TITLE: TRANSLATION, SOCIETY AND POLITICS IN TIMOR LESTE EDITED BY PAULO CASTRO SEIXAS PUBLISHER: UNIVERSIDADE FERNANDO PESSOA, 2010 --A FCT Project Book This book is an output of the project PTDC/ANT/81065/2006 “Translating culture, culture of translation. Negotiation as core heritage in Timor-Leste”. The project was supported by Fundação Para a Ciência e a Tecnologia/Foundation for Science and Technology. A EuroSEAS Panel Book This book is an output of the Panel “Translation, Culture and Politics. East-Timor still weaving across-roots” organized for the 6th Conference (Gothenburg, 2010) of the EuroSEAS, European Association for Southeast Asia Studies. --ART WORK: EDITION: UNIVERSITY FERNANDO PESSOA EDITIONS Praça 9 de abril, 349 . 4249-004 Porto - Portugal T. +351 22 507 1300 . F. +351 22 5508269 . PRINTING AND FINISHING’s: CONCEPT IMAGE, ESTÚDIO DE ARTES GRÁFICAS LDA PORTUGUESE NATIONAL LIBRARY NUMBER: 319829/10 ISBN. 978-989-643-064-1 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------All rights reserved. All reproduction or transmission in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, copy, recording or any other, without written authorisation of the editor and the publisher is illegal and subjected to judicial procedure against the infractor.

CATALOGING --TRANSLATION, SOCIETY AND POLITICS IN TIMOR-LESTE Translation, society and politics in Timor-Leste / ed. Paulo Castro Seixas. Porto : Edições Universidade Fernando Pessoa, 2010. - 200 p. ; 23 cm ISBN 978-989-643-064-1 Antropologia / Timor-Leste CDU 572(594.75)



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PAULO CASTRO SEIXAS was born in Luanda-Angola, has a PhD in Anthropology and is currently Associate Professor at the Institute of Social and Political Sciences, Technical University of Lisbon. Between the year 2000 and 2010 he coordinated two research projects on East Timor sponsored by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (POCTI/ ANT/1999/34064 e PTDC/ANT/81065/2006). Since 1999, he is also board member of the Portuguese delegation of the international NGO Doctors of the World and responsible for its projects in Timor-Leste and since 2007 he is board member of EuroSEAS – European Association for Southeast Asia Studies. Professor Seixas’ books includes Timor-Leste: The Future of the Past (Centro Nacional de Cultura, 2002 - in Portuguese and English); Timor-Leste: Viagens, Transições e Mediações (Univ Fernando Pessoa/IPAD, 2006) and, as organizer, Diversidade Cultural na Construção do Estado e da Nação em Timor-Leste (Univ Fernando Pessoa/IPAD/FCT, 2006). He was Curator of a one year Exhibition on East Timor pottery and clay figurines in the Museum of Pottery, Barcelos-Portugal and is author of five ethnographic documentaries on East Timor. Contact: LÚCIO SOUSA is a Portuguese anthropologist. He taught Portuguese in East Timor between 2000 and 2002. Since 2002 he is assistant professor at Universidade Aberta in Lisbon. His Social Anthropology PhD, held in 2010, analyses the social organization and ritual practices of a Bunak community in East Timor (with fieldwork in August 2003 and 2004 and from September 2005 to August 2006). The research was funded by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and Fundação Oriente. Between December 2008 and August 2010 he integrates the Project Translating Culture, Culture of Translation: cultural negotiation as core heritage in Timor-Leste. Contact: AONE VAN ENGELENHOVEN was born in 1962 in Halsteren, The Netherlands, from Dutch and Southwest Malukan parents. He studied comparative linguistics at Leiden University where he now lectures Southeast Asian linguistics and obtained his PhD degree in 1995 on the description of the Leti language. His main interests are diachronic and descriptive linguistic issues in East-Indonesia and East-Timor. Beside that he focuses on oral traditions and ethnopoetics in this region. He is the author of Leti, a language of Southwest Maluku, published at KITLV Press in Leiden in 2004. KELLY SILVA teaches anthropology at Universidade de Brasília/Brasil. Since 2002 she has been conducting researches about issues related to State formation and nation building in East Timor, deveploment and elites. She edited, with Daniel Simião, Timor-Leste por trás do palco: cooperação internacional e a dialética da construção do Estado (Editora UFMG, 2007). She acted as Brazilian Anthropological Association’ deputy secretary (2006-2008). DAVID HICKS was born in the United Kingdom and is currently Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University and Life Member of Clare College, University of Cambridge. His research region is Indonesia and Timor-Leste where he has carried out nearly three years of field research. Professor Hicks’ books include Tetum Ghosts and Kin (1976, 2004); Structural Analysis in Anthropology (1978); A Maternal Religion (1984); Kinship and Religion in Eastern Indonesia (1990); Cultural Anthropology (with Margaret A. Gwynne) (1994, 1996); and Ritual and Belief (editor) (1999, 2002, 2010). He is the translator of Povos de Timor, Povo de Timor: vida, aliança, mort by Henri and Maria-Olímpia Campagnolo. English translation entitled: Peoples of Timor, People of Timor: Life, Alliance, Death (1993). Lisbon: Fundação Oriente.Instituto de Investigações Cientifica Tropical. Professor Hicks’ papers have appeared in the American Anthropologist, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and the Bijdragen tot de Taal-, land- en Volkenkunde. Contact: DANIEL S. SIMIÃO, PhD in social anthropology, is associate professor at the Department of Anthropology, University of Brasilia, Brazil. He is doing research on East Timor since 2002, focusing mainly on gender and justice. He is co-editor, with Kelly Silva, of the book Timor-Leste por Trás do Palco, published in Brazil (Editora UFMG, 2007) and



has published several articles on the building of the justice systems and domestic violence in East Timor. He is also researcher of the National Institute for Comparative Studies in Conflict Resolution (INCT/InEAC), funded by the Brazilian Agency for Scientific Development (CNPq). Contact: DIONÍSIO BABO SOARES holds a PhD in Anthropology by the ANU Australian National University and has also a Degree in Constitutional Law from Udayana University in Bali, Indonesia. Babo Soares is currently a professor at the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the Universidade da Paz, and at the Facullty of Social Sciences of the University of Timor-Leste (UNTL). Together with Prof Jim Fox, he co-authored the book, Out of the Ashes: East Timor: Destruction and Reconstruction (Adelaide, 2000) and Constitutional Writing and Elections in East Timor (ANU, 2003). He is also authored several articles and chapters published in books published in Indonesia, Australia and TimorLeste. Currently Babo Soares work as a legal adviser to the Vice Prime Minister for Social Affairs to Timor-Leste. RUI GRAÇA FEIJÓ holds a D.Phil from Oxford University (1984). He was Assistant Professor at National University of Timor-Leste, the Faculty of Economics and Management at the Portuguese Catholic University and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Porto, where he lectured the courses on Political Science. He was co-organizer of several Portuguese and Lusophone Workshops on History, Politics and Society at Oxford University (1998-2006). He published several works in the social sciences, including Liberalism and Social Transformation (1992) and TimorLeste: Paisagem Tropical com Gente Dentro (2006). He held political offices in Portugal, such as Deputy of the Mayor of Porto (1994-1998) and Chairman of the Vinho Verde Regulating Board, CVRVV (1998-2000). Recently he was contracted by UNMISET / UNOTIL as Advisor to the President of the Republic, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao (2004-2005) and was later an electoral observer with the CPLP team (2007). He lives in Porto with his two daughters, and can be contacted at NUNO CANAS MENDES was born in Lisbon, 14th July 1969. He is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Social and Political Sciences, Technical University of Lisbon. He is also a Research Fellow at the Orient Institute and head of the research project “State-building/state-failure in International Relations: analysis of the East Timor case”, sponsored by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (PTDC/CPO/71659/2006). He published several books on East Timor, namely: A ‘multidimensionalidade’ da construção identitária em Timor-Leste, Lisboa: ISCSP, 2005; Como nasceu Timor-Leste, Lisboa: CEPESA, 2005; (with Armando Marques Guedes) Ensaios sobre nacionalismos em Timor Leste, Lisboa: MNE, 2006; (with Michael Leach e tal.) Hatene Kona ba/Compreender/Understanding/Mengerti Timor-Leste, Timor-Leste Studies Association, 2010.



PAULO CASTRO SEIXAS This book presents some results of the proposal that was developed in 2006 and aims to be, in part, a progress report of the research undertaken since then. The research conducted by the team was an interdisciplinary attempt to bridge research paths as they were triggered and elaborated by the individual team members. It ran along the constructs of ‘cultural translation’ and ‘culture as translation’, a theme that has interested me since the beginning of my research in Timor-Leste (Seixas, 2006c; 2007). To conceive culture as translation and the world as cultures in continuous translation is, probably, the only way of overcoming two human curses: imperialism and the continuous wars as a result of cultural clashes. The paradigm of Culture as Translation rejects the unilateral translation of the Other and changes it into a dialogue (dialogy)1, the very root of the paradigm. It implies a break away from culture to internal and external interpretation. More than that, as soon as one assumes culture as the dynamics of translation, it points at the quest of cultural elements and complexities that reflect this break. I conceive this as the core of Human Culture. Culture as Translation is also a possible action to the need for a vigorous struggle for a Politics of Peace and Hope, in a new geopolitics of Dialogue, and Alliance of Cultures and Civilizations. Therefore, Social Sciences (and particularly Anthropology and Sociology) have a new locus, which is neither in the analysis of mere differences nor in the study of similarities but rather in the relativity of translation. In other words, Social Sciences are meant to describe the problems of conviviality as structure and cultural translation as processes in societies and cultures.

In general terms, five disciplinary traditions may be presented for the comprehension of the concept of cultural translation. These five traditions are the Anthropological, the Cultural Studies, the Translations Studies, the Cognitive Studies and, finally, a tradition of Culture as Translation. In a didactic, although not in a complete systematic way, the several branches in each tradition are also presented. The anthropological tradition where translation is a core element in the analysis of other cultures, features four perspectives. The first approach focused on the ‘Modes of Thought’ (from Lienhardt, 1954 to Horton and Finnegan, 1973 and 1995). Literature on cultural relations, as the works of Edward T. Hall and Samuel Huntington, are influenced by that
1 Bakhtine says: “Au-delà des perspectives de la philosophie du langage, de la linguistique et de la stylistique fondée sur elle, demeurent quasiment inexplorés les phénomènes spécifiques du discours, déterminés par son reorientation dialogique parmi des discours <<étrangers>>, à l’intérieur d’un même langage (dialogisation traditionnelle), parmi d’autres <<langages sociaux>>, au sein d’une même langue nationale, enfim au sein d’autres langues nationales, à l’intérieur d’une même culture, d’un même horizon socio-idéologique“ (Bakhtine, 1978 : 99)



perspective. The second approach, in the tradition of the Oxford School of Anthropology, identified the ‘Translation of Cultures’ and the ‘problem of translation’ as the core business of anthropology (Beattie, 1964). Several other authors (Gellner, 1970; Needham, 1972; Leach, 1973) stressed the centrality of translation that in the end led to the interpretative perspective where the anthropologist is an interpreter and writer of cultures and anthropology is interpretation.Yet another perspective, with Van Wouden, Dumézil, Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Barthes and Dan Sperber as its main representatives, focused on the analysis of ‘series’, ‘structures’ or an ‘epidemiology of ideas’. Levy-Strauss’ concept of ‘transformation’ is of particular relevance to our inquiry. Finally, a last perspective was developed by the Writing Cultures Movement that critized a realistic ethnographic representation. Here, the ‘Other’ can never be encountered but rather is always created. In its attempt to create an ethnographic representation that could express in a better way the interpretative arena in the field, the Writing Cultures movement proposed experimental methodologies, such as the multi-sited ethnography of George Marcus and the Dialogic Anthropology, developed by Michael Tausig (for instance, Asad, and, in Portuguese, Seixas, 1996 and recently Duarte, 2008). This experimentalism, with translation as a core problem, paved the way to a Hypermedia Anthropology (Seixas, 2008b) and other more recent proposals. Cultural Studies, initiated by Paul Willis and Raymond William, are also an important marker in the field of cultural translation and of culture as translation. Cultural Studies contributed to the problem of translation from at least four perspectives that related to language, cultural representations, social practices and power. A first perspective focused on popular culture and its relation with hegemonic culture. This emphasis on the importance of popular culture enabled Stuart Hall to define ‘popular’ as a disputed field between the production of a particular social group on one side and the appropriation/consumption by the masses on the other side. The inequality of class cultures was the basis of several research projects, particularly in the education field (for instance the works of Bernstein and Bourdieu). A second perspective focused on Post-Colonial Studies as for example by Said, Fanon, Paul Gilroy, James Scott, Louise Pratt, Homi Bhabha and others. They elaborated on the complex relationship between the dominators and the dominated that is characterized by ‘contact zones’, hybridism, mimicry, and so forth. A third perspective emerged from the field of women studies and was followed by gender studies as exemplified by Elizabeth Badinter, Judith Butler, and others. Finally, the Media Studies, and specifically the area of Reception Studies, showed the importance of the reception culture in the interpretation of the messages from the media. In sum, Cultural Studies focused on the relevance of the relation between representations and social practices. Here, power was an important factor in the discussion that framed the production and reception of the representations. At the same time it was indissolubly connected to class, the masses or individuals. In what concerns Translation Studies, these have always focused on the relevance of culture, even though it started by defining translation through the dichotomy between departure from and arriving at language. In what became known as ‘the cultural turn’ (Basnett & Lefevere, 1990), translation eventually was considered as a form of intercultural communication. However, since the 70s Translation Studies have analyzed and tried to classify the cultural elements within the translation realm. Following Albir (2004) in the branch of the Translation Studies it is possible to identify four perspectives. A first perspective focuses on translation as intercultural communication. It classifies cultural differences and how they reflect in lan-



guages and their consequences in the process of cultural transference. This is a typological perspective, which tries to classify cultural differences affecting translation. It was proposed by Nida, and then adopted by Margot, Vlakhov and Florin, Newmark, Nord and Katan (Cf. Albir, 2004). The focus on cultural transfer developed by building on these cultural differences and gave rise to several typologies and issues for consideration (Margot Hewson & Martin, Vlokhov & Florin, Hervey & Higgins and Katan). A second perspective relates to translation and ideology and focuses on the fact that “if every written process is permeable both to the contextual ideological constrains as well as the ones of the author, the re-written which translation sets is as well a reflex of these constrains” (Albir, 2004, p. 616). These perspectives were elaborated by the ‘Manipulation School’ and had Lefevere in the 80s as the main author. Other authors approached the ideological meaning of the translator’s visibility or invisibility; the issue of a politically correct translation; the need for a micro-analysis which, through a critical discourse analysis, might enlighten the ideological marks of the translated text; the need for analysis of the institutional context where a translation is received (what is translated, the support system of translation; the educational system and the reproduction of the canon; the ‘normalization’ of reception, and so forth). A third perspective relates translation to post-colonialism, in a tight interdisciplinary association with Cultural Studies. The postcolonial perspective considers the chronological post-colonial but besides sees what is colonial as a contested arena of representations and social practices that requires a critical analysis that is enhanced through what the ‘third space’ of post-colonial circumstances represent. The direct relation between translation and post-colonial studies is quite diverse (Asad, 1986; Rafael, 1993; Cheyfitz, 1991; Robinson, 1997) and criticizes translations done by ethnographers and anthropologists; the role of translation in colonialism; translation as a medium during decolonization; and so forth. One of the main concepts in what concerns the post-colonial texts is ‘hybridism’. Texts are in-between two cultures and should therefore be studied as a result of a linguistic and cultural ‘contact zone’. A last perspective relates translation to feminism. Emerging in Canada in the 80s, this perspective relates the feminist movement in general to the feminist literary critic. It was influenced by Women Studies and Gender Studies within the field of Cultural Studies. Following Albir (2004, 627), this perspective focused on the critic of sexist terminology and concepts in translation, the compilation of the social role of women translators in translation history; the reviewing of translations of texts written by women, analysis of sexist elements in translations, and so forth. The Cognitive Science, which is directly related to Cognitive Linguistics and Cognitive Semantics is a relatively recent tradition arising from the question of meaning and its permutations, an important contribution to the issue of culture as translation. The Blending Theory of Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner dates from 1993 and is inspired by Arthur Koestler’s book, The Act of Creation. Blending theory supports the idea that different elements and vital relations of various scenarios of everyday life are put together (blended) in an unconscious process, also referred to as Conceptual Blending or Conceptual Integration. This process has three phases: composition, completion and explanation. Apart from the obvious relationship of this theory with the idea of translation, this theory relates to the ‘theory of mental space’ and the ‘theory of conceptual metaphor’ according to which one seeks to characterize mental maps and to map the connections between elements and relations between different mental spaces, or to identify the metaphors as sets of correspondences between different maps. These perspectives seem to put the balance on the side of a particular cognitive logic of relations between representations. Nevertheless, it is



