The Effects of Development of the Maasai

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Richard Albares, Sociology


The Maasai are well known pastoralists from East Africa who have lived a long and proud past; however, their unique way of life is diminishing. This paper seeks to examine two factors that currently threaten traditional Maasai culture: the loss of herding land due to development strategies stemming from “the tragedy of the commons” and their cultural practices concerning women and girls, which are under attack from national governments and the international community. This review lays out traditional Maasai customs regarding land management and cattle herding and female circumcision and marriages, what factors threaten these practices and how Maasai culture has been affected by these changes, and finally some thoughts for the future.

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