Currently there are extensive plans to develop a tourist infrastructure around Evenki reindeer husbandry in China.

After a break, there were in depth discussion as to the issues faced by  reindeer herders in Norway in particular, and the complexity of the Sami siida system and the cumulative impacts of  legislative changes over that last  century that have gradually restricted the autonomy of Sami reindeer  husbandry enacting changes to traditional Sami reindeer husbandry that may be irreversible according to Turi and Oskal. Turi and Oskal also spoke of the dangers of tourism as the benefits do not always remain with reindeer herders and it can be associated with a loss of control and pastures. Johan Mathis Turi commented that he was happy to see that private ownership of reindeer was well established in China.


The delegation
also took time to visit Galdu, the Sami University College, and spent an evening in a lavvu where stories and handicrafts were shared with the visitors.

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, ICR Activities, PRIO
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