our belief that representations are, themselves, always socially bound, in that meaning as a social feature frames the cognitive manipulations. It is on this ground that these theories should be considered. Finally, we may characterize a set of authors, texts and parts of texts, that seek to go further and identify culture as a whole, as a process of continuous translation. From the analysis of each and all previous traditions that argued about translation, it does not seem difficult to arrive at the inference that any representation and social practice between idiolect and universal is indeed translation. However some authors must be mentioned as the originators of the idea of culture as translation. Walter Benjamin overcame the ideas of departure and reception in his 1923 text, The Task of the Translator and acknowledged that the translator was an author himself. Michael Bakhtine (1978) proposed in late 30s the concepts of heteroglossia and chronotope in which language always opens to a continuous diversity of references and meaning. Charles Peirce in the 30s and 40s used the idea of translation as to understand interpretation (Eco, 2005: 235) and Jakobson (1959), following Peirce ideas, distinguished translation as intralingual (rewording), interlingual (translation in a strict sense) and intersemiotic (transmutation). Jacques Derrida in his Towers of Babel (c1985, 1992), based on the text of Benjamin, related translation to the ‘other of language’, différance and deconstruction. George Steiner (c1975, 2002) considered culture as a topological recreation in his book After Babel, specifically in the chapter Topologies of Culture (in which culture is considered as topological re-creation). Julia Kristeva’s (1991) proposed an inner translation that contained a notion of ‘strangeness’ where the Self becomes plural through the inclusion of “I” and the “Other”. Paul Ricoeur (c1999, 2006) follows Steiner, stating that ‘to understand is to translate’, turning equivalent intra and interlingual translation and even intersemiotics. Hence Interpretation and translation become the same. Considering translation as interpretation and this one, broadly, as ‘negotiation, Eco (2005: 244) presents a typology of interpretation (1. Interpretation by transcription, 2. Interpretation intra-systemic and 3. Interpretation inter-systemic). In the 90s the metaphor of translation saw some new dimensions beyond the idea of translating cultures or ‘cultural translation’, in particular through the challenges that globalization brought to Anthropology that resulted in a macro-anthropology or a transnational anthropology. Our world is since then understood as a ‘global ecumene’ rather than as a ‘global mosaic’ (Hannerz, 1994, p. 56) and the culture concept and its resulting fragmentation to which Anthropology contributed, became obsolete in a ‘continuous world’ (Ingold, 1994, p. 230). This new Weltanschauung came into existence through concepts such as third space, hybridism, inbetweeness, cosmopolitanism, scapes, travel, routes, resonances, and others through which the cultures to be translated were considered to be in inner-translation from the start. The idea of ‘Culture as translation’ replaces then cultural translation or translation between cultures. The ‘art of translation in a continuous world’ (Ingold, 1994) considered by Hannerz (1994) as ‘mediations in the global ecumene’ presents the idea of culture-as-translation. Whereas missionaries and anthropologsist were initially the main players here, now journalists and film-makers, tourists and tour guides, social workers, jurists, business consultants and many others operate as mediators in the interfaces between cultures (Hannerz, 1994, p. 48) This notion leads us to describe the notion of culture as an ongoing translation in a topological creativity where archetypical invariants are open to cognitive and social Différance. This creates an ever-present heteroglossia that defines each social situation as a chro-



notope of worlds of translation that makes the establishing of a departure from and a reception of languages, representations or social practices futile. Without downgrading the contributions of other sectional traditions on Translation, we believe this discussion covers most of them. Albeit only presented as an outline here, our interpretation pertains to the framework described above. The translation of cultures takes place in space and time. Therefore, the present-day compression of space and time results in the all-here-and-now that makes culture as translation into its primary metaphor and elevates it as a central issue in science and human politics (Ribeiro, 2005). Such a perspective is enabled by our own contemporary experience, and can help us to read different worlds, that is to propose a rhetoric of cultural translation in order to find meaning in the relationships between them. This tentative framework on culture as translation needs to be addressed from the theoretical and conceptual perspective, because it enables a whole new vein of empirical research that may feed a new anthropological imagination (Appadurai, 1996; Clifford, 1997; Cronin, 2006; Sturge, 2007 and so on). Besides, this anthropological imagination is not only scientific but, first and foremost, it is political. Thirty years after globalization became a popular trope, we are now in the presence of an arena of various globalization representations and practices: Globalization as a Center-Periphery relation; Globalization as a Network, Globalization as a Clash of Civilizations, Globalization as an array of syncretism and so on… Thus, Globalization in itself became translatable in a myriad of ways and this translatability creates geopolitics of representing Globalization which must be addressed. Therefore the way we represent Globalization is a very important in how we act upon it. Besides, Globalization understandable in an anthropological perspective is not at all a new phenomenon. The need to make sense of a world with too many differences is probably as ancient as the world (as order opposed to chaos) itself. In present times, it is important to feed our western repertoires about the world (always a world) with other realms of representation. By now, the Caribbean, India, Brazil…became relevant locus for this quest. Probably any zone of contact zones in the world could be elected for this kind of inquiry and more and more this is how the world is being understood and, in similar cases, this is how the world was always understood. This seems to be the case of Timor-Leste, which this book proposes as a most relevant case to reflect on cultural translation and culture as translation.

East-Timor/Timor-Leste, in the Asia-Pacific region, is, certainly, a very relevant case in what relates to Culture as Translation. The fact that it has a great variety of living cultures and languages; that it was one of the last colonies, that it is the first new state of the Twenty-first century, that it is the first state to be built up with support of the International Community (UN), that it is a full member of CPLP and a candidate to ASEAN are all grounds to consider East-Timor as a particularly special case in the global realm of interculturality. Furthermore, this relationship between Timor-Leste and the World has been explored and discussed in depth in the traditional oral culture of this country. The mythical variants in particular characterize the island of Timor as a whole being split up out of which several territories and cultures emerged. In this scenario the presence of any foreigner is understood as a potential ‘return’. This is highly relevant, once the ‘Other’ is always, at least potentially, an ancestor



who returns. In other words, the ‘Other’ is potentially an alter-ego; the ‘Other’ is a translation of the Timorese ‘I’. In a sense, ethnocentrism is the other face of translatability of cultures and, perhaps, one does not exist without the other. Timor-Leste is a culturally very compressed and diversified country. It has two (sometimes considered as rather three) geo-cultural regions that contain about 30 ethno-linguistic groups. Although symbolically perceived as a single unit (the island) in many narratives, it is in fact politically divided in that the other half of the island belongs to the Republic of Indonesia. The Constitution of Timor-Leste acknowledges 4 languages. These 4 languages includes two ‘official’ languages, Portuguese (reminding history) and Tetum (evoking the future), and two ‘working languages’, one that is hegemonic in Southeast Asia (Indonesian/ Malay) and the other that is hegemonic on the entire planet (English). Thus, past and future as well as the two realms international region and globalization are being taken into consideration. Colonial and post-colonial politics, justice, education and medicine complicated even more the clan histories, the fragmented territory, the plural linguistic reality and the sacred and secular cultures of ‘traditional’ societies that were in a state of constant translation. Furthermore, this cultural complexity increased because of the diaspora and counter-diaspora in the last decades through which the ‘never-ending story’2 expanded. These are just some of the arguments supporting the main assumption that translation is what equally manages the relations in cultural diversity in Timor-Leste as well the relation between Timor-Leste and the World. Translation is, thus, the core cultural heritage of TimorLeste. Conceptually one might suggest that the same phenomenon applies to many of other cultures where they are reflected in particular structures as for example towns, regions or countries, since we maintain that culture can be defined as translation. However, TimorLeste is a very relevant case in that the translation processes can be analyzed as crosscutting device for a huge amount of diverse spatial and temporal layers (chronotopes) that even provides the frame to support the national culture that is under construction. Cultural translation processes frame the relations amongst different ethno-linguistic groups. They form part of the social status of the languages (whether they are official or working languages, vehicular or local languages, day-by-day or ritual languages). They frame the social relations (among clans; between mountain-people and town-people; between regions; and so forth). They frame the myths that cross-cut the several ethno-linguistic groups. They are thus elements of national identity and the cement with which a sense of unity is created. The myths about the origin of the island, of the different languages and the different brothers are stories that characterize culture as translation. Their main goal is confirming translation. Any specific author(ity) who discusses culture (with the ‘Keepers of the Word’) is aware of several alternative ‘narrations’ (“é conforme” – “it depends”). The whole truth therefore can only be accessed by compiling the variants of the several ‘Keepers of the Word’. Each time these different stories may depend on several interrelated issues of knowledge, representation and social relation, because of which they characterize culture as translation. Thus, cultural translation processes, as negotiation strategies amongst differences, are in the core of Timor-Leste’s societies, whether in an ethno-linguistic, social or symbolic sense. In sum,
2 Title of two of Aone Van Engelenhoven presentations to characterize what we here designate as culture of translation.



the idea of ‘chronotope’ and ‘heteroglossia’ framing ‘topological creativity’ in the worlds of translation and the ‘task of the translator’ appear to be the basis with which to understand Timorese cultural processes that define the nation and/or the island.

The present book, as all books, is a ‘translation artifact’. In fact, the ‘book’ is one of the most important translation artifacts all over the world. It accommodates the diversity of social speeches (heteroglossia) in a unique solid chronotope by suddenly, enabling an immemorial human dream and ambition: to have the world in our hands. As such, the liquidity of negotiation/translation of oral repertoires seems, frozen in the exclusive truth of the book: reading and writing have become paramount. Just when translation seems to come to an end, it explodes. When the man with the book (the missionary) arrived in order to describe cultures, he also brought the idea/concept of ‘translation’3 to the living cultures of translation. To be able to read, to write and, ultimately, to translate the Bible was, probably in most cultures, to be able to reach that dream and ambition of all times: to hold a map of the world in one’s hands, to seize the ‘world’ or globalization. The present book does not aim at such a high goal, although it is still a book and therefore a translation artifact. This book presents the output and subsequent discussion of the research project “translating culture, cultures as translation: negotiation as core heritage in Timor-Leste” that was funded by the Portuguese National Foundation for Science and Technology and brought together six researchers from four different countries (Portugal, Brazil, The Netherlands and Timor-Leste). The book is divided into five parts, each addressing a particular topic. In the first part (culture as /in translation) we deal with the idea of culture as/in translation as a framework for approaching identity processes in the cultures of Timor-Leste. In the second part (2006: Revelation of translation) we propose the first post-colonial crisis in Timor-Leste as a crucial moment in which the nation under construction faces and openly discusses its own diversity. Translation was in crisis and the crisis was a way for a new translation, turning this post-conflict crisis a relevant case study from which there might be hypothesis to be raised in order to make sense of the post-colonial crisis. The following parts of the book on Flow of Life, Justice and Politics in Translation, analyse the main issues of East-Timorese life through the idea of negotiation as core heritage.

3 Panchanan Mohandy, a colleague from University of Hyderabad, India, suggested to me that The Upanishads were translated to different languages without the idea of translation. The person who wrote knew the languages and was only putting into written words what it was already known by memory.





The research that supports this text is based on work in progress. It is clear that in order to elaborate on the hypothesis of culture as translation, more intensive work is required in which Timorese collaborate with malaes (foreigners). Nevertheless, we propose that some of the dynamics of cultural translation framing the conviviality of East-Timor/Timorese5 society(ies) and culture(s) already have been highlighted. The research team paid special attention to the crisis of 2005-2006 (Seixas, 2005, 2006b; Silva, 20106) because this was a moment that displayed cultural translation. The crisis of that time (Seixas, 2007, 2009a) enhanced a higher consciousness of the managing conviviality dynamics and cultural translation as a critical aspect. In any case, whatever synthesis of what is at stake is always a temporary attempt on meaning analysis, supported by the contributions of the colleagues which participate on this research since 2006. Cultural translation is an expression that makes sense when culture is considered in sociosemiotic terms. In general one expects linguistic translation (translation between languages) between cultures. Within a culture there is as well a continuing translating between several semiotic codes (for example language; gestures; space; products) in order to create new coherences of time, space, social relations and alike over and over again. Cultural translation became important to Anthropology not only because of the attempted comparison between language and culture, between departure and reception language and departure and reception cultures, between the task of the translator and the work of the anthropologist in between cultures. Its importance was also connected to the notion that ‘modes of thought’ (Lienhardt 1954) in different cultures could not be so far apart that their mutual understanding as ‘other’ representations or social practices would be completely impossible. Cultural dimensions of globalization turned this intellectual discussion into a widespread visible practice of everyday and the Internet created the paradigm of everything-here-andnow. Moreover, relations among nation-states in the globalization era just revealed the relevance of the translation processes both among cultures and within each culture (as in the pair Globalization-Indigenousness). This was as such as to blur the concept of culture itself, considering it as uncomfortably obsolete and substituting it rather by ‘scapes’, ‘processes’, ‘routes’, ‘travelling’ and ‘translation’ among other things. Anthropologists were quite
4 I am grateful to Kelly Cristiane da Silva for her comments to the Portuguese version. I am also grateful to Aone Van Engelenhoven for the reading of the English version as well as to his comments and pertinent insights. 5 Both East Timorese (the politically bound -country- and the culturally bound one that is not necessarily defined in a simple way as a nation) and Timorese (the island and its cultural bound) 6 Both articles have been included in this book, in section II: 2006, Revelation of Translation.



sensitive to this, especially because the globalization era created the ground for criticize the anthropologists’ use of culture as a way to frame and freeze people in territories and in periods of development as a legitimation of Modernity ideology. This is an issue that is far from simple. First of all it is quite simplistic to consider work in Modern Anthropology as just a way to localize people in space and time. Secondly, one could also consider blurring the notion of culture as to take place within Globalization ideologies, whether they were in a neo-liberal or counter-hegemonic position. Furthermore, the blur of cultures is the rediscovery of something quite well known by anthropologists for a long time (at least since the Diffusionists): cultures have no fixed borders, because they are diffusion processes that are translated through space and time. Thus, the notion of culture as translation has a long genealogy in Anthropology, even though a theory of culture-as-translation is still needed and a suitable fieldwork methodology must be developed. Albeit without the theoretical assumptions, this paper intends to apply the perspective of culture-as-translation to a particular case-study: the East-Timorese/Timorese society(ies) and culture(s). For this synthesis, I considered three ‘worlds’ (universes of repertoires) of cultural translation that intermingle in more or less complex ways and create ‘configurations’ of translation that relate among themselves, not only in a normative but also in a creative way. These three ‘worlds’ of cultural translation are: 1. The ‘material supports’ of translation: the rock, the ‘trunk’ (Dionísio Babo Soares), the areca and betel, the basket, the house (Lúcio Sousa), town and mountain (Kelly Silva); 2. The linguistic dispositives of translation: the role of the different language statuses; the role of names; the role of secrecy; the role of lexical parallelism…; (Aone Van Engelenhoven); 3. The narratives of translation: the notion that there are ‘chunks of stories’ which are basic for relating to cultural diversity (Van Engelenhoven e Paulo Castro Seixas) and the hypothesis that the story of the brothers, the voyage and the ‘cultural artifact’ is a narrative of translation ( Paulo Castro Seixas). These three worlds of translation intermingle as to create ‘configurations of translation’. They constitute a grammar (a syntax and a semantics) that is negotiated in the ‘flow of life’. Social mediators of such ‘worlds of translation’ manage this grammar in the social ‘contact zones’ (Pratt, 1991) that lead to situational models of translation. A contact zone, as opposed to another term like community (‘speech communities’; ‘imagined communities’), emphasizes a continuous uneven difference in which chronotope (a diversity of time-space references) and heteroglossia (a diversity of discourses)7 build the structure of the social
7 Bakhtine presents the notion of chronotope in his work Esthetics and Theory of the Novel. He defines it as “an essential correlation of time and space references as they were assimilated by literature”. Further on he continues that “the signs of time are found within space and this is perceived and measured through time” (Bakhtine, 1978, p. 237). The notion of heteroglossia emerges in a paper of 1934 (The Discourse in the Novel), referring to the diversity of and conflict (dialogy) between several types of voices and speeches within the same linguistic code that the novel presents in a maximum level regarding other literary genders. This heteroglossia or plurilinguism results in that “in the inexhaustible plenitude of the subject, the writer finds a plurality of paths, routes, trails set by his own social conscience. Following the internal contradictions of the subject itself, the writer discovers a context of different social languages, a confusion of Babel which manifests itself around each subject, the dialectic of the subject is



situations itself. Although social life is but a continuity of subsequent contact zones, we present here some of the ‘contact zones’ that we consider as the most relevant ones (at least in their ethnographic visibility) where negotiation is anchored and dramatized. a. The negotiation in the ‘barlaque’ (wedding), one of the focal points in the Timorese ‘flow of life’ (Kelly Silva)8. Unfortunately, the other focal point (death) was not analyzed by any member of the research team. b. The negotiation in the field of justice and, specifically, in the relation between a hierarchical society and an egalitarian law as well as between a local paradigm of justice and an imported one (Daniel Simião e Dionísio Babo Soares); c. The negotiation in the field of health and, specifically, in the case of mental health, may be the case where translation amongst cultures is the most evident (Karina Oliveira); d. The negotiation in the field of the arts, mainly in the new arts (Marco Vallimo) as well as it is evidenced in the case study of pottery and clay figurines (Paulo Castro Seixas). In the following section I will focus on the dynamics of cultural translation, both in terms of what I called ‘worlds of cultural translation’ and the ‘contact zones’ that are mentioned in this introduction.

The three ‘worlds’ of cultural translation which were characterized above interact in a triangle in which none has necessarily any primacy over the others. It is stressed here that the ‘world’ of the ‘material support’ of cultural translation includes the landscape as a whole, in all its places, and culturalized objects. Its complete inventory is simply impossible because of the differences that exist between regions, villages and houses. Besides, these differences are interpreted (translated) as a result of social differences borne out by narratives and as a result of the differences between languages and their associated terminology. Thus, the ‘world’ of material supports is translated by the other two worlds of cultural translation. Notwithstanding this cultural relativity that ‘world’ has some basic ‘topologies’ or elements that repeatedly emerge albeit in different ways. This applies to the stone, the trunk, the areca and betel, the basket, the house…and even to the mountain and the town as wholes in themselves. The metaphorical power of a particular sign (an indicator of the linguistic ‘world’) may, eventually, be a good indication of the topological character of each element in the ‘world’ of the material supports.

interwoven with the social dialogue around it. To the writer the subject is the focal point of a diversity of voices in the midst of which his voice should also resonate (...)”. (Bakhtine, 1978, p. 102 – my translation). 8 In this book Kelly Silva’s perspective is in dialogue with the one of David Hicks, although only Kelly Silva was part of the research team bounded by the cultural translation hypothesis.



