Sources of Conflict in Pastoral Lands: A Case Study in the Milan tribe in the North-West Region of Iran

Document Type : research paper


1 PhD, Scientific member of Economic, Social and Extension Research Department, West Azarbaijan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Center, AREEO, Urmia, Iran.

2 Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, Turkey.


Purpose: Sociologically, conflict is a “struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources”. Land, as a most valuable asset and a source of wealth and power, a basis for livelihood, a subject for geopolitical purposes, a matter of territorial importance, and a substance for cultural identity, is introduced as a subject of conflict in communal pastoral lands of the Milan nomadic tribe in North-west part of Iran. Three actors are recognized in the field that have conflict over the lands; the State, nomads, and peasants. The main objective of this article is to understand contradictory interaction among the actors and analyze the source and dynamics of social conflict among them. To pursue this objective, theories of conflict including Dahrendorf (1959) and the differentiated meaning system approach are adopted.
Methods: Applying the Qualitative method, six sub-tribes from Milan (located in winter pastures) and three peasantry villages (located in summer pastures) were selected as samples, and deep semi-structured interviews were conducted.
Results: According to results, it is revealed that conflicts are concentrated around economic, historical, and political incentives, but differentiated meaning systems are also the source of conflict and inconsistencies among the actors.
Conclusion: Our study showed that pastures had a variety of meanings and values for actors: for the State, pastures had political, environmental, and economic importance while for peasants, they merely had economic importance and for nomadic groups, economic, cultural (identity), and territorial factors were prime impetuses. For actors, sources of conflicts, their solutions, and reconciliation strategies are also different and in most cases, they are contradictory.


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