This article describes the condition and spread of one of the most mobile forms of pastoralism, transhumance, as well as factors and transition pathways that have taken place in the pastoral systems of the North Caucasus. The weakening of centralization and control over local economies, as well as the cessation of subsidies to collective and state farms in the 1990s, led to the destruction of state-regulated transhumance. At the same time, traditional institutions and local forms of social organization, such as ethnic groups, tribal alliances, and family associations, are playing an important role. This study is based on mapping of pasture use, analysis of statistical data, and interviews with shepherds, municipal authority representatives, and government officials from regional agricultural departments. It describes the factors promoting or limiting transhumance in 4 regions (Dagestan, Chechnya, North Ossetia–Alania, and Karachay–Cherkessia), including ethnicity, land tenure, the status of privatization of agricultural land, and centralization of power. Leading actors and institutions in 3 periods, pre-Revolutionary, Soviet, and post-Soviet, are considered, with a more detailed analysis of the last period right up to present times. The role of resettlement of people from the mountains to the plains in the Soviet period, which contributed to the development of transhumance in the modern period, is emphasized. Institutional hybrids are discussed, including formal state and informal (traditional and new) rules to regulate the use of pastures during the transition from the Soviet central planning system to market relations.
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