The trunk is referred to by Soares (2003) in the title of his thesis and is a core metaphor, just like the stone. The areca and betel (Sousa, 2010a), which constitute the masque, are present in an area that extends from India to Southeast Asia. In Timor-Leste they represent man and woman. The masque itself symbolizes the sexual union and, thus, the alliance9. They represent the beginning of any relationship and are offered before any meeting as a signal of welcoming and as an opening for a conversation. Lúcio Sousa (in this volume) presents the necessary ethnographic arguments to consider areca and betel as translatable elements, thus topologies, in a cultural continuity that extends from an elementary act of everyday life (a biographical object) to a relevant cosmological and ritual representation (of sun and moon; of the beginning of a ritual relationship and so forth) and to the political context (that represents Timorese people as ‘national objects’). We already introduced here the basket. Sousa (2010, p.186) refers to the ‘holy baskets’ as one of the ‘ritual attractive poles” that structure the house. The ritual use of baskets is probably found throughout Timor cultures, even if clay recipients are equally important in such processes. Sousa mentions Bunak culture where holy baskets are the most important marker of a holy house being the roots put inside (thus reminding of the trunk) as a symbol of the house as a whole. He even refers to a ritual where each basket represents a particular Timorese district. With reference to houses, the “Society of Houses” (Lévi-Strauss cit in Sousa, 2010, p. 151) leads us to a particular societal strategy. Whether or not in emic or etic terms10, the ‘house’ and the ‘House’ or the ‘house’ and the ‘sacred house’ can be repeated in different forms and with different qualifications. This reveals that we are facing a topology, an important metaphor of culture. Lúcio Sousa (2010, p. 186) states “The holy house constitutes an allegory to House”, and, elsewhere (Ibid, p. 151): “the term ‘house’ has been spelled with lower-case letters to represent the house, to its physical and architectonic structure”; with capital letters, to its social entity, as a lineage”. The house represents, in a certain way, all that is translatable. Consequently we find the other metaphors there: the trunk (the pillars), the fireplace, the baskets (and inside them the roots… again the trunk). These are the elements that Fox names “attractor ritual” and Sousa calls “ritual attractive poles” (Ibid., p. 152). In fact, these are commutative elements in the grammar of cultural translation, a grammar that is understandable in several cultures. The house, the trunk, the fireplace, the baskets, the roots... have their own meanings and at the same time, are commutative. They constitute a metaphoric bunch/cluster, a center of the material supports of cultural translation which aggregates them. Finally, it is possible to conceive the ‘mountain’ and the ‘city’ as contextual “material supports” that limit the comprehension of East-Timor. Kelly Silva dates the production of such cultural constructs to the colonial period of the transition from 19th to 20th century, postBerlin Conference and suggests that the “opposition between mountain (foho) and city (sidade) is a structuring theme in the process of the colonial and national imagination of East-Timor”. The mountain relates to the “usos e costumes” and the city to “multiple modernities” (Silva, 2010a). In a genealogical analysis of differences in East-Timor, the difference between mountain (foho) and plains (tetuk) probably preceded the difference between
9 Indication given by the oral intervention of James Fox regarding the presentation of Lúcio Sousa (2010a). 10 The terms Emic and Etic were introduced by the linguist Kenneth Pike. Emic means a narrative through the point of view of the actor and then an internal point of view of the culture in question. Etic means a narrative description resulting from an outside observer.



mountain (foho) and city (sidade) (Seixas, 2005).This difference was presumably already by then a socio-cultural one (for instance between ethnic groups, but also between a sacred world and a mundane world). In sum, there seems to be a set of elements that profile themselves as ‘topologies of culture’, following Steiner’s conception (2002, pp. 467-468). They constitute a poetics of culture in continuous flow that is always open to new possibilities. They are, in other words, elements of a grammar of the cultural translation along the temporal axis (between the living and the ancestors) and the geographical axis (between ‘us’ and ‘other’). As to the linguistic world, it creates, per se, a parallel system to the one of the “material supports” of cultural translation, system such that creates a plurality of possibilities. It is in function of the superposition between the world of signs and the physical world that one can say that the areca and betel, a stone, a trunk, a house, a basket, a fireplace... are different and yet one and the same thing. Aone Van Engelenhoven has presented several linguistic elements that can be of interest to the anthropological analysis and discussion of this world in EastTimor and in Southeast Indonesia: concealment and secrecy, names, lexical parallelism. Concealment and secrecy work as much as a ‘survival strategy’ (Engelenhoven, 2008a) and, we believe, as a way of concealing its own loss of memory11. The concealment may sometimes just mean that something is open to whoever wishes to unveil it. That can either be a word that cannot be uttered as a word or whose meaning we do not know at all12. For all this, the secret is probably the central linguistic element of this world of translation. This enables the living metaphor (Ricoeur), the metaphor surpassing the word, the sentence, the discourse. There are names one may pronounce and there names one may not pronounce, that are secret. There are languages that can be used by all and languages that can only be used by some in some occasions. There are languages that are secret and only to be used in very strict circumstances... by one or two that know how to use them. That means that there is a name behind an other name and sometimes even a language behind an other language. The logic of concealment and secrecy enables the construal of language as a set of superpositions (of layers). This is related to the fact that several languages of Timor (and also in Indonesia) lack verb conjugation, which makes metaphoric play much more easy13. That implies that verb conjugation, in those languages where they exist, leads to the explication of the metaphor. We therefore follow here the hypothesis that “a comparison is a developed

11 This is not a mere intuition. From certain field experiences with Van Engelenhoven we know that the use of words from a similar language may enable the acceptance of these words as ritual words. 12 The first case, a word which can not be uttered, is quite common: typically the name of an ancestor. Van Engelenhoven (2010: 251) mentions the other case in a footnote. A Fataluku dictionary made by Fataluku speakers mentions a certain word (‘woro-konai’) that is uttered when stories of the past are told but whose meaning is unknown. It is also relevant that the most sacred narratives are given a name in another language, in the Fataluku case in Portuguese, ‘segredo’ (Engelenhoven in this volume) 13 This idea came up from a conversation with Van Engelenhoven. A language that does not rigorously institute the past, present and future leads much more easily to names/’estorias’ of different times being understood as interpretations of the present. In other words, promoting the metaphoric process.



metaphor” (Ricoeur cit in Marques, 2008) and not that a metaphor is a compressed comparison. Simply stated, the metaphor precedes genealogically its explication and hence, at least in part, its impoverishment14. The social status of languages is another fundamental aspect in the grammar of the linguistic world of cultural translation. The co-existence of several languages leads to each one having specific social functions. Basically, languages become rituals that bring to existence a certain world. They create a continuous context of translation, especially in a multilingual situation. Engelenhoven (2010a, pp. 248-249) reveals that the ‘names’ are quantitatively and qualitatively relevant elements15. The hypothesis of Van Engelenhoven is that ‘names’ are ‘epitomes’ of other narratives. This means that names are narratives (‘narratives chunks’) and each narrative is but “a unique combination of “chunks” that depends on the context of the performance”(ibid, p. 250). Thus each time a narration is made, this is but the explicitation of some names. The narrative, on its turn, is but an explication, of the metaphor, even if the narrative has an open end. Thus, as we will see below, the fact that any explication of the metaphor closes part of its meaning is dangerous. The reason is that it reveals the principle of authorship and interpretative authority in a world where that is not possible... probably even where the elders are but the spokesman of ‘the ancestors’ (the collective referent being relevant in itself )16. Finally, lexical parallelism is also a very important feature. Lexical parallelism is the combination of verbs or nouns - synonyms or antonyms - in pairs. Lexical parallelism can be a “phenomenon of borrowing” or “language dependent”, depending on the authors. Nevertheless, the fact that similar parallelisms may be found in neighbor languages, whether genetically related or not, “suggests that the phenomenon of parallelism supersedes the language-specific plan and, as such, warrants the anthropological approach to the matter” (ibid, p. 245). The fact that lexical parallelism may depend on the type of narrative, directs us to what we tried to explicate in the preceding paragraph: the need for a ritual discursive form (separated from the current linguistic form) that enables the emergence of authorship and author-

14 Engelenhoven (in this volume) states that both in Letinese and in Fataluku the ‘secret’ is refered to by using a foreign language (Indonesian for the Letinese and Portuguese in the Fataluku case) and that to refer it in their own language one would need to describe it by means of a sentence once the concept lacks a word of its own. 15 The fact that in East-Timor several persons have three names, namely, the timorese name (so called ‘gentilico’ in colonial time); the ‘Christian/Portuguese’ name and the war name, reminds us of a relation between times or generations (gerasaun) and, therefore, of certain narratives, epitomized through a name. In fact, it is possible to ask the persons themselves to explain their name. I used this procedure during my field work and asked Commander ‘L7’ to tell me about his war name, what he did, transforming it immediately into a narrative. 16 In the individualist society of the homo equalis, the individual is permitted to exist in the world, but in the holistic society of the homo hierarquicus, the individual exists outside of the world (Dumont, 1985). In this sense, the narration of names is always a moment of frontier, liminal or even, eventually, a moment outside the world, being necessary to evoke the protection of ancestors to allow the possibility of talking with them, about them and even sometimes, with their voices.



ity. The passage from a less ethnographic, linguistic analysis, to an anthropological analysis implies an interpretative leap for which we do not have sufficient support. However, what lexical parallelism seems to do is exactly to place these ‘pieces of narrative’ face to face. It is an attempt to evidence the several metaphors and, possibly, an attempt to ‘develop the metaphor’ in the conception of Ricoeur. In other words, it is an approximation to systematic comparison. Engelenhoven himself proposes an anthropological interpretation, even if centered on a specific case, the narrative No Lolo within the Fataluku (an ethno linguistic group from east part of East-Timor). What Engelenhoven tell us is that “one of the most salient aspects of performance of one no lolo is its fierce and angry like recitation, as if the performer wanted to pronounce all lexical pairs as quickly as possible” (Ibid, p. 250). Engelenhoven further states that “Chanting a no lolo is generally referred to as something timine, ‘hot’, that the performer needs to get rid off as soon as possible. If not, he – and possibly the audience – will be suffering negative consequences from the performance. A performer, in other words, profiles a war scenario in which the words spoken are sharp weapons that can hurt one’s self if they are not flung way quickly.” (Ibid, 250). In fact, if one puts together a series of ‘names’ (chunks of narratives) in metaphoric whirl, this creates a metaphysical situation in which anything may happen, because it evokes the sacred. But also because what is at stake when one goes from the ‘names’ to the ‘narratives’ explains the metaphor and automatically diminishes its range of meanings. In other words, one assumes an interpretation (although defended by a collective author(ity): ‘the ancestors’) and that is extremely dangerous because we are superposing the power of ancestors to the power of the living. One of the biggest dangers will certainly come from assuming the existence/possibility of a ‘literary fraud’, of an authorship and authority used without legitimacy17. To say the ‘name’ - the metaphor in all its possibilities - is thus a strong taboo that is perfectly understandable. To say the ‘name’ means that everything in fact, is “according... to each one”. In other words, all is/turns into narrative, because the name includes multiple possibilities of narrative. If everyone can know/say the ‘name’, then anyone can interpret and the language loses its direct relation with the real (sacred), being but rheto-

17 I borrow here from Van Engelenhoven while simultaneously trying to give an anthropological interpretation to his analysis. Van Engelenhoven states that “One of the remaining research questions is whether or not Fataluku oral traditions develop a strategy of ‘literary fraud’, as in Southwest Malukan traditions, through which one’s lexical pairs, and consequently one’s no lolo, |ritual narrative| can look more genuine and thus truer than the opponent’s” (Van Engelenhoven, 2010: 251). It is very likely that the possibility and the fear of ‘literary fraud’ is present even without rationalization. It would be linked not only to the narrative itself but, perhaps, with everything surrounding it. I recall, in a ritual I was filming that while I was walking from one place to another, someone called my attention to the fact that anything happening from that moment on had a meaning. In other words, not only words but also inadequate gestures or even a change in weather would be interpreted as questioning the continuity of the ritual. Naturally one of the possible interpretations was that what happened should not be done for it did not have the ‘support’ of the ancestors and of the several lords of nature. In a final analysis, this could mean that a fraud was commited, either related to the request of the ritual, the narrative or the context (place where it is done, the presence of someone that should not be there and so forth). It was in fact, such a situation that would have led to the death of Captain Cook because, by eating with the women and the same food, his incorporation of the god Lono became a fraud (Salhins, 1997: 29).



rics and pragmatics. In other words, when all are mediators, myths transform into mere confabulates and ‘stories’18. We face here another part of the grammar of cultural translation, not anymore the one of the ‘material supports’ of translation but of language that produces worlds and in which, in certain moments (rituals), puts together temporal axis (between living and ancestors) and/ or geographical ones (between ‘us’ and the ‘other’) to re-interpret (which means to rebuild, even prospectively) the world through the tasks of particular translators. We already more or less introduced the world of narratives of translation when we discussed the two other worlds of cultural translation. We hypothesize that certain key-narratives, certain narratives or chunks of narratives constitute leading-pieces from which many of the others derive. Additionally, these ‘narrative chunks’ also work as ‘charter myths’, as stories that assist in the comprehension/understanding of what happens, enabling thus a kind of map to action. Naturally, in East-Timor there are several relevant narratives. There is the narrative of the origin of Timor Island in which the island is the center of the world, the birth place of all other people and even the origin of different continents that eventually broke away. It differentiates between ‘those that stay’, those that from this very place, and ‘those that came back’ or ‘will come back’. Another well-spread narrative that even transformed into a national narrative is the legend of the crocodile and the boy. Here, the crocodile transforms into an island and the boy becomes its first inhabitant to live and feed on it. There are also the narratives about brothers (several, but always including an older and younger brother as important characters). They are about the travel by one of them and about what we called an ‘artifact of translation’ (for instance hooks, a rock, a trunk, a chart, a book, a chair). This is something that the protagonist has picked up and taken along that has to bring back though transformed into something else. As we already wrote elsewhere (Seixas, 2010b, p.304): “[…] the narratives (which are, in fact, only parts of narratives) about the ‘brothers’ and the ‘voyage’ are narratives about cultural diversity, about translation. They are ‘charter myths’ that help a culture to face, accommodate and assimilate the contact – and the clash – with different cultures. In this sense, the ‘translator artifact’ is, perhaps, the single most important element, precisely because of its apparently inexhaustible metaphoric versatility. ‘Trunk’, ‘stone’, ‘fish-hook’, ‘letter’, ‘notebook’, ‘book’ may have several different meanings: the wealth of the paternal house, women, the government, knowledge. How

18 It is for this reason that to know/say the ‘names’ and the ‘narratives’ is in these societies probably the most relevant social function. Lúcio Sousa is quite clear on this in a report of his field work: “It is this trip that I will describe, in some situations elliptically, recalling episodes of field work, in particular those that deal with the search for words narrating the path of ancestors and of some of the men who stop them: the Lal gomo |lord of the word in Bunak|. The path of the ancestors is an essential part of the oral memory. To know it is to know the origin of yourself and of your own group. It is to assure the well-being and fertility of the House and its members. But it is also a source of legitimation of the social hierarchy as well as of the ideal representation of its relation with the world” (Sousa, 2008: 87).



to translate translation? This could be the foremost important question to be answered, the secret that must not be revealed.”(Seixas, 2010, p. 304). These narratives create fundamental configurations of Timorese culture as translations of diversity. Paulo Castro Seixas has been working on these processes, either from the point of view of the ideology of translation inherent to the mythic varieties, or from the present social objectification of such ideology. The latter is exemplified in clan society (the rite of the institution of a foreign as a Timor citizen as a result from the ‘gluing’ of the myth)19, in art (as in clay figurines) and in national politics (the analysis of the crisis of 2005-2006). What is proposed is that relationship between brothers (in fact a relationship between houses, between highlanders and plain-dwellers, between Timorese and malae, …) is fundamental to Timor society and enables a repertoire of narratives of translation that play a role in several situations of social structuring. On the other hand, the travel (of going away or returning) also plays a role in several situations of social change. Finally, the ‘artifact of translation’ is the mobile for the travel and is usually represented by material support related to knowledge-power. In a ‘Society of Houses’ and ‘Names’ that directly evoke social status (the place of origin, the right to earth), younger and older brother are imaginary of social positions and possibility of social change at the same time. The younger brother can either socially outgrow the older brother, or become an older brother in an other House, or in certain situations can perform functions of the older brother. It is thus a social imaginary of hierarchy and inversion that corresponds (although untranslatable) to the imaginary of social classes and mobility in western societies. These three worlds of cultural translation create configurations that direct us in several ways to material elements (the World of the material supports of translation), to signs and their relations (the World of the Linguistic Mechanisms of Translation) and to certain narratives or ‘narrative chunks’ (the World of the Narratives of Translation) even if the metaphoric power of these configurations transcend those three worlds. In a very simplistic way, we might say that the ‘Houses’, the ‘Names’ and the ‘Brothers’ are the three paradigmatic images/characters of each of the referred Worlds of Translation, even if they are basically articulators and triggers of the other material, linguistic and narrative supports/media of cultural translation. These are the worlds of translation and its configurations constitute the Timorese paradigm at work in the contact zones of the multiple postcolonial modernities.

Colonial and post-colonial situation enable multiple ‘contact zones’, which in Pratt’s (1991) conception are frontier-platforms where different knowledge-powers are played/negotiated. Hence, the cultural production and reception in these contact-zones should be heterodox, depending on the places where relevant social actors are positioned. These contact zones are, thus, contexts of social action where cultural translation and social negotiation
19 This institution was described (Seixas, 2008) and is documented in a 120 minutes movie (Seixas, 2009) about the institution of Aone Van Engelenhoven as a Timorese (the documentary attached to this book).



are not only evident, resulting from this contact, but also structure the very contact. In other words, they are creators of new worlds. The research in the project about cultural translation, focused on four contact-zones: alliances (marriage), justice, health and arts in their articulations with cultural diversity. In the following paragraphs we intend to present the findings of the research team concerning the shape of these contact-zones. Kelly Silva focused on the ‘contact-zone’ of alliances (marriage, so-called barlake/hafolin) (Silva, 2009; 2010b and in this volume). To Silva, the relation between ‘Mountain’ and ‘City’, while referents, respectively, of the ‘customs and traditions’ and of ‘multiple modernities,’ is fundamental to the understanding of ‘marriage negotiations’. Centering her field-work in Dili, Silva (2010b, p. 4) characterizes the metropolis as a contact-zone by excellence for the analysis of alliances: “Dili constitutes as a plural and diverse space (Simião, 2006), in which circulate multiple projects of modernization, appropriations and reinventions of ‘customs and traditions’. In this place strongly marked by memory of political facts that affected the country throughout the 20th century, we see social actors negotiating at every moment, their ‘traditions’ (lisan), their ‘customs and traditions’, of which the barlake/hafolin is taken as fundamental part” (2010b, p. 4). The existence of the aforementioned three worlds of translation is relatively obvious. In the material world of translation, the marriage/barlake/hafolin is a relation between Houses, and the ritual itself (and the center of its contest) is an ‘exchange of gifts and/or hatam antra’. In the linguistic world of translation this is also clearly shown for ‘one of the first steps’ that each family takes is to nominate a representative speaker (lia nain), who shall act as representative of the house/family in marriage negotiations (ibid, p.5). In the world of narratives, the ‘Umane’ (house of the bride’s family) has precedence over the ‘fetosan’ (house of the groom’s family), also called ‘mane foun’20 (young man). In this manner, the narrative of brothers is also enacted here, the ‘mane foun’ being the younger brother and ‘Umane’ the older brother. Silva (2010a) mentions the emergence of a ‘Dili type marriage’ (as it is locally called) in opposition to other types of marriage (of mountains), which is characterized by not having barlake. However, and in spite of this dichotomy of Timorese urban culture, what Silva shows is that barlake is an arena of contestation, and in fact, a field of strong cultural translation: “It is not rare, for example, that different members of a sole house/family have distinct positions regarding hafolin. The grooms may be against its solicitation, but their parents and uncles may be in favor or, in another way, the parents of the grooms may not want to solicit the barlake, but end up by giving in to pressures by their brothers” (Silva, 2010a, p.8).

