Changing Responsibilities and Collective Action: Examining Early North African Pastoralism



This chapter uses the concept of an economic transition point to examine and challenge assumptions about static gender roles in pastoralist societies. The transition from a hunting-and-gathering economy to an agro-pastoralist economy would have forced North Africans to perform tasks related to both economic systems until the pastoralist way of life could be firmly established. The greater need for labor in these transitional societies would have discouraged the formation of strict gender divisions like those seen in today's pastoralist societies. The changing needs of the economy would have necessitated a flexible division of labor. To examine these changing needs, this chapter examines evidence from rock art, archaeological sites, and modern pastoralist ethnography.