Kiky van Oostrum

From October to December 2004 Kiky van Oostrum effectuated a second fieldwork period in Aioun el Atrouss, a small town along the Route de l’Espoir 820 kilometres east of the capital Nouakchott. The next phase of the research will mainly include further analysis and the actual writing of the thesis.

The droughts in the seventies and eighties gave rise to mass movements of nomadic Moors in search of a better life. Many of them settled in small towns along the “Route de l’Espoir” where they face new economic opportunities and important shifts in their social hierarchy. Their hitherto dominant economy of long distance pastoralism is largely abandoned and transformed into more commercial and sedentary forms of cattle raising.

Especially social relations prove to be vital in creating a sustainable urban livelihood. They determine to a large extent access to natural resources and to economic opportunities. In Mauritania, hierarchy and patronage mark many relationships. Peoples’ position on the social ladder determines to a large extent their access to natural and economic resources. Therefore the study concentrates on the social domains in which these changes are prevailing: between   the various social categories constituting the Moorish society, especially in the form of patronage and clientelism; between individuals of different generations within families; between people having milk-relations (milk kinship is a specific form of patronage); and between men and woman in marriage. Processes of change within these relationships also have significant repercussions for economic life in town.

A. (Kiky) van Oostrum
Former PhD candidate
Room number: +31 (0)71 527 3374