20 Kelly Silva does not use the expression ‘mane foun’, only ‘fetosan’. Nevertheless, this seems important as an element (among others) that enables interpretations of the narrative of the brothers. ‘Manefoun’ may be one younger brother relatively to the house ‘fetosan’ but will always be a ‘manefoun’ (younger brother) in relation to its Umane. The lexical parallelism that is used in colloquial conversation, Fetosan-Umane and Umane-Manefoun can be an evidence of such. The term Umane-Manefoun is used in a documentary directed by me in Bazartete (Seixas, 2004).



Kelly Silva presents, thus, several cases of ‘negativization’ and ‘positivization’ of the barlake that characterize such arena. The barlake is denied with the argument of the ‘incomensurability between men and things’, as a “strategy to preserve the access to daughters”, by contraposition to a regulation of gifts (“to offer exactly what people requested”) (Ibid, pp.8-11). On the other hand, the barlake is defended as “a way of uniting families”; as a “way of mutual support in adversity contexts”; as respect for the “costum, its lisan”; as a way of valuing the Umane and the women and also as an “antidote against divorce” (Ibid, 11-15). However, beyond its negativization and positivization, the barlake reveals a big dissociation between what is said and done, showing a wide range of variants. Daniel Simião focused on the contact-zone of the ‘forms of justice’ in the cultural translation that is established between local (nahe biti boot or tesi lia) and state’s level of ‘juridical sensibilities’ or ‘forms of justice’. The first mentioned “was oriented to reconciliation and maintenance of the general order” and the latter “was oriented by individual rights and to the punishment of the guilty” (Simião, 2010). Simião states that the cultural translation of the local forms of justice that has been done in NGOs reports has characterized them exclusively in a negative way, while at the same time, the penetration of State justice forms in the interior is relatively poor. Thus, the ‘customary law’ or ‘the customs and traditions’ on the one hand and the ‘positive law’ on the other, seem to identify the ‘mountain’ and the ‘city’ as physical, social and symbolic differentiated places, respectively. The worlds of translation are well represented in local juridical form. The ‘names’ that characterize the local juridical sensibility, ‘tesi lia’ (to talk to solve things) or ‘nahe biti boot’ (spread out the big mat), evidence, per se, the worlds of translation. The deepest meaning of the mat as material support directs us to a logic of the ‘flow of life’. It is a mechanism of cultural translation that in other words manages disputes. In the processes of compensation that direct the ‘flow of life’ the narrative of the brothers as a narrative between Houses, between more than two persons, comes up and is followed by rituals of reconciliation that are variants of Fetosan-Umane. These naturally imply the onset of the worlds of translation as a whole21. The relation between local and State forms of justice leads to several cultural translations in the contact zone but reveals, most of the times, “a mismatch that prevents that the final result is perceived as fair; that prevents a sense of fairness)” (Ibid). What seems to be happening is that both juridical ‘forms’ or ‘sensibilities’ exist in parallel. This means that cultural translation only works through parallelism or superposition and not in articulation. In fact, from what Simião presents it becomes clear that the justice of ‘customs and traditions’ prevails in the mountains whereas the ‘State justice’ prevails in the city. The city is a contact-zone where the State justice covers the relevant actors in some cases, whereas in others they end up (for various reasons yet to be studied) being included in both legal forms. This parallel system does not consider cultural translation by articulation as an institution. One therefore can perceive the system as causing injustice
21 The case reported by Simião about the rape of a young woman by three boys and solved by negotiating the marriage of the girl with one of the boys and financial compensation from the part of the other boys is evidence of the justice in function of the relation between Houses. The documentary ‘Umane-Manefoun: the Return of the Rituals’ (Seixas, 2004) shows exactly a case of reconciliation between lineages through the re-enactment of gifts and counter-gifts that were stopped either by war, or by acts and words that created a conflict between the parts.



in a certain way. In face of the problems placed to the State of Timor - “(...) to sanction the usual practices of conflict management or (...) insist on a “civilizing” vocation of the positive law?”(ibid.) - Simião proposes to” build bridges between different juridical sensibilities that allow an adequate translation of expectations and attitudes based on culture to the legal language of the State “(ibid.). Simião thus advocates cultural translation (we would add ‘by articulation’) as an institution. He states: “It is not a question of bringing law closer to what “it is”, but of recognizing different ways of translating as the normative and interpretative planes and looking for bridges between those in a way of avoiding the worsening of situations already perceived as tragic” (Ibid). Seixas (2010a) shares the same concern and finds that the International Cooperation should focus not on a “transnationalization of western modernity’ (Seixas, 2003) leading to a neo-colonization, but on a support to cultural translation between different modernities. In other words, Cooperation should, more and more, bet on professionals from the third cultures, the contact-zones, the frontiers and hybridism. In sum, it should bet on professionals of cultural translation. Karina Oliveira (2010) has focused on another ‘contact-zone’, the one of health, and, specifically, on mental health. As in justice, the ‘Timorese perspective of mental health’ seems to coexist in parallel with western perspectives of health. Whereas in justice coercive systems work, in the sphere of health we are rather in the domain of choice between the ‘tuir lisan’ (to heal by tradition) and the health center. And such it is the family of the sick person and in function of the trust, in other words, the belief or faith, that chooses. In the Timorese perspective on mental health, a ‘pontu’ or ‘miring’ (in Indonesian) is ‘a person showing signs of abnormal behavior or social deviance”. A ‘bulak’ refers to a “person with a mental disease herself” that can be subdivided in two types: the ‘bulak feto’ and the ‘bulak mane’. The bulak-feto “shows incoherent discourse and a behavior that is not aggressive”, while the bulak-mane22“shows aggressive verbal discourse and a violent behavior” (Oliveira, 2010, p. 50). Causes that lead to becoming bulak are arriving at ‘rai lulik’ (holy land) without permission, being bitten by or killing a snake, breaking a ‘bantu’ (prohibition), being influenced by a certain ‘buan’ (entity that wonders through the earth), by ‘gerasaun’ (passing from parents to sons) or by ‘trauma’ (a certain situation or just ‘thinking a lot’). The treatment implies ‘tuir lisan’ (following tradition) or “nature” (“to solve the problems through nature”), in other words, to resort to matan-dook and the realization of an “estilo” (ceremony) in which a representative of the family is the mediator between the matan-dook and the bulak and in which there is “the offer of the sacrificed animal and/or the offer of money” (Ibid, p. 56). The Brothers of S. João de Deus who are in East-Timor since 2004, initiated a project of mental health. For that reason, “some say that it were the brothers of S. João de Deus who took mental diseases to Laclubar” (ibid, pp. 11). That shows that the term “mental disease” is associated to another context, not being the same as “Bulak”. The relation between “mental disease” and the “bulak” would have created terms such as “bulak-teen” (the fake mental diseased) and bulak-tebes (the true mental diseased) (ibid, p. 50). The first are entitled to be treated in the Health Center while the second have to be treated according to tradition (ibid, p.55). Oliveira states that the expression “moras mental” (ibid, pp. 72-73) only recently appeared. It is a translation of “mental disease” that is ‘lighter’ than the bulak, because of
22 Mane and feto mean, respectively, man and woman and are qualifiers to many elements in East-Timor.



which, the patient is entitled to go to the Health Center and receives medication. In other words, it seems that the translation performed by Timorese cultures leads to some patients being treated in the health center (bulak-teen and moras mental), while others, the bulaktebes (feto or mane), have to follow tradition (tuir lisan). Nevertheless the family of the patient can decide to take them too to the health center. It seems that the choice by family/ houses creates possibilities for hybridism and ambivalence that overcome the social parallelism and its exclusivity regime. Finally, Marco Vallino (2010) and Paulo Castro Seixas (2008a) have focused on the “contact zone” of the arts. Vallino has focused precisely on the “new art forms”. They are typically urban phenomena that reveal a big opening to external influences and hybrid productions, even if they are related to perfectly settled forms of arts as music, dance and painting. Seixas (2008a) has focused on a case-study, of pottery and (clay) figurines, trying to show how one can understand the worlds of translation through that production. Seixas interprets the figurines as ‘indigenous ethnography’ (Seixas & Providência, 2002 cit in Seixas, 2008a, p.91) that are in other words a reflexive process of translation of the culture itself, wherever it is produced. The world of the material supports of translation are an integrative part of pottery, which means that clay work not only includes the rock, the trunk and the basket as clay recipients. They had and have a ritual function besides other esthetic and mundane functions and today there are still ritual situations in which one must only use clay recipients. The production of figurines (emerging as a consistent production since 1975) is a miniaturization of life. Consequently the Holy House is reproduced with it, as the animals that are part of the ecology of Timorese life and that have a value in the ideology of reciprocity. In the linguistic world of translation, pottery may fulfill several functions for which , several ‘names’ are available, even if the recipient is the same. The figurines, on the other hand, present a linguistic dichotomy that works as an objectified kind of lexical/social parallelism. In fact, as Seixas (2008a, pp.94-98) demonstrated, figurines represent a dual world, of Uma Timor and Uma Malae. The first is characterized by the production of the Timorese house (typically represented by a house from the East zone) and by animals. The second is characterized by the production of the Nativity scene and the characters of the Church (Our Lady, baby Jesus, saints, etc.). While the first group has names from local languages or is translated into Tetum, the second is completely denominated in Portuguese. Finally, Seixas suggests that in the world of the narratives of translation the production of figurines as ‘indigenous ethnography’ reveals a dualism between Uma Timor (Timorese house) and Uma Malae (Foreign house) that contains two specific declinations: Uma Lulik, Uma Kreda (Holy House, Church House) and Uma Fukun, Maromak Nia Uma (House of Tradition, House of God) (ibid., 2008, p. 93). This relation between two ‘Houses’ with two ‘names’ in different languages leads to a relation ‘maun alin’, a relation between Kingdoms (Umane). We are thus, in the presence of a relation between ‘older brother’ (Uma Timor) and ‘younger brother’ (Uma Malae) but at a national level, enabling an interpretation of Timorese/East-Timorese Culture(s) as a whole, from its translational problems. (ibid, 2008, pp. 94-98).



Each and every culture is sustained in a translation problemacy. Each and every culture is a culture in/of translation. The role of Anthropology as well as Compared Sociology is to define this translation problemacy. This assumption guided us in this research about East-Timor, using a multi-sited ethnographic-anthropological methodology, in which the ethnographic research had the goal to characterize and anthropologically understand the translation problemacy of Timorese culture(s). It is possible that we just have begun to explore this problemacy. However, to want to go further implies to incur the temptation of essentialism. The translation problemacy of a culture is always visible and translatable in the ethnographic present of places and processes where ‘cultural breaks’ are analyzed, which means in the negotiation fields or in the ‘contact-zones’ between cultures or cultural fields. And such ‘contact-zones’ are temporarily contextualized. Therefore any picture registered in a certain period will be nothing more than an expression of how the translation problemacy of a culture at that moment is translated. This picture is, nevertheless, part of a movie in which it makes sense. An analysis of a series of translations of the translation problemacy of a certain cultural sociability (the program of a contemporary Anthropology) can therefore give us a perspective of cultural dynamics. In the case of the dynamics of cultural sociability in Timor, we propose in picture I and table I an inherently provisional synthesis of the four ‘contact-zones’ that we analyzed. Each ‘contact-zone’ analyzed has its own specificity. It is not correct to generalize from any of them independently. However, in all contact-zones we see a relation between what we can call a ‘culture of mountain’ and a ‘urban culture’. PICTURE. I



In analyzing the different ‘contact-zones’, we may still find models, which serve only to make sense of the ethnographic present of translating the translation problemacy. Surely such models must take the articulation between the mountain and the city into consideration (Picture I). Thus, we established an axis according to the criterion of freedom relatively to the contact-zone , from choice to coercion, and another axis according the criterion of the logic of the contact, going from the exclusivity of options (parallel cultural translation) to the possibility of ambivalence of the same (cultural translation by articulation). In this analysis, justice seems to imply the maximum of regulation/coercion and of exclusivity in translation, while arts seem to enable the maximum of freedom and translation ambivalence. Health, on the other hand, seems to imply a coercive system but does not impede on articulations and hybridism between a parallel/exclusive logic and an articulated/ambivalent superposition one. TABLE I
Regulation/coercion Cultural Translation by parallelism, superposion, exclusivity (A or B) Justice Health Alliance Arts Emancipation/choice Cultural Translation by articulation, ambivalence, hybridism (A and B)

In these contact zones ‘cultural topologies’ are played and dramatized in situations of everyday life and extraordinary ritualized events. These cultural topologies are thus constantly (re)interpreted socio-semiotically. This means that the play they are part of is equally contextually dependent (a constant acculturation) and structurally dependent (reporting to repertoires inculcated through enculturation). Thus, at least some of the acts and notions used or even created in the situational play are defined by chronotope and heteroglossia, being influenced by the two vectors. There are some ‘cultural topologies’ that bring particular ‘worlds of translation‘ (universes of repertoires) to the fore. This phenomenon depends on the social context of the ´contact zones´ and results in particular configurations of unsteady heteroglossia and chronotopes.Cultural translation is probably the proper and the best way of considering that process. There are elements that create the sensation of a ground for the representation (to be a spokesman of the ancestors) to the actor-author (the cultural creator) on the very moment when acting/authorship automatically requires transformation. In the case of East-Timorese/Timorese society(ies) and culture(s) the social parallelism represented below in table II is a rather simplistic representation of those cultural topologies. It is simplistic because it is not possible to present a grammar that characterizes the cultural translation processes. It is as if one presents the DNA in an epigenetics perspective or, in an easier comparison, as if one presents a musical scale in order to characterize and explain music.




Taci-feto Female Sea



Father/ Man

‘The ones Older who Brother stayed’

Lorosae (East)

Mountain Timorese Uma Timor; (foho) Old Gospel Plain/City Malae (for(tetuc/ eigner) Sidade) Uma Malae; New Gospel


Tacimane Male Sea

Crocodile Betel

Mother/ woman

‘The ones Young who Brother came back’

Loromono (West)

Anyway, in a contact zone of alliance, the social parallelism of Fetosan-Umane or UmaneMane foun is brought to the front. These cultural topologies are awakened in their chronotope diversity and heteroglossia. The same happening in the justice contact zone, between ‘nahe biti boot’ or ‘tesi lia’ and the State forms of justice, and in the case of the health contact zone between ‘tuir lisan’ and the health centre or the hospital and so forth. We end this text by emphasizing that the ´contact zone´ of politics that has not been discussed here should be a governance of contact zones. In this way, as we tried to show, it should install a cultural translation office, perhaps even on the Ministerial level that would be basic for public policies and the articulation and creation of bridges across the translation issues that are negotiated in each contact zone.




It was evening when we arrived at the front yard of the house. Some older women were seating there, others were cooking nearby. We were asked to sit on a carpet on the ground and a basket was given to us; it contained leaves of betel and slices of areca nuts. I took one leaf and a piece of a nut and rolled it inside the leaf as I saw others doing before. At the end, I put a bit of lime that was given to me by an old smiling lady. I put it in my mouth and a striking feeling of bitter and warm seized my mouth. At this moment, a House member, a young man in his thirties, gently nodded and said: this is the beginning of the relationship... and briefly explained the role of betel and areca chewing on any social occasion, to strengthen relationships, either between single encounters or, as on that occasion, at House 24 rituals, to salute family, friends or newcomers. After some time of resting and talking, we were invited to enter the sacred house. The attempt to provide a description of a singular moment in the context of a unique event is itself an effort to translate in words the core proposal of this research paper: material supports of cultural translation are part of the human cultural assets to assign meaning and order to the flow of life, the path that binds people and makes social life possible in the presence of Others. The article hypothesis is that an interlaced approach should bind plants and people as artefacts and authors of cultural translation, considering the possibility that local practices are being converted/translated into national performances. In this context, the role of the translator is at stake, particularly if considered the manipulative process, which any translation involves. The depicted event took place in the mountain village of Raifun in 2001, a Kemak speaking village in the Bobonaro mountain district. At the time, the Mane Telu House decided to stage a ceremony to bring together their relatives, absent and scattered for some years. The pretext was the rebuilding of part of the roof but the main concern was the reconciliation of all the members after the events that occurred in 1999. A ceremony was accomplished during the night inside the sacred House, joining the living ones with their ancestors. A glimpse of this ritual allows us to see betel leaves being offered, disposed on the top of several bags on the floor at the base of the main pole at the
23 “Areca and betel”: I follow here the way Jesus (2003) starts his work writing, in Tetum, instead of “Introduction”: “Bua malus”. It is noteworthy to comment the similitude of the nounsmalus (betel) and maluk (partner, relative, close own or similar), and the pronoun malu (one with the other or one to the other), Costa (2001). Dores (1907: 162) spells:Malos and Malo. I am grateful for Paulo Seixas comments and pertinent insights and Ângela Lopes for the reading of the English version. 24 I follow here Friedberg’s (1982) proposal, of writing the word House with a capital letter as a sociological entity.



entrance. Two elderly men proceeded to circulate betel leaves above the sacs and behind the main pole. A large pig was sacrificed and his entrails were read. Its flesh and bones were cooked and rice and meat were shared among all. In the morning, a catholic priest arrived and a mess was held beneath the rafters of the house. Another small pig was sacrificed and its blood, mixed with coconut water, was sprinkled on the participants, namely the young ones, by an elder, positioned at a small altar, amid expressions of rejoice, followed by a sprinkling around the house. We departed afterwards but the members of the family remained, discussing the preparation of the complete rebuilding of the house, a project to be fulfilled in five years’ time. The obligations of each household towards this major task was decided, namely the monetary contribution of each. Going back to the description one can grasp the course of this paper: the revealing role of offering betel and areca, mixed with lime, in order to produce the quid, entailing and mediating a formal acceptance of a stranger into the event and, particularly, to cross the threshold of the sacred House in ritual context25. It was, as commented, the beginning of a relationship, of a bound (exposed by offering and sharing, an act performed publicly, of a substance that reveals itself in the body - the red teeth and mouth26), intermingled with conversation and disclosure of one’s intent and emotions at the front of the house. To talk and rest are counterparts of this process of communication and ultimately the path to enter the sacred House. The process of arriving, sharing betel, areca and lime, transforming it into the quid, resting and talking is a pathway, a cultural translation, not only of communion, but also of communication, in this case, of circumstantial outsiders to an inside realm. Following Weiner’s (1992) proposal, an adaptation of this approach could be termed as becoming-while-sharing27.

