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Active since the 1970s, the Commission on Nomadic Peoples is part of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) and is a leading academic organization working with mobile peoples, including indigenous, traditional, nomadic, and tribal peoples.

Who we are

The Commission on Nomadic Peoples is part of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES). This commission is one of a number of academic working groups of the Union which collaborates with a broad, international range of researchers on nomadic peoples. The Commission has always aspired to be inclusive – drawing in as many interested parties as possible – researchers, practitioners, government and non-government officials, and crossing language and cultural divides.

Collecting wool from herder households in Bayanhongor province, Mongolia. July 2023. Photo by Ariell Ahearn.

Yaks grazing in Northern Bayanhongor province, Mongolia. June 2023. Photo by Ariell Ahearn.

Nomadic Peoples Journal

Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples – scholars, researchers, planners, and project administrators.


The Commission on Nomadic Peoples was established in 1977 through the initiative of Philip Salzman, who served as the Chair along with John Galaty until 1993. The first formal meeting took place in London with funding from the Ford Foundation. It was agreed at the time that the Commission should register at the IUAES and hold a board meeting every five years at the IUAES World Congress.

In the first years of the Commission, Salzman sent out a newsletter called the Bulletin, which eventually became the Journal of Nomadic Peoples. At first, the journal was published from Salzman’s office at McGill University, where he would print and send copies to academics in Africa, Asia and the USSR. Michael Casimir and Aparna Rao were elected as Co-Chairs of the Commission in 1994, following the short tenure of Anders Hjort. They set out to increase cooperation with international, national and regional organisations working to improve the status of nomadic peoples and conduct collaborative, interdisciplinary research.

In 1998, Dawn Chatty was elected as the Chair of the Commission at the IUAES Congress in Williamsburg and held the position for 15 years. Chatty continued to develop the profile of the journal of Nomadic Peoples through an award from the Ford Foundation, which supported three special issues by local scholars based in China, India and East Africa. Also, under Chatty’s leadership, the Dana Declaration on Mobile Peoples and Conservation was initiated during a meeting in Wadi Dana, Jordan.  Eliot Fratkin was elected  Chair of the Commission during the World Congress in Manchester in 2013 and the inaugural prize for the Best Student Essay was awarded.

In 2014, the journal of Nomadic Peoples changed publishers from Berghahn to the White Horse Press with Saverio Kratli as editor. The Commission and the journal continued to flourish and grow, leading it to receive a Journal Impact Factor from Clarivate in 2022. Ariell Ahearn was elected as Chair of the Commission in 2018 and has helped to establish the Oxford International Desert Conference as an important venue for members of the Commission to meet and present papers. The Commission of Nomadic Peoples remains one of the most active at the IUAES Intra and World Congresses.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Professor Dawn Chatty

2018 Distinguished Service Award

Professor Philip C. Salzman

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor Jeremy Swift

2013 Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor Anatoly Khazanov

2009 Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor Walter Goldschmidt

2003 Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor I.M. Lewis

2003 Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor William Irons

2000 Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor Fredrik Barth

1998 Lifetime Achievement Award

Chair’s Reports

Philip Carl Salzman, Chair from 1978-1993

Michael Casimir and Aparna Rao, Co-Chairs from 1994-1998

Dawn Chatty, Chair from 1999-2013

Elliot Fratkin, Chair from 2014-2018

Student Prize

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Dr. Palden Tsering

2022 Best Student Essay Prize

Dr. Fred Wojnarowski

2020 Best Student Essay Prize

Dr. Greta Semplici

2019 Best Student Essay Prize

Dr. Ariell Ahearn

2018 Best Student Essay Prize


Dana Declaration on Mobile Peoples and Conservation

The Declaration is the outcome of the Dana Conference, an international meeting of social and natural scientists and NGOs that took place in Wadi Dana Nature Reserve in Jordan in early April 2002. The Declaration is an attempt to forge a new partnership between conservationists and mobile peoples in order to ensure that future conservation policies and programmes help maintain the earth’s ecosystems, species and genetic diversity while respecting the rights of indigenous and traditional communities which have been disregarded in the past.

Center for Pastoralism

The Centre for Pastoralism (CfP) works across India on collaborative programs to enhance pastoralist livelihood security, gain mainstream recognition of livestock breeds developed by pastoralists, explore ways of securing their access to grazing resources, promote research to enhance understanding of pastoral systems and undertake outreach to educate society on pastoralism and its many contributions. In advancing these goals, CfP works in close partnership with civil society, academia, government agencies and the private sector.

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS) is the oldest academic organization in the United States devoted to the study of Nepal and wider Himalayan regions.

Forest Peoples Programme

The Forest Peoples Programme is a human rights organisation working with forest peoples across the globe to secure their rights to their lands and their livelihoods.

IIED International Institute of Environment and Development

IIED is a leading research institute that publishes Haramata, a bulletin of the drylands, as well as a series of issue papers, frequently relating to pastoralists.

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

ICIMOD is an intergovernmental knowledge and learning centre that develops and shares research, information, and innovations to empower people in the eight regional member countries of the HKH – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.

International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations (IISNC)

IISNC works to build an international network for nomadic studies and host contemporary scientific and multidisciplinary research, including a focus on relevant issues including the preservation and conservation of the unique historical and cultural heritage of nomadic peoples.

International Union of Anthropological and Ethnographic Sciences (IUAES)

The IUAES is a world organization of scientists and institutions working in the fields of anthropology and ethnology, but also of interest to archaeologists and linguists, among others.

International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP)

The United Nations (UN) has declared 2026 the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.

League for Pastoral Peoples (LPP)

LPP is a research and advocacy organization for pastoralists and other small-scale livestock keepers.

Mongolia Society

The Mongolia Society is a private, non-profit, non-political organization that promotes the study of Mongolia, its history, language, and culture.

Nomads in Oman

Nomads in Oman is an online resource for the study of nomadic life in Oman developed by Professor Dawn Chatty.

Pastoralist Knowledge Hub

The Pastoralist Knowledge Hub is part of the FAO and is a forum for pastoralists, their networks and partnering organizations.

Rights and Resources Initiative

Rights and Resources Initiative is a global Coalition of over 150 organizations dedicated to advancing the forestland and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, local communities, and the women within them.

World Alliance on Mobile Indigenous People (WAMIP)

The World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous People (WAMIP) is a global alliance of nomadic peoples and communities practicing various forms of mobility as a livelihood strategy while conserving biological diversity and using natural resources in a sustainable way.