The paper is prepared in the framework of the proposal put forward by the research project Translating Culture, Culture of Translation: cultural negotiation as core heritage in Timor-Leste28:
25 I had the opportunity to enter sacred houses after this episode without the formal consumption of betel and areca, but in these cases usually no ritual was underway. The very opposite occurred several times during fieldwork. 26 The persistence of betel chewing is also a resistance practice, a subject that is still far from being studied. Associated with local, backwardness, it’s also a mark of “gentiu” beliefs. At a local church, one particular priest would observe the attendants mouth before giving them the wafer at mass proceedings. Another priest told me that his parishioners of a remote parish would turn to betel and areca chewing, and other rituals, after leaving mass. 27 This article is based on data collected during ethnographic fieldwork made during my PhD research in August 2003; August 2004 and the field year September 2005 to August 2006 (sponsored by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian small grant and Fundação Oriente small grant and PhD scholarship), and a three week journey to East Timor in 2010 (sponsored by the project Translating Culture, Culture of Translation: cultural negotiation as core heritage in Timor-Leste), along with bibliographic research and internet research concerning events occurring in East Timor in recent years. The bulk of the data come from Bobonaro district area among Kemak speaking communities and, particularly, Bunak ones - the centre of my PhD research (Sousa, 2010). 28 I joined this project in December 2008 until August 2010.



“The perspective proposed here is that, for one side, culture as to be understood in the dialectic translation in which each actor is an author between enculturation and acculturation, tradition and modernity and, on the other side, that translation should be understood as communicative action, profoundly socio-culturally contextualized.” (Seixas, 2008: 2). In his article, Seixas (2009a) refers to culture as a continuous translation process, with its centrality emerging at the linguistic, social and cultural domains. Space and time need also to be considered as the translation may involve territory(ies) and memory(ies). In the EastTimorese context, a “Babel” centre for excellence and pivotal area of research, the “othering” of others is a long term process, namely: Malai; Belo-Tetum; Portuguese, Indonesia; UN. East Timor is now coming to terms with itself, obliged to reconsider colonial and post-colonial influences as a continuous challenge both to communication among the ethnolinguistics diversity and to the security of the new country. Analysing the translating of small scale events and interactions to large scale national procedures is also an effort envisaged in the mainframe of the research effort: “(...) nation building as a social identity in the process should be approached as a broad brokerage process in which translation mechanisms (what is tradition, what they stand for and which of them) are themselves at stake.” (Seixas, 2009b: 67) The possibility and the need to communicate, translating concepts in the socio-political arena crosscut by east-timorese cultural diversity, is a complex process. In this framework the role assigned to the translator demands further analysis. ¬¬ Timor alterity has for a long time been translated to the outside world by others: voyagers, colonial authorities, anthropologists, the same development occurring inside its societies and cultures during the same period and even today, although in new ways. Several authors have discussed the issue: Traube (1986), Hohe (2001) and Seixas (2010) through the recurrent myth of the younger versus the elder brother, and the pivotal role assigned to each. In this analysis it is important to retain the substantive change occurred in translation studies from the perspective of translation as a process of “equivalences” to one envisaging interpretations (Lima, 2010), particularly the developments towards the role assigned to the translator as an author. At this point, the issue of manipulation of the text is a paramount feature, namely through “Manipulation School” works (Lima, 2010). The fact that admitted manipulation occurs is tantamount to the fact that the translator as an author is not an impartial position but an active one in the process. This political circumstance is essential to understand the possibility of cultural translation. What is the role of the translator in cultural translation, and particularly the cultural translation at stage in East Timor? As discussed elsewhere (Sousa, 2009), at the local level the claiming for a role is a consistent effort to translate local aspirations to national ones, mainly in the perceived context of deprivation towards the others (now, the role usually assigned to the younger brother, in some versions of the myth, it is performed by the east Timorese elite at Dili). This outcome can be understood as part of the citizenship building process and political participation, addressing to people’s needs, eager to participate in the ongoing re(creation) of the nation. Nevertheless, as in any other context, manipulation is



present and made by the actors, either they are local or national ones. The problem arises in the misconceptions that subsisted with the role that is assigned to each. As discussed in another article (Sousa, 2009) the legitimating of local “traditional” actors’ role in national arena is fairly distressed, lacking authority and power, which are at the hands of the State and the Church. One example of such link is made by Foster (2002) discussing the role of “betel nut” chewing, analysing the theme of resistance of betel consumption during the recent history in Papua New Guinea, opposing an indigenous identity versus a European one. The ambivalence of its practice is still present to state officials. Nevertheless, it’s significant that, in recent years, the opposition between the quid and beer drinking as lead the first to be seen as a “civilized” behaviour, considering beer consumption a pathology reflecting an externally imposed ‘modernization’ The importance of this plant is so huge that it is part of the 124 items in the basket of goods and services used to determine the national consumer price index. In the context of ritual, Friedberg (1980) describes betel and food as “material supports of relationships”, essential to maintain the flow of life. These are associated with the plants and animals that are used in specific socio-ritual contexts and that are of mandatory use in order to establish links both among humans and between these and the other beings. These elements are particularly important to analyse “the form and rate of flow of its material context” (Fox, 1980: 18), which need to be addressed in order to understand the societies being studied, namely in the context of the “ritual attractors” that are present at the houses (but also in another focal spaces). Seixas (2009a) notion of “translation artefacts” may be at hand as an operational concept to manipulate the interaction between these material supports, their topologies and translators. The article intends to present clues for further research concerning the cultural-political practices of these non-verbal practices of sociability; social status recognition; resilience and identity, both at the grassroots levels and national ones, considering them as possibilities to readdress uneven conditions as perceived by locals. The need to empower all the participants in the continuous translation of the nation, assures them that admitted manipulation is balanced with recognition and legitimacy.

- Mama lai! Chew (betel and areca)! is a phrase often heard in East Timor, implying in it assertiveness, an invitation to share betel and areca29. The mama is at the same time the substantive of the quid and also, as a verb, the act of chewing it. In 1961, Sá commented on this practice in the ‘Portuguese Timor’:

29 Such interpellation is found elsewhere; see, for example, the case of Bhutan, studied by Pommaret (s.d).



“(...) with the betel leaves (malus) used as container, and the dried fruits of the areca tree (bua), as the main ingredients of the concoction, the natives make their favourite chewing (mama), something like, for us, a round green and raw ball, seasoned with lime, pepper and flavours, enjoyed by the native as an astringent and lye chewing gum, that they claim to give good breath, strength their teeth’s, comfort the stomach and deceive hunger.” (1961: 120-121). The chewing of betel leaves and areca nuts, sprinkled with a bit of lime, is broadly dispersed both in mainland and insular South-East Asia (Rooney, 1995). The betel quid is composed of the three ingredients and they are an overwhelming presence as selling articles in every East-Timorese market. Other ingredients may be added to the mixture (as Sá noted), but in East-Timor the main ingredients are the three components mentioned, although some people, particularly elder ones, like to mix a little of tobacco. Following Rooney (1995), the areca nut is a seed of the Areca catechu, of the palm family. It is fairly oval and around five centimetres long at maturity. In its earliest stage it is green and soft with a smooth exterior, which gradually turns yellowish to brownish with a rough, fibrous husk when it hardens. The young nut is juicy and sweet-tasting while the mature one is bitter and savoury. The betel leaf is from the vine of the Piper betel pepper plant. The leaf itself is broad, six to ten centimetres, with defined points and a prominent central vein. The third ingredient, lime, is obtained from various sources and turned into a powder (calcium oxide) that is mixed with water to a paste-like consistency (calcium hydroxide) to make it suitable for chewing. Two ways of obtaining lime are used locally: the one obtained from limestone chalk and the other from sea shells, molluscs and coral. The presentation of the elements, or artefacts of translation, need to be looked upon at their symbolic and social dimension. The plants represent more, and different layers of knowledge about them may be found. This entails the recognition that, like particular words in myths (as mechanisms of translations, following Seixas, 2009a), betel and areca and lime are manipulated by those that possess knowledge of its exegeses, particularly in ritual contexts. The social use of these plants is fairly commented by authors in the area. Ellen (1991), writing on the Nualu, describe the social uses of the chewing and its role as sharing device: “(...) is therefore quintessentially both a required ingredient of, and therefore a metaphor for, sharing.”(1991:108). As the author explains: “Chewing the betel quid is quintessentially part of the humdrum of ordinary Nuaulu life, one of the “obviousnesses” around which social interaction is structured. Paradoxically, it is this obviousness which makes it such a powerful symbol and elevates it above the ordinary. Because it is so commonplace, and because it is constantly passing between persons, it serves to express shared communion”. (1991: 112) Rooney (1995) remarks its usage for health issues, spirits and the symbolism of betel and sexual relations. Ellen scrutinises its many social uses in divination, curing, offerings and its



consumption as a “ritual marker”. As the author comments on the initiation rituals, the betel is a marker of social relations that continues through the life-circle: “In both male and female initiation ceremonies, neophytes are denied betel while in ritual seclusion or in a liminal condition, but are ostentatiously reintegrated into social life by being administered betel under ceremonial conditions, in a way which enforces clan and clan section interdependence, and highlights the sharing involved in taking betel. In male rituals, for example, betel passes not between clan sections, but between clans, and the relationship established between officiant and neophyte (mon’te) is one which continues throughout life, is reproduced in subsequent generations, and parallels the ideal symmetric movement of women between clans”. (Ellen, 1991:113) The sharing of the quid, its communion, is therefore a basic element of communication. As Clamagirand (2000) reveals on her comparative article among the Ema (Kemak) and the Wewewa, the reception of a guest with betel and areca is the basis for exchange, to assume a contract, namely in the context of marriages negotiations, in which the betel and areca are used to share but also as in place of something else, namely a person. The constant property of betel and areca is, for the author, the ability to materialize a relation: among the Wewewa “(...) le partage du bétel et de l`arec apparaît comme le geste qui précède toute communication (...) the gift of betel and areca and its acceptance are indispensable to open any dialogue.” (2000: 124). To refuse is to state a claim that certain preconditions are not solved. “(...) les dons et les échanges entre preneurs et donneurs de femmes, le flux orienté de biens e de nourriture dont participent le bétel et l`arec, assurent la circulation du flux de la vie. La continuité de ces échanges est la condition d`une pérennité du lien social comme de la vie en général.” (2000: 124) The author analyses the social bounds, the mediation with the invisible and the identification with the personae. Following Jordaan and Niehof’s (1988) study on Indonesia, the betel and areca are associated with feminine and masculine traits respectively, although this gender attribution is variable (the Nuallu, as reported by Ellen, are such a case). The social role among persons is a paramount feature of betel and areca chewing30. Betel and areca can have a concrete use and a metaphorical one; being part of the exchange practices, the ways that humans are described in the ritual narratives, like the young women and, particularly, sexual relations or interdictions. One important reference made by Clamagirand concerns the notion of the betel and areca as a sign of the appropriation and separation of participants, the living ones and the dead ones (ancestors), of objects as well as of space and time.

30 Berthe (1959) relates several traditional verses that make allusion to the social bound but also to the interpersonal context of the betel and areca in the relations between genders, namely in courtship or between playmates Cinatti (1996) also uses the betel and areca motives in some of its poems.



This is seen in the role that betel and areca play in the life-cycle of the individual, namely through the associated objects, like the bag. The bags and baskets, masculine and feminine, and the other paraphernalia used in the chewing process are of symbolic importance as translations artifacts in the role that they assume as part of individuals’ lives. These objects are, as Hoskins (1998) stated, biographical objects. These can be used even to replace the person’s body, like in Geinaert observations: “The first stage of the ritual is dedicated to the reconstruction of the body (tau) of the deceased. This is done on the eve of Pogo nauta, in the male part of the house, a room where guests are allowed. Public activities never take place in the female part of the house. If clothes or other belongings of the victim are available, they must be brought into the room. In the case of a man, his head-dress, loincloth, broadblade knife and his betelnut bag represent his body. For a woman, the items are the same, except for the headdress.” (Geirnaert, 1989: 454) In line of the translation paradigms depicted earlier, it has to be considered the fact that they are also subjects of manipulation. As witnessed, the possession of a deceased bag allows the keeper, and his family, to stretch his will on the relatives (but it can also be a burden). The offering of betel and areca is fundamental in any ritual and the authors writing about East Timor present concrete examples of it (Barros, 1975 and Hicks, 2004). Offering is essential for the two parties involved; it is part of the protocol and it can be sanctioned if the performance fails. The betel and areca offerings are also essential in consecrating the House and addressing the ancestors. Cunningham (1964:55) states “(…) the alliance (affinal or political), the movement of gifts, and mutual visits are inseparable, as are the reception of guests in a house, their seating at designated places, and the passing of betel-nut.” These movements can be seen also in other punctual rituals (Barraud, 1990) or community rituals, as Friedberg (1989: 553) relates in the case of the hunting rituals: “In the evening of the first day of the hunt, the game is brought to the village, where it is welcomed by a woman of the house of the ‘Lord of the Seeds’ with betel, as one welcomes a guest”. A last comment on the chewing of betel and areca concerns the visibility of its practice in the body. As a result of its consumption the teeth are red and this mark, particularly in elderly people, is a permanent one. This dimension is yet to be studied as a cultural resistance process that translates a will to maintain its practices. Butterworth (2009), analysing a Florenese village, comments that the hero is depicted as Ata higi mitan, which: “(...) literally means ‘people with black teeth’. The extended form is ata higi mitan here meran which means ‘people with black, yellow and red teeth’. This phrase refers to the fact that humans are creatures who smoke tobacco and chew betel and areca quids. By smoking and chewing people are distinct from lesser creatures (for example, pigs are said to have white teeth), and are thus ‘wise’.” (2009:190) The question, and quest, of identity, in confront with modernity, is a subject that would take another article on its own. But, from the observations made, this is a particular front



line of frontier demarcation. Health issues were commented by health workers concerned about the abuse of the quid (and particularly the spit practice – that can mask other health problems, like tuberculosis). On the religious’ hand, the consumption of betel and areca is associated by some as marks of “gentiu” practices. In a particular church, and a particular priest, the mouths of the mass attendants were scrutinised and if not considered proper they would be denied the wafer. One priest commented that, after the mass, the parish members would return to their chewing and ritual practices. There are, however, different interpretations on the issue. As I witnessed in a ritual performed in Ainaro, the return of two brothers, both priests and their sister, a nun, was made in the sacred house of the family. A ritual meal was punctuated with the chewing of betel and areca. The translation of this practice and other “traditional” rituals by the church is a challenge to the ongoing process of evangelisation of the converted (see the interview of Bishop Basílio do Nascimento with Mendes and Corbel (2004)31.

In Bunak betel is molo and areca is spelled pu. The lime is hau, like in Tetun. The betel and areca were claimed as heritage from the mother sun and father moon by the first humans. And its usage at first encounters among the ancestors in their path is constant (Berthe, 1972). In the Bunak cosmology the betel and areca are considered as the first vegetal element to appear in the world, born from a couple: Kolo Bos, the betel mother, and Kili Berek, the areca tree father (Friedberg, 1980: 500). In fact, they are considered as the fathers of the vegetable world. In Tapo, the betel line is present at the first field, it is where the bird-women, Kaka Nase-Bau, stands and was caught by the hero Mau Sirak Mali Sirak, his future husband (Sousa, 2010). Commenting on the symbolic signification of the quid, Friedberg explains: “(...) par delà sa signification symbolique appliqué aux éléments végétaux, il y a celle qui est liée à la vie sociale er rituelle : la chique de bétel composée de trois éléments dont deux s`opposent et le troisième unit, est le

31 The symbolic use of betel and areca was classified by some as a wafer, like the catholic one. A comment in the web reveals such a case, by Pe. Chico Moser:“... accept, both, this betel leaves, take, you two, this slices of areca, so that the breath and breeze penetrate both...”(traditional ritual in Timor). In a post the Priest comment on the red mouths: 3. Red mouths. At the free markets or ‘bazares’, to endure the long hours of work and wait, women and men work and chat. Meanwhile, they chew a cocktail of lye, areca nuts, wrapped in betel leaves: ahu (lime), betel leaves (malus) and areca nuts (bua). To chew the areca nut is one of the most ancient’s costumes of Asian Peoples. This exercise allows the energy to endure till the end of the day. But, the ritual also possesses social and cultural reasons. To chew the betel nut (sic) is to define the belonging to the adult world of maturity. The betel nut represents the generative strength of the women, the areca fruit the vital strength of the man, the lime, and the seed of reproduction. The process of chewing provokes an abundant reed quid. It is believed that to spit the saliva is like turning back to hearth the blood from the childbirth. To offer betel nut to a traveler is like saying “welcome/ welcome to our party”. ‘Chew’ betel gives a sweet inebriation, who knows a memory of remote pre-historic journeys. Brother, do not refuse the offer of betel! Source:



symbole de l`association, et aucun rapport entre les êtres ne peut s`établir sans elle. « (1980: 501) Another explanation emphasizes the role of betel and areca as brokers of relations with the earth. One story32 recalls that one of the first couples had one son. But the son died and they needed to bury him. However, at that time, the earth still talked and whenever they tried to dig a hole on her, she complained. The only way that they had to appease the earth was to give her betel. She then allowed the body to be buried. Questioning the origin of these plants, betel and areca, they were described esoterically as molo raidol pu likosaen, and it was said that they had come straight from the sky. As for the hau, it was described as a “miracle” made by the people. In this interpretation it’s possible to link the heavenly origin of the betel and areca with the more earthly source of lime33. The betel and areca quid have also an interesting link to gold in the Bunak myths. The hero Mau Ipi Gulo` (or Mau Gulo`) uses the quid, red as gold, to forge the wood arrow that he uses to replace the gold from the wound of the bird king, the father of the orange women (Berthe, 1972; Friedberg; 1982; Sousa, 2010). Like in other examples given before, there is an association of betel with the feminine and of the areca with the masculine. Another one is the association of the betel with the sun and the areca with the moon. However, this is not a constant trait as several informants present different comments on the issue. Of particular importance to the analyses is the use of these plants as markers of socio-political status in ritual context. As we have seen from the example presented at the beginning, sharing the betel leaves and areca nuts, to chewing then with others, resting and talking – acknowledging of one’s intentions and persona – is considered the proper way to start a relationship. It is also a precondition to enter the House, particularly if ritual practice is being carried. The role of molo and pu is unique. As commented on elsewhere, the quid is part of daily life and interpersonal interaction. The sharing of betel and areca is common, and there is an expectation that, at arrival, it should be given to you, either from your personal bag or the basket that every women usually has at home34. Typically each person uses his/her own lime, carrying it in the personal bag, the kaluk. The bag is part of the person35 and also his/ her own substitute, particularly at the time of death and the associated rituals. The betel leaf is subject to reservations: the major leaf (sikal) is considered the correct one to chew, while the small one (sis) is considered as the proper one to be used in war ceremonies (besi gie).

32 Story collected in 2010 with matas Moisés, House Pietaz, Malilait – Bobonaro. 33 A brief commentary, obtained some years ago “translates” the uses molo, pu and hau has a “Trindade”, the Catholic trinity, being the hau considered the “holy spirit” (due to his witness, not dirty) and the reed of the quid the blood of Good. 34 During my fieldwork I bought my own basket to put on the table, with betel and areca, as well as tobacco. Every Friday, male merchants from the Lolotoe area coming with betel to Saturday market at Bobonaro were anxiously awaited on the road. 35 In 2004, a small ceremony was performed on my behalf. The matas of the House filled my bag with betel leaves and areca and a chicken was sacrificed.



The role of betel and areca is essential, either in health problems, divination processes or particularly in ritual context. Some brief examples will be drawn from ethnography data in order to highlight the role and significance of the leaf, the nut and the lime, particularly in the context of communion and communication. The hau is used in several circumstances for health treatment, namely for particular headaches, in which it is blown over the person’s head. A recurrent use of the hau is the hau gone or hau akat – to measure with the lime, a divination process performed when a bad dream occurred. In this process the arm is considered like a ladder, climbed with the help of the thumb and the middle finger of the opposite hand from the inner elbow to the tip of the middle finger (the upper world, separated from the earth). The hau is put on the base of the inner elbow and on the finger to mark the steps made to climb the forearm and the palm of the hand, considered as a bad omen. The prayer36 that accompanies the act states:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. hot o hul pan o mug pan ukat oen no mug lae uen no lete sa pel lo malas sa logen o sae sa loi ni` debel sa loi ni` ini na zie konta menal aoli ini na sae `on pi `on ini na giral pisi ini na epal lel ini na tie gut ini na mogo mo gon Sun and moon sky and earth The sky and the earth are one step apart The stairs are broken It is not possible to climb You will tell You will climb and reach You will see and hear clearly You are at the chicken egg you are at the arm of the sea foam

36 This prayer was given by Eusébio in 2006, a young, but renowned practitioner of this divination process.



Photo 1. Kaluk gol gini : “to prepare the small bags” at a House ritual. The betel leaves are inside the bags and at the top. Every women and men assembled their bags (or wallets). Rice, wine and pork meat is offered. Tapo, 2003. CULTURE AS/IN TRANSLATION


The use of the betel and areca to receive a guest is also common. In the spatial organization of the house a particular spot at its front is used as malu mit golo` - the place for the ally to seat (to rest and wait before entering the house). Whenever a new house is built, or when an old one is renewed, the ritual of hima gol matag – to put the new pole (the male and female poles, central to the House) - the malu mit golo receives, as(ou at?) each pole, a basket containing particular plants and an egg, elements that ensure freshness, as well as betel and areca. In the marriage process the man’s side gift of betel and areca to the bride`s family (molo pu atama – to bring betel and areca) is considered the proper way to start the negotiations towards the constitution of the new couple. The counter gift is considered as a sign of acceptance and of continuing the process. In personal rituals or House rituals the molo pu ebel or molo lai – to put down the betel and areca - is a first step that precedes any meal. In fact, almost every ritual of the life cycle and also community ones, have a first major partition of betel for the attendants and the beings being addressed to at the ceremony. In the case of a house ceremony, the betel and areca are also placed in the ritual’s attractors of the house, representing the ancestors (like the masculine and feminine poles and the baskets that contain the House regalia, among others). This division precedes any distribution of food and it is made in accordance with the precedence of the ones that are attending it (along with the food and wine process the betel and areca distribution are essential). This also occurs in the rituals at the field and animal sacred places. At the end of each housewarming or renewal of a house a small ritual named kaluk gol gini – to prepare the small bag - is performed. Betel leaves and areca are putted inside the bags and at the top of the pile of bags.



Photo 2. Leru: “the pantry”. It is considered a feminine space. In every ritual of the House a leru is prepared and all the supplies brought by the several households are assembled here and kept under surveillance of women. They are also responsible for preparing the baskets with betel and areca to given to the men, the public officials. Tapo 2005. CULTURE AS/IN TRANSLATION


The distribution of betel and areca considering political status is discussed by Friedberg (1982, 610). In the Bunak area under study, the normal way to proceed is from the outside to the interior. If traditional authorities are present, the four outside rulers (the bei goni`il) are the first to receive the betel, followed by the three hima gonion, the inside rulers (house rulers). The House allies and its members are the last ones to receive. The number of betel leaves is an indicator and recognition of the status: four, three and one leaf. Nevertheless, the total number of leaves is contextually framed in the hierarchy present. In a House ceremony a matas, the head of the House, even though receiving only one leave, is considered superior. The handling of betel and areca is made by men but, like in other contexts, the betel and areca are assembled in a ceremony by women at the leru, the place organized to assemble the food and betel in any ritual ceremony of the House. In the House rituals of the cooking of rice is of extreme importance. Women play a vital role in a single, discrete but essential rite (to put a leaf beneath the basket of rice assembled).



Photo 3. Au Akat (or au gone): “to measure the arm with lime”, performed by Bei José Tilman in one early morning. 2005. CULTURE AS/IN TRANSLATION


Another major role of betel and areca is its association with the concept of path, translated from the Bunak gua. In certain ritual contexts, particularly those associated with the ritualpolitical functions of the realm, betel and areca distribution is described in the esoteric narrative path not only as a communion but also as a manifestation of precedence and hierarchy among the nobles, the dato37s: molo1 dato2 pu3 dato2 gie3 gua4 – the path4 of the3 noble2 betel1 and of the3 noble2 areca3. The title is used only in certain particular occasions, namely the death rituals of traditional authorities or the protection rituals of the domain. In these circumstances the delivery of betel and areca lists a large number of places that are considered the proper path of arrival, forming a collective identity based on the Houses (people) and space (assembled of places and other beings). The rituals of life, namely the nomination of a House head, are done in the context of the bul belis (white base). In this ritual, the trail is from the exterior to the interior. In the rituals linked with death are bul guzu (black base), the trail is from the interior to the exterior. In either case, the distribution is carefully observed by those that are present and can be subject to disputes if the proper order is not respected. The version presented here corresponds to the one preserved by the deceased bei José, from the House Namau Deu Masak.
Molo Dato bul belis gie 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Tuluata Oalgomo Mazop o Mail Lait Ai Asa Honalu Oat o Odomau Lel o Sibuni Soboai Oeleu eme gonion ama gonion dato Mone Itu dato Namau Molo Dato bul guzu gie* 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. dato Mone Itu dato Namau dato Luhan dato Opa dato Agu (Sul) dato Dato Pou (Tato Metan) dato Lokal Giral dato Tuluata Oal gomo dato Mazop o Mail Lait

10. dato Luhan 11. dato Opa 12. dato Agu 13. dato Dato Pou 14. dato Lokal Giral 15. dato Apa Pou Holsa

10. dato Oat o Odomau 11. dato Lel o Sibuni 12. mamak gonion daun gonion 13. pat o lita mamak gonion daun gonion** 14. apa Pou Holsa 15. taka kornel Mone Itu

37 This version is slightly different from the one I collected with matas Paulo Mota, the head of the House Namau Deu Masak, and main responsible for the hima gonion (the Three Houses). Matas Paulo Mota died in 2006.



16. dato Apa gemel ‘oa Pou gasai 17. taka kornel Mone Itu 18. Namau gie taka bali Luhan otol 19. Manu Gatal Deu Gonion 20. Asa Laka Dasi Lae 21. Lelo Bele Pu’ Gen 22. Lese o An Po’ 23. Ai Tula Makes 24. hola pese lulin hone 25. kota giri Taol Lua Po’ Hol Babulu 26. Mata Basin Babulu 27. Lakus o Datoi 28. Tali Asa Zo Gen 29. Ili Bole Boubet 30. Laka Til Airan 31. Leo Bara Leo Buka 32. Bitau Airan 33. Keris Bau Pan Bau 34. Mabil ‘oa Mabil Mon 35. Solo Golo Il Mot si 36. Lo’o Bau Lep Gen 37. Lelo Kou Bau Kou 38. Hulu Atin Bau Gobon 39. Bau Dato Bali Lin 40. ha’al tol Mare Gatal Mone Itu

16. Namau gie taka kornel Luhan maiol 17. Ipo gita in gilin 18. Manu Gatal Deu Gonion 19. Asa Laka Dasi Lae 20. Lelo Bele Pu’ Gen 21. Lese ‘oa An Po’ Makes 22. Mape Op Ai Tula 23. Hola Pese Lulin hone*** 24. kota na Giri Taol Lua 25. Mata Basin Babulu 26. Po’ Hol Babulu 27. Lakus o Datoi 28. Tali Asa Zo Gen 29. Ili Bole Boubet 30. Laka Til Airan 31. Leo Bara Leo Buka 32. Bitau AI ran 33. Keris Bau Pau Bau 34. Mabil ‘oa Mabil mon 35. Solu golu Il mot si 36. Lo’o Bau Lep Gen 37. Lelo Kou Baú Kou 38. Hulu Atin Bau Gobon 39. Bau Dato Bali Lin 40. ha’al tol Mare Gatal Mone Itu

1 “sai husi uma laran, mak sai” - It begins from inside the house. The house portrayed here is the community of Tapo, composed of eighteen sacred Houses. But, in the narrative only seven, de Dato ones, are indicated. 2 “mil lo sai o (iha laran remata ona), agora dato gun gene gie (dato iha liur nian)” – it leaves the inside and starts the outside nobles 3 “Dato gun gene gie teni” – the outside nobles again.
* “sai husi uma laran, mak sai” - It begins from inside the house. The house portrayed here is the community of Tapo, composed of eighteen sacred Houses. But, in the narrative only seven, de Dato ones, are indicated. ** “mil lo sai o (iha laran remata ona), agora dato gun gene gie (dato iha liur nian)” – it leaves the inside and starts the outside nobles *** “Dato gun gene gie teni” – the outside nobles again.



Other rituals take place at restricted places: the pan giral muk gug – the eye of the sky the nodule of the earth - and its performance is limited to those who have a ritual role. The examples given present the idea that betel and areca are part of a cosmological interpretation of the interaction between humans, ancestors and other beings. When such rituals take place outside the villages, betel and areca are usually replaced by kabouke (Ficus septic) leaves and fruit, a plant that can be collected and that some informants say it is also possible to chew, in case of absence of betel. Being it at the life cycle rituals or at extraordinary events the role of the betel and areca as a reception marker is paramount. An example dated from 199838 depicted the voyage of the bishop Belo from Dili to Tapo to inaugurate the new local church: Cristo Liurai. Below, the final part of the narrative to the Bishop is presented: 22. Golo gene mit oa ege molo mila gie o, pu ilin gie o. 23. Molo hot ba,a pu hot ba,a o ba,a dato juse, dato malo hot pu hot: 24. Molo esen pu en no molo gita hau oa pu gita bako oa. 25. Hau sa ja bako sa filat. 22. Your seating place is over there the people’s betel and areca is here 23. The betel sun the areca sun is there, the nobles, the noble betel sun and areca sun 24. The betel and areca have been added lime and tobacco is on top 25. Lime and tobacco are changed Other examples could be given but these highlight the relation between communion and communication, stressing the existence of a proper path that translates the local notion of the correct way of being received and enters one’s house or community. The role of the translator is, as commented, relevant: a matas, the House responsible, or the bei, an outside ruler, or any other element authorized to perform a narrative, along with the acts. Distributing the betel leaves and areca is a chance of reaffirming legitimacies but also of contesting them. Small plays, tricks, can be made. I was told in certain situations that a certain elder was “halimar” – playing –, with the holder of certain functions, delaying the distribution, waiting for their remarks – or in their silence, to prove their ignorance, thus reasserting his own authority.

At this point, I would like to focus in the possibility of extending the analysis to a macro level, considering East Timor territory and the nation, analysing clues to an understanding of the role of betel and areca as communion and its use as communication. Is it possible to translate a personal or community practice of offering to a national context?

38 Part of the heritage of the Dato Pou House and the deceased bei António Marques.



Betel and areca do not have the same iconic display as the “house” in East Timor. The House has been used since colonial times to present to convey a synthesis of identity, or a mirror for it, if one considers its use. It is part of the imagination of the nation but it was also used in Indonesian times as a symbol of integration (McWilliam, 2005). At a mythological perspective, the betel and areca precedes the house (or, at least, are concomitant with it), but as described, betel and areca chewing is of substantive relevance if we want to pass its threshold39. In this perspective it is, like a social key. The focus in the House as a representation of East Timor and its culture is supported at a governmental level, namely by the Secretary of State for Culture, as an identity icon of East Timor and a potential touristic advocate. The betel and areca seem to have, at regional and national levels, the same omnipresence, but, as stated by Ellen (1991), its obviousness made it partially unperceived. Several examples illustrate the use of ritual and traditional practices promoted by local, regional and national (State) sponsored ceremonies. Following the 1999 events, Babo-Soares (2004) presents an interesting proposal in the context of the reconciliation process between the “elite” and the “grassroots”, analysing how the various translations depend on the “translator” (victims and perpetrators) ability to allocate meaning to past acts and reinterpret them in the present and future of the community. In this process, the role of family or community reconciliation is made through the nahe biti: “Usually, such a process is finalised with the ceremonial exchange of betel nut to show sincerity and commitment”. (2004: 20). Loch (2009) also remarks that the reconciliation process included the betel chewing: “(...) a CAVR community reconciliation meeting may be organized according to modern international standards and supported by the United Nations, but it is eventually the traditional betel chewing ceremony and a juramento (oath – involving often the drinking of palm wine with blood), which reconciles the actors, and Catholic prayers frame the ceremony.” (2009: 97) In the aftermath of the 2006 crisis, State sponsored ceremonies have been performed and are still cases to be studied. Xanana Gusmão, who was the President at that time, said that he had: “(...) launched a commission to gather all the traditional elders (lia nain) of the 13 sacred houses to follow with the tradition, which - he said-has not been observed following the end of the invasion. He said he has been criticized for this but would like to follow the ancestral traditions. It is believed that the recent crisis is partly the result of not following in the tradition of putting back the swords to rest, which were taken and used as protection during the war”40.

39 As commented, arriving, resting and chewing the quid (either at the sacred house or its junior house) is the proper way to enter and start any negotiation. Only thief’s or someone with bad intentions does not act on this premise. 40 UNMIT Revista dos Media Diários: seexta-feira, 20 Outubro 2006



In December, 6th, Lusa commented on the realization of “hamulaks” at the thirteen districts and the concretization of a national “Hamulak”: “Halot Meik no Kroat” (to store the traditional weapons), promoted by Xanana Gusmão. At the same time an interesting presence of betel and areca among nation identity items appears in the first paragraph of the National Declaration of Students of East Timor, on 25th September 2006: Ba Maromak, Uma no Ahi, Bua no Malus, Foho no Tasi, Mota no Anin Lulik, Husi Jako to’o Oecusse ho Lia Ida Deit – For God, The House and the fire, Areca and Betel, Mountain and Sea, River and Sacred Wind, From Jako to Oecusse, one Word Only. 41 In the political arena there are at least two parties, the Partido Democrático (PD), and the Partido do Povo de Timor that uses a symbol that is associated with betel in their flags: a basket. The explanation of its presence in the PD is made in Seixas (2006: 333): “(...) the net and the basket are the traditional foundation of our democracy. When someone arrived or when some problem had to be solved, the elders gather around the basket, positioned at the centre. The basket usually had tobacco and corn leaves to roll, as well as betel and areca to chew, and each one would take it” Another author also comments on its use: “The PD integrated a betel-nut basket in the centre of their flag. The basket has a high symbolic value expressed in different kinds of ceremonies, as the consumption of betel-nut provides access to the supernatural world as well as creates relationships to foreigners.” (Hohe, s.d.). The reception of guests, of outsiders, is a recurrent theme and plays, as explained, a major role in local rituals practices. The recent visits, both in mountain areas and cities, made by the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão in the agenda of the popular consultation for the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), is a good example incorporating the local, regional and national levels, with the several interests at stake. A look at official news, collected from the official web site of the government allows to glimpse the way these receptions offer possibilities for local actors to address the political elite. “In the Lolotoe sub-district, Bobonaro district, on the 23rd of July “The population welcomed the Head of the Government, according to the traditional habits, which include dressing the Prime Minister with the traditional Lolotoe costume and make an appearance in the elders council.”42 In Dili, in the Dom Aleixo sub-district: “The Head of the Government’s party was welcomed by the community in the Comoro Bridge, following the traditional use and customs of that sub41 Lia Fongtil. Edisaun 1, 20 Outubro 2006 42 Lolotoe sub-district Popular Consultation about the NSDP: Wed. August 04, 15:03 h tl/?p=3545&lang=en&lang=en



district, under the sound of the São Pedro School Band, and afterwards heading to the NSDP consultation area, where bétele leaves (preparation to chew on) and lime were delivered.”43 In Maubisse, in May 16th: “The local authorities and the population welcomed the Prime Minister, offering him with the tais (traditional cloth) and, in the middle of cheering to the maun boot (older brother) of the liberation and independence of TimorLeste (...) Before the consultation session began, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão was invited by the elders to take shelter at the uma lulik (Sacred House), built in front of the Church Hall and chew betel nut leaves with areca palm fruits and lime dust, at Maubisse’s traditional way, for the receptions of important guests. After, the heirs of D. Adelino Espírito Santo offered a cane from his kingdom days, symbolizing the power to be granted in Timor-Leste at the service of its People and its Well-Being.”44 In Hatubuiliku, Ainaro District, in the 17 May: “Xanana Gusmão was welcomed with the Hatubuiliku cultural rituals. In the welcoming ceremony, the population offered the Prime Minister a horse ornamented with a Belak (ornamental disc), according to the locality tradition. With this particular reception, among applause and the tebedai (traditional dance) rhythm (...) The ancients served the Head of Government with betel leaves. This symbolic gesture can be interpreted as an attempt to involve all, “avoiding the creation of divergence because we are tired of searching for hideouts, of living in uncertainty and experience distress. We want, with all the population of Hatubuiliku, to opt for Peace”45 At Cailaco, Bobonaro Subdsitrict in the 26 July. “The prime minister and his delegation were as received by the Administrator of the Subdistrict and the population with Cailaco traditional rituals and clothes. The reception to the head of government was also made by elders that offered him betel leaves and areca nuts, following the traditional Quemac rite.”46

43 The NSDP intends to satisfy the population’s needs: Wed. September 15, 12:17h tl/?p=3839&lang=en&lang=en 44 Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, receives cane of Don Adelino in Maubisse: Mon. June 07, 16:21hhttp:// 45 The population of Hatubuiliku appreciated the NSDP: Tue. May 25, 06:36 h tl/?p=3095&lang=en&lang=en 46 Tradução do Português: PEDN, Esperança de Libertação para a Comunidade de Cailaco: Ter. Agosto 10, 12:34h



The willing of the State to accept these practices, in which it is co-translator, is also seen in other modernisation practices at a regional level. In this example the betel is not directly referred to but it can be seen in the photo that accompanies the article: “The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mariano Assanami Sabino, joined the several “lia nain” (traditional timorese authority, conflict and justice mediator, “word owner”) from five sub-districts of the Lautem district, in a cultural ceremony for the blessing of 45 tractors that were delivered to farmers at the old Central Market in Los Palos. This ceremony marked the delivery of these tractors and the beginning of their use, the blessing is a symbolic act in the sense that it helps farmers to use these machines in an efficient and effective manner, in order to reach the intended objectives. For the Minister, “the ceremony preserves tradition and is based on our culture, as the faith in God, that encourages us to work the land and to transform a piece of waste land into an arable and productive land to thus foment our independence”.47 The use of betel and areca at a ritual with nation(al) relevance can be seen in the ceremony that took place in Dili in June 2010. The event occurred at the Dili harbour, and it consisted in the reception and formal integration of the two war ships bought from China. On the first day, a ceremony was held at the Dili harbour, including a military parade, the formal speech was delivered by principal politicians, and the blessing of the ships by a catholic priest. The ceremony was attended by numerous guests, including Australian and Indonesian navy representatives. As part of the “Programa”, the protocol agenda of the ceremony, the line 11. consisted of an “Acção Ritual Tradicional” – a traditional ritual action. This action consisted in the performance of a small group of men and women dressed in with traditional clothes. The group was composed of the Liurai Tasi (the sea king, coming from Likisa) and the Liurai Rai, coming from Motael. After the formal deliverance of the ships, the group entered the square to dance in front of the guests. At the extreme of the harbour deck, between the fore of the two ships, positioned in front of each other, a mat lied on the floor. Between the two ships, a small mat was on the floor, with thirteen small baskets and two other, a male basket and a feminine basket, with betel and areca. After the dance, several of the politicians present, led by President Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, took each one of the baskets and poured its content at the sea. The baskets represented the East Timor districts. I was told that they were representations of each district, and all together, the country was explained as a whole. And they represented the endorsement for the ceremony being held. This was the view of the organiser and leader of the group. Nonetheless, the inferences that could be made, the role of traditional rituals in official ceremonies were unnoticed in the State news.48
47 Tractor Blessing Cultural Ceremony: Mon. Outubro 11, 12:33h, &lang=en 48 Patrol Vessels were delivered and baptized: Tue. June 15, 00:09 h



Rai Timur foin nalo malus tahan bua baluk The island of Timor resembles the betel leaves, the areca sprout

Can a plant like betel and areca translate the people or the nation of East Timor? Further research has to be done in order to analyze its use. Nevertheless, obliviousness seems to prevail, as we understand the role of these plants. Basílio de Sá (1961) presents seven “legends” from the oral tradition of Timor in his book. The first contains the renowned myth of the origin of the island and its first inhabitant: respectively the crocodile and the young boy who rides on his back. However, the most interesting feature of the legend presented by the author is its title (above). Nowhere in the story there is a reference to this unforeseen title; in fact, betel and areca are absent references in the text. The author explains the translation of the title, adding that, by free speech it could be translated has “The beginning of Timor resembles the betel leaves and areca sprouts” (1961: 120). Sá explains that from this description “Timor begins from almost nothing, like the tree leaves, like the sprig” comparing the Timorese example to the biblical: “the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard” (Mateus, 13-31). It’s surprising, or not, that such remarkable suggestion of beginning seems to be overlooked by all. Their immateriality, following UNESCO’s terminology, also reminds us that any material culture needs to be addressed to along with their human counterpart. The resilience of this practice, the interpersonal, socio-cultural values and emotional attachment reveals a core centre at the construction of the identity that needs for further understanding of its many metaphors at local and national level. Like the sacred house, the comprehension these material artifacts and they contexts of use, needs to integrate an interlaced approach to the translation of traditions as practices of citizenship, and in this meaning, of national imagination – a process that cannot end with independence. Do national actors, national authors - translators (manipulators) use tradition only as decorative scenario in State sponsored apparatus? Only further research can analyse the role of vitality and emotion attached to each actor-author-translator in the construction of paths along East Timor rich cultural diversity.




When Fauconnier (1994) began to elaborate on his Mental Space Theory, it was meant firstly as a tool for the semantic analysis of text on the sentence level. Palmer (1996) arrived at the conclusion in his Toward a Cultural Linguistics that Mental Space Theory among other cognitive linguistic theories could finally bridge the disciplinary gap between linguistics and anthropology. Several years later, literature scholars like Danzygier (2006) showed how this initially linguistics-oriented theory could be used in literature studies. Albeit it that she observes that Mental Space Theory is certainly not generally acknowledged as a valid theory among literature scholars yet, her exposé clearly shows how this theory links two originally closely related disciplines that drifted away from each other through time. Coulson and Oakley (2000, p. 176) explain that Mental Space Theory locates meaning in mental representations of speakers. Taylor (2002, p. 590) defines it as ‘[a] conceived situation, populated with elements and relations between them’. The relations between these elements, and the elements themselves, are understood through cognitive models and long-term memory. Turner’s (1996) The Literary Mind elaborates eloquently how the human mind can link to mental spaces through a process dubbed ‘parable’. The distinctive elements in two separate input spaces are recognized by the speech participants as being related by means of features that are present on the elements in both spaces and as such constitute a so-called ‘generic space’ on their own. The process that is usually discussed in studies using Mental Space Theory is ‘blending’. This term refers to the phenomenon in which features that
49 The research underlying the present paper has been conducted in the framework of the Fataluku Language Project (2005-2009) lodged at Leiden University, funded by The Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (grant no. 256-70-560 in the Endangered Languages Program), the project Traduzindo a Cultura, Cultura da Tradução: a negociação cultural como património central em Timor-Leste (2006-2010), lodged at Universidade Fernando Pessoa in Porto, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (grant no. PTDC/ANT/81065/2006) and the project Becoming a nation of readers in Timor-Leste: Language Policy and adult literacy in a multilingual context (2009-2012), lodged at Tilburg University, funded by NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development (file number W 01.65.315.00). Parts of this paper have been presented on the IV Congresso da Associação Portuguesa de Antropologia, September 9th -11th , 2009, Lisbon, Portugal and the 8th Folklore Fellows Summer School, Lammi, Finland, August 2nd-9th, 2010. I wish to thank the following persons for their valuable input: Nicole Revel (National Centre of Scientific Research, Paris), Celso da Fonseca (Korea University, Seoul), Maarten Kossmann (Leiden University) and Paulo Castro Seixas (Technical University of Lisbon). Of course, I am the only one to blame for the quality of and the conclusions made in this paper.



are exclusive to the individual input spaces are combined in a new blended space. This is exemplified in Figure 1 about Joost the Butler, one of the characters in the famous Dutch comics series of Tom Poes by Marten Toonder.

FIG. 1. A BLENDED SPACE OF JOOST THE BUTLER Joost is in fact a blend between a human figure, a butler (from which the Joost space inherits the butler jacket) and a Labrador Retriever (from which Joost inherits the dog’s snout). Otherwise formulated, Joost is a dog that works as a butler and because of that shows all paraphernalia of a butler. Notwithstanding Danzyigier’s (2006) confirmation of the merit of Mental Space Theory for literary studies does Brandt (2005) convincingly show its apparent weaknesses as a semiotic theory. We agree that a theory of blending only has explanatory force if in the so-called semiotic space in which the speech participants communicate the phenomenal world of the latter is taken into consideration. As such it is the quality of loyalty, which in Dutch culture is considered to be a common feature that dogs and butlers share, that establishes the generic space through which the input spaces of dog and butler can be parabolically linked. In 1987 Sweeney observed in Malay storytelling that a narrative in fact is a set of fixed storylines or ‘narrative chunks’. In every performance these ‘chunks’ could be combined differently, leading up to different narratives. Later on, Engelenhoven (2004) uses the concept of ‘narrative chunk’ to analyze names in Southwest Malukan tales as epitomes of storylines. Here, names and songs function as landmarks with which the audience can track the tale in narrative time and assess the latter’s truth value, respectively.



The characteristics of ‘narrative chunks’ and names in Malay and Southwest Malukan storytelling appear to confirm the existence of a topology of narratives as it was suggested by Steiner (1998, p. 448).50 Seixas (2008b, 2010) finally elaborates on Steiner’s theorem in his finding of translational phenomena between Timorese cultures. According to Seixas (2010), certain narrative motifs, ‘figures’ in his terminology, for example ‘brother’ and ‘book’, can function as elements that enable translation. In this paper we will refer to this type of motifs as ‘narrative artifacts’. We intend in this paper to apply Turner’s (1996) idea of ‘parable’ in combination with Steiner’s (2009, p. 448) ‘topology’ to the hermeneutics of storytelling in the sub district of Tutuala (East-Timor) and the regency of Southwest Maluku (Indonesia).

Insular Southeast Asia lodges three big nations: the Philippines and Malaysia in the North and Indonesia in the South. Additionally, there are three other small countries: Singapore off the extreme end of the Malay peninsula, Brunei Darussalam between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo Island and Timor-Leste at the eastern half of the island of Timor, the easternmost island of the Greater Sunda Islands group. In this paper we focus on Tutuala sub district in Lautem, the easternmost district in TimorLeste, and on the bordering regency of Southwest Maluku, which is in the Indonesian province of Maluku. Whereas Tutuala is part of a larger region on one island, Southwest Maluku regency consists of about fifteen islands. Both Tutuala district and most islands in Southwest Maluku used to be part of the Nuspaikra-Rapïatatra economical network (Engelenhoven, 2010a). Nowaydays the network appears to be confined to the islands of Kisar, Roma, Leti, Moa, Lakor, Luang, Wetan, and Babar. This area lodges two language families. The majority of languages belongs to the so-called Luangic-Kisaric branch of the Austronesian Timorese languages (Engelenhoven, 2009) and the Babaric branch of Central Malayo-Polynesian (Taber, 1993).51 A minority of two languages, Fataluku in Lautem District and Oirata on Kisar Island, belong to the non-Austronesian Timor-Alor-Pantar group that has been classified as part of the Trans-New Guinea Phylum (Engelenhoven, Huber and Schapper forthcoming). From the sociolinguistic perspective Tutuala sub district is quite different from the islands in Southwest Maluku where many islands lodge at least two language communities. For
50 Actually, Steiner used the term ‘topology’ to describe the variability of form in culture by pointing at ‘[t]he invariants or constants underlying the manifold shapes of expression in our culture’. In fact, Steiner projects the phenomenon of translation between texts on to the phenomenon of translation between cultures. 51 The proposal of a Central Malayo-Polynesian subgroup has been convincingly refuted by several people (Hull, 1998; Donohue and Grimes, 2008). Since it is beyond the topic of this paper we maintain Taber’s (1993) assessment here.



example, on Kisar Island two languages are spoken, Non-Austronesian Oirata in the South and Austronesian Meher everywhere else. Babar Island stands out among all Southwest Malukan islands in that there at least four or six Austronesian languages are spoken there, depending on one’s definition of dialect versus language (Steinhauer, 2009). Local folklore has it that the entire Lautem district once displayed a language map that was comparable to the one in Southwest Maluku, but that after centuries of warfare the language spoken by the winning clan, Fataluku (meaning: the correct language) was imposed on all other clans in the district who had to abandon their ancestral language. Due to the bad infrastructure between Lospalos sub district and Tutuala sub district, the original language of the latter, Makuva (an old Fataluku exonym meaning ‘idiot’), managed to survive into the sixties of the 20th century after which it was eventually replaced by Fataluku (Engelenhoven, 2010d). A quick glance suggests that the islands and Tutuala sub district use the same societal make-up. Throughout the region social organization is based on descent and the status of clans that is determined on historical events. Whereas throughout the region separate clan lineages are represented by separate ‘houses’ within a clan, Dijk and de Jonge (1987) show that in the Babar archipelago, the lineages are rather represented as separate rooms within one single house. Matrilineal descent nowadays seems confined to Luang Island and part of Leti Island, whereas the societies on other Southwest Malukan islands rather acknowledge patrilineal descent. In the western and eastern extremes of the region, respectively Lautem district (Gomes, 1972) and the Babar archipelago (Jonge and van Dijk, 1995), both patrilineal and matrilineal systems are used. Territorial management too is comparable throughout the region in that each domain is traditionally administered by an assembly of clans that is organized according to an often very complicated and elaborate senior-junior principle. Also oral traditions appear to be almost similar throughout the region. All languages have a special register that features extensive lexical parallelism, the paring of words. Whereas it is often proposed as a typical feature of the Austronesian languages in entire East-Nusantara52 – Fox (2005) observes it also in the non-Austronesian Bunaq language on Timor, while Engelenhoven (1997) attested it in the non-Austronesian language of Oirata on Kisar Island. Engelenhoven (2010a) compares the Fataluku lexical pairs with the Luangic-Kisaric ones and concludes that certain pairs that can be considered as ‘universal’, as for example the ones related to size and gender, are the same in both Fataluku and the Austronesian languages. Fataluku, however, seems to also have unique pairs not found in any of the other languages. A comparison of oral traditions reveals that the language communities appear to group them in comparable categories throughout the Nuspaikra-Rapïatatra region. In this paper we confine ourselves to the category of narratives, for which we adopt Straver’s (1993, pp. 43-64) typology of Malukan narratives. According to Straver, Malukan narratives are located on a sliding scale on which sacredness is the decisive factor. The audience distinguishes between highly sacred narratives that are composed of lexical parallels that are the main feature of the language’s high or ritual register. Whereas on the Southwest Malukan islands this genre (Leti: ttui) is more and more performed through storytelling (Engelenhoven, 1998), the extensive narrative poems known throughout Timor Island are still performed in Lautem
52 This term was first suggested as a cover term for both East-Indonesia and East-Timor by the Australian anthropologist Jim Fox during the East-Nusantara Linguistics Workshop the Australian National University, Canberra, in 2000.



district (Fataluku: no lolo). In both areas, it are exclusively men who perform these narratives. The less sacred the narrative is, the more often it is told by women. However, at the extremes of the scale where the narratives are most and least sacred, it are exclusively women who perform. Figure 2 below intends to picture an overall view of the storytelling setting.
Southwest Maluku private domain public domain highly sacred rahasia segredo  snïaktuvu  no lolo male performer female performer Lautem  tuni  rata lolo  tuni küèra-küasi  rata ceceni fully profane

FIG. 2. STORYTELLING SETTING IN SOUTHWEST MALUKU AND LAUTEM The grey bar in the figure represents the narration’s sacredness scale where the most sacred and fully profane narratives are located at the left-hand and right-hand sides, respectively. The outside box with the dotted line represents the Nuspaikra-Rapïatatra region with Southwest Maluku in the top and Lautem in the bottom. A dotted line also runs through the grey bar as to separate both geographical locations. The words printed in Italic above the dotted line are the Leti terms for the different kinds of narratives.53 Under the dotted line are the Fataluku terms. The figure clearly shows, albeit that the terminology differs per language, that both language communities share the same genre categories. From the figure it also becomes evident that the narrations in the public domain are typically told by men, and the ones in the private domain are typically told by women. Engelenhoven (2004) observes, however, that the ‘nonsensical narratives’ (tuni küèra-küasi) in Leti are also used by older men and children in storytelling contests where the winner told the most fantastic story without becoming incredible. The Fataluku counterpart in Lautem, rata ceceni (‘tale bathing’), however, has only been attested as exclusively told by women. Interestingly, both language communities appear to use a foreign rather than an indigenous word for the most sacred narrative: the secret (in Southwest Maluku the Indonesian word rahasia, in Lautem the Portuguese word segredo).54 In fact, this type of narrative arises from the private – more or less secretive - exegesis of a public performance of sacred narratives (labeled snïaktuvu in Leti or no lolo ‘telling about ancient times’ in Fataluku, respectively) where the exegete again is a woman, typically of old age.
53 Since the terminology may differ per language in Southwest Maluku, we use Engelenhoven’s (1998) strategy to use the Leti one as a common denominator for all languages found there. 54 Secrecy is an important element in all cultures of the region. It is therefore interesting to see that at least in the Leti and Fataluku lexicons there is no single word to refer to the concept of ‘secret’, but that it needs to be circumscribed either as ‘something hiding itself’ (Leti: sulsula) or as ‘something concealed’ (Fataluku: oroma’inu).



Although we promised to confine ourselves to narratives in this paper, some asides about songs need to be made. Engelenhoven (2010c) distinguishes six subtypes of songs on Leti, which we consider to be representative for entire Southwest Maluku, although further research is required to confirm this. The Fataluku Online dictionary also lists six words that are translated as ‘singing’, but for the time being it remains unclear which words represent song types and which ones do not. The genre that matters to us in this paper is called tïatki in Leti and vaihoho in Fataluku. Engelenhoven (1998) explains that tïatki summarize part of a narration and are used by the audience as evidence of the narrated truth. Consequently, this type of song is a distich that – although composed out of lexical parallels, is in daily speech in order to ensure that it is understandable for everybody in the audience. Because they summarize historical narratives, tïatki are also used as powerful tools of evidence in traditional lawsuits on most Southwest Malukan islands (Engelenhoven, 2010c). Fataluku vaihoho have a comparable function, albeit that the element of dispute described above for Leti has not been attested by us in Tutuala. These too are distichs that sometimes contain abstracts of historical narratives (see Valentim, 2004, for example). Based on Lameiras-Campagnolo’s and Campagnolo’s (1979) account on Fataluku oral traditions, it seems that Leti tïatki and Fataluku vaihoho are scanned in the same way. Sung, however, vaihoho are rather unique in the region. Vaihoho as far as we know is the only polyphonic song genre in the region. The only other location in east Nusantara where a similar, though more elaborate singing system has been attested is on East Flores and in the Solor archipelago to the North of Timor Island (Rappaport, 2010). Whereas archipelago polyphonic singing here is still widely known and performed, it has become a highly endangered art form in the entire Lautem district. During the Fataluku Language Project (2005-2009), three elderly women were met in Mehara village in Tutuala sub district, who were acknowledged as the last ones still knowing how to sing vaihoho. It remains to be researched, however, in how far these reports reflect reality. A 2009 tape recorded in Tutuala on behalf of the author of this paper not only contained vaihoho scanning, but also polyphonic singing. Upon request, however, people appeared generally reluctant to perform polyphonic singing. It is therefore very good possible that this feeling of being ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘ashamed’ as it generally described, is more an expression of culture concealment, one of the Southwest Malukan features that Engelenhoven and Hajek (2000) pinpointed in Tutuala.55 In Southwest Maluku narratives, whether they be sacred or profane, storytelling is still frequently interspersed by singing. In Lautem district, however, this appears to have become obsolete and was attested only in the performances of two female storytellers in the Lospalos and Tutuala sub districts, respectively. One explanation for this difference may be that, whereas in Lautem there still is a living tradition of chanting sacred narratives (no lolo), in Southwest Maluku sacred narratives are told rather than chanted. Telling a story,
55 Engelenhoven (2002) explains culture concealment as a typical Southwest Malukan phenomenon triggered by numerical insignificance and ethno-linguistically complex composition of the group within the Malukan exile community in The Netherlands.



however, may be a natural quality for many people. Chanting, on the other hand, requires intensive and long training. As such, a no lolo performer does not need to proof his skills. In Southwest Maluku, on the other hand, the legitimacy and quality of the performer is continuously challenged (Engelenhoven, 2008). In this context, he needs to demonstrate his oratory expertise throughout his performance.

Seixas (2010) signals that the travelling brother is a common theme56 in Indonesian narratives where the departure of a brother is often related to rivalry. If we superficially compare the narratives, the ones in the Timor region stress the return of the protagonist who brings fortune or knowledge to his native country, as for example in the Tetun and Mambai versions (Hicks, 1988; Traube, 2007). The ones in Southeast Maluku, as for the narratives of the cultural heroes Atuf and Kadeu in the Tanimbar and Kei archipelagoes, also mention the introduction of knowledge or culture with their arrival. However, at the same time they stress the foreign origin of the protagonists (Lilipaly-de Voogt, 1993, p. 23, Rahail, 2000, p. 15). So, whereas in the Southeast Malukan context, the foreign origin of the protagonists fits the theme of the ‘stranger king’ (Sahlins, 2008) being ‘installed as an ‘outsider’ inside’ (Fox, 2008), in general the Timorese narratives imply that this ‘stranger king’ actually originates from Timor. As has been explained in section 2 above, it is this highly sacred information that is transmitted through ‘secrets’ (see also figure 2). The remaining of this section compares two narratives in Fataluku in Tutuala and Leti in Southwest Maluku in which appears the cultural hero of Sorotmalai57, which translates into English as ‘the king of the book’.58 The versions reproduced here are the ones by Tutuala Ratu clan in Tutuala and Aanilviaru clan in Tutukei on Leti Island that are considered as the descendants of the original inhabitants of their territories, respectively. Seixas (2008b) explains Tutuala Ratu clan derives its high social status from its descent. This, however, rather has the opposite effect for Aanilviaru in that their aboriginal descent excludes them from the social circuit in Tutukei altogether (Engelenhoven, 2004). Both texts were produced during storytelling sessions in June 2007 (Tutuala) and November 1989 (Leti). Intrinsic to storytelling performances, the actual narrations jumped up and down through time, because the storytellers elaborated on sidetracks to the plot and then had to come back to the main storyline. Similarly, both performances were quite full with repetitions. In order to create an interpretable text for the reader of this paper, both texts have been heavily edited. Where possible repetitive text lines and text that were beyond the present topic were deleted (marked by three dots in the text). Certain paragraphs have been reordered as to safeguard a chronological storyline for
56 He actually uses the Lévi-Straussian concept of mytheme. 57 In hypercorrect Fataluku often referred to as Sorotumalai. In Portuguese and Letinese this name is rather rendered as Sorot Malae or Soratmalai, respectively. 58 Seixas (2008b) prefers to translate this name as ‘foreigner of the book’.



the reader. Each sentence in the texts is marked by a number. The numbers represent the actual sequences of production during the performance. For example, in the Tutuala version sentence number 65 is actually produced before sentence number 80. However, in the text below it is rather placed here after sentence 81, because the scene described in sentence number 65 takes place after the scene mentioned in sentence number 80. The original sequencing of the Tutuala narrative is provided in Seixas (2008d), which actually is a Portuguese rendering of a Fataluku performance. Parts of the Leti narrative have been reproduced in Engelenhoven (1998, 2008). The bold printed text contains information that will be elaborated on further below. Between the square brackets in the Letinese text is the reference to a protagonist, which has been mentioned elsewhere in the text. Lexical parallels in the Letinese text are separated by //.59
Tutuala (Tutuala Ratu clan version) 35. Then, the youngest son left… he left with a book and a pen in his hand, but before leaving he visited the entire island to become acquainted with it. 36.Before leaving he made a declaration in which he asked his brothers: “I go pay another visit to this island.1 37. It is forbidden to eat this fruit before my arrival.” 38.So, then when he returned, he saw that his brothers had eaten the forbidden fruit and so he said: 38a.“I go with this book and this pen and you broke the promise that you made the mistake to eat the fruit, so I curse you: will stay here and may search for your daily bread in sorrow and sweat, but I will leave with this pen, with this book. I will leave for the outside world… 38c.I go to enjoy myself. … 40.You have to work hard and badly in the field and other jobs to sustain your lives and that of your sons. … 44.After that his father then divided mutisala beads and gold among the remaining brothers who stayed there and continued to suffer. … 80.To complete the story of the seven descendants, the youngest left with a book and a pen in his hand for the outside world 80a. and the Leti (Aanilviaru clan version) 46. So, [the Creator of Leti] stayed there and then they saw the sovereign of Timor coming. 47. When he arrived he was the first human (on Leti Island). 48. He came from Timor. 49. He came from Timor with a slupa. 50. A ship with sails. 51. So, [the Creator of Leti] descended to beckon to him. … 53. He spoke to [ Sairmalai]. 54. He called him: “come!”. 55.“But I go to the East!” 56. “Where to?” 57. “I go to the East, to the Mother of Islands// the Father of Continents, Lüondona- Vïetrili (Luang Island). 58. I have never been there before, so now I want to go there.” 59. “Don’t go there, watch out!” … 63. Then [Sairmalai] said: “Well, yes, but I want to say something: my younger brother is over there (on Luang Island), so when he comes here we will climb the mountain (=we will come ashore and reside here). … 188. After that it was Sïerulüona’s ( Leave-Luang) turn, the sovereign of Prirulu (Stand-first) territory. … 101. Another ship came. 102. It came and landed. … 111. And while he passed through, the water was up to his knees. 112. It was drying up, but the land was still moisty. 113. He waded through the water ashore to check around and then they gave him his name and he was called Slerleti (Wade-Leti). … 116. But that is his Letinese name, his Timorese name is Sairmalai ( 117. He was the owner (= king) of the Big Land (= Timor). …

59 It may very well be that ‘pen’ and ‘pencil’ and ‘book’ are becoming lexical parallels in Fataluku. There is no evidence so far, however, that they already are. Sorotu ‘book’ and lepuru ‘book’ have been attested as lexical pairs.



remaining six later on spread across the entire territory, across the whole of Timor Island. 81.The six referred to dispersed throughout the island, 81a.and it is said that three stayed in the centre, 81b.two stayed in the underpart of the human skeleton. 81c. So, they stayed in the lower limbs: one in the left (leg), the other one in the right (leg). An another one stayed in the head, that are they (the Guimarães family). 65.He (the youngest) left with a book and a pen in his hand and the fathers and brothers are still waiting for his return. … 68.According to the story he promised to return, but up till today it is not known whether he has returned yet. 69.It is not known where he stayed, he may have stayed in Europe, in America, in Portugal. 71.It is not known. But it is known that the youngest son left with as (final) destination the West on a course with an unknown destiny.
--1 … vou dar uma volta a essa ilha. 2 This is the Letinese ritual name of Jaco Island in East-Timorese territory, directly off the eastern tip of Tutala sub district.

189. He afterwards took Ratïavnu (Backland) and joined and tightened, tied and bound it (to Leti Island),because of which they called the land: Nusleti // Ralïeti, Tuniina // Kalora, Nuspuuti (Floating Island)2 // Ratïavnu (Backland). 190. Then he pronounced these six names. 191. That was it, the path of Leti. 192. Then he moved to Leti. … 122. The sovereign of Leti continued: “Father, it happens that I belong to the people of Malai // Piatuala, Bright Malai// Grand Malai (= Timor). … 129. Then [the Creator of Leti] said: “I want to you to inherit.” … 203. So [Slerleti] stayed there to guard the island, but he had a younger sister, the only sister: Lelmalai. 204. There were six people. 205. Soratmalai//Sairmalai, Resmïalai//Talmüalai, Ivarmalai//Voarmalai. 206. And that little sister: Lelmalai. 207. Lelmalai cried. She cried because of her brother. 208. She said: “One of my brothers went to stay on Lonna //Rètna (Luang Continent) . They are not here … 211. They are no longer here, so I go and look for them.” …

Elsewhere it has been extensively elaborated that local folklore suggests that Fataluku in fact is a newcomer in the region (Engelenhoven, 2010b), which is confirmed by anthropological research. McWilliam (2007) convincingly shows that although Fataluku is a nonAustronesian language, its speech society is clearly based on principles found in cultures speaking Austronesian languages. Otherwise formulated it may be suggested that both Fataluku-speaking Lautem and Southwest Maluku share the same cultural framework, albeit that there may still be salient differences. The fact that Tutuala and Southwest Maluku used to be part of the same economical network and their mutual proximity enable the assumption that both narratives are part of a larger narrative frame. Engelenhoven (2008) explains that names in Southwest Malukan narratives are abstracts of a historical event that in some way involved the name bearer. However, whereas it is easy to see that the Fataluku name Sorotmalai, ‘the king of the book’ and the Leti name Soratmalai ‘Remember-Timor’ (Engelenhoven, 1998, p. 37) must have the same origin, they suggest to be epitomes of different stories. This phenomenon is more often observed when Tutuala and Southwest Malukan names are compared. So, for example, Gomes (1972, p.25) explains the name Resi (as in Resi-Kati Ratu, a sub clan of the Kati Ratu clan) as meaning ‘criminal’, which refers to an act executed by the first ancestor of this sub clan. Valentim (2002:79) acknowledges the name Resimalai – meaning



‘criminal king’- as a name belonging to the Resi clan. However, Simon Menina, the storyteller of the Leti variant above elsewhere explains further on in the story that Resmïalai (‘Win~Timor’) rather refers to the event of one of Soratmalai’s brothers being murdered on Leti Island. Further investigation among tradition specialists in the clans of Kati Ratu, Jen i La’i Ratu and a few others revealed that this seemingly epitomical difference between both narrative traditions from a western perspective has little or no impact on the audience. A common reaction, which the author of this paper heard was Tavar har em e va’an ca’a “They have to say it like that.” Otherwise formulated, in the Tutuala and Southwest Malukan context every statement is meant to relate to the background of the one who made the statement rather than express something else. This explains, why, for example, both Kati Ratu clan and Tutuala Ratu clan can claim to exclusively descend from the first original inhabitant in the public domain without evoking the obvious contradiction that only one of both can really be the only descendant. A secret told in the private domain may reveal why the storyteller “had to say it like that” (see Figure 2). In both stories above there is mention of a youngest brother. Whereas the Tutuala narrative is about this youngest brother, in the Leti narrative he is only mentioned in passing (line 63). In the latter it is rather about the travel of the oldest brother, Sairmalai, who follows after another brother who left earlier. This theme of tracking a brother who went ahead is a common element in many clan narratives throughout the region. It is also one of the main narrative devises in local folklore that enables the equation of clans that would otherwise constitute different and unrelated peoples. This is exemplified by Rusumalai (2009) who explains that Latuloho Ratu and Masipan Ratu are originally from the same clan. Gomes’ (1972) analyses of Fataluku myths, for example of Cailoru Ratu and Tana Ratu, show that migrating groups that arrived in Timor in different times and on different places, nevertheless acknowledged their shared origin. At this point I quote Paulo Seixas’ (2006a) report on a phenomenon that happened in January 2006 in Valusere in Tutuala sub district. “Thomas” in his report is the second Baptisimal name of the present author (Engelenhoven In Press). Maku’a is one of the alternative names of the Makuva or Lóvaia people in Tutuala sub district. “Thomas a lecturer of linguistics at Leiden University whose origin is of Leti, a small island east of East-Timor, made a Maku’a dictionary and with local Timorese specialists began to translate the Bible in Fataluku. Therefore and also because of his Letinese origin coinciding with the mythical origins of the Maku’as themselves, he finally became involved in a ritual of insertion into a clan where he was appointed a mother and a father, and also was given an indigenous Maku’a name: “Sorot-Malae”, which is: the Malae of the book”. (Seixas, 2006a, p. 427) Actually what Seixas observes here is the parabolic linking of ‘the story of a foreign scientist studying Fataluku and Makuva’ and the story of Sorotmalai as explained above. The main actors in both stories, or mental spaces , Thomas and Sorotmalai, share the feature that they come from abroad, but at the same time have a Timorese origin.60


60 For clarity it must be said here, that whereas Leti Island is geopolitically part of the Republic of Indonesia and not of East-Timor, it is within Fataluku and Makuva folklore considered to be part of what they call ‘the eastern tip’

Language in the region’s folklore is considered to be a receptacle of knowledge (Engelenhoven 2010b). Makuva, acknowledged as the sixteenth national language of the republic of East-Timor, was replaced by Fataluku in Tutuala sub district in the sixties of the last century, but managed to survive as a special ritual register within Fataluku (Englenhoven 2010d). Consequently, the compilation of a Makuva dictionary was interpreted as an act of gathering old knowledge. The main language of communication in the sub districts of Lospalos, Lautem-Moro and Tutuala is now Fataluku. The word ‘Fataluku’ actually means ‘correct speech’. Local folklore has it that Fataluku was introduced rather late into the region where each clan initially spoke its own language. All these languages were eventually replaced by the one language that was ‘correct’: Fataluku. Almost all Fatalukus are Roman Catholic. However, the language used in the Bible is either Indonesian, Portuguese or Tetun, which latter language is also often referred to in popular speech as ‘the language that does not have a word for ‘window’’.61 Especially the fact that the Song of St. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had already been translated into Tetun, but not in Fataluku, the correct language, was a main impulse for the community to support the translation project. Figure 3a shows that the Timorese origin, the coming from abroad and the search for knowledge occur in both the ‘Thomas’ and ‘Sorotmalai’ input spaces and as such are elements in their generic space. Figure 3b then shows that it are these elements in the generic space that enable to link both spaces parabolically.



(Ponta Leste) and therefore Timorese. 61 This is related to the common observation that where Fataluku has words of its own, for example vaihula ‘window’, Tetun resorts to other languages, for example Portuguese, to denote a concept for which it does not have a word of its own; ‘window’ in Tetun is janela, which is actually Portuguese. CULTURE AS/IN TRANSLATION


Seixas (2008b, 2010) elaborates on this case later on by suggesting that what in fact happened was the installation of a ‘new Sorotmalai’, implying that ‘Sorotmalai’ is a kind of special function within society. The core of this analysis lies in the fact that the phenomenon of translation, whether this be genuine linguistic translation, or translation between concepts – labeled cultural translation - lies at the very heart of Timorese culture. This suggests there to be a newly blended space in which the new Sorotmalai would feature attributes that are exclusive to the separate input spaces and as such absent in the generic space (see Figure, section 1). Turner (1996, pp. 67-70) shows that blended spaces may also contain structure that does not occur in either input space. In his example two ships, The Northern Light and the Great America II sail in different time settings the same course. When compared, the Great America II, being a multi-hull vessel, travelled the distance in a shorter time in 1993 than the Northern Light in 1853, which was a single hull vessel. This was explained in the text as if both ships were performing together in a race, which is impossible, logically speaking. This emergence of a ‘new story out of two other ones’ does not appear in the parabolic link of the Thomas and Sorotmalai spaces. There is no third person in a blended space that features characteristics of both Thomas and Sorotmalai. In this paper, however, we pursue an alternative interpretation, in which there is no conceptual blending of attributes from different mental spaces but rather the equation of parallel but separate narrative worlds.

Section 1 distinguished names, songs and narrative artifacts as important narrative instruments in the topology of narrations in Lautem and Southwest Maluku. Names, whether they belong to people, places or artifacts, are temporal landmarks with which the storyteller and the audience can locate the story in narrative time. Songs rather locate the story in narrative reality. They are truth landmarks with which the storyteller and the audience can assay the truth value of the story. As has been explained in section 1, narrative artifacts differ from names and songs in a definition in which a narration is a combination of ‘chunks’, which again can be divided in general topoi and distinctive plot patterns. A quick comparison of the Tutuala Ratu version in section 2 with the versions of Latuloho Ratu and Oirata below shows that the theme is the same in all three stories: the voyage abroad of a sibling.



Gomes (1972, pp.49-50) (Latuloho Ratu clan version) 1.Mau-Veles and Rai-assa had seven sons and seven daughters.2. One day, Mau-Veles descended to the courtyard and took a nap on the mat… 5. So, Mau-Veles when he was asleep, was not covered. .He lied there shamelessly. 6.The sons, seeing him in this state, laughed and made fun about him. 7.Only the youngest, full of serenity, approached and covered him. 8.When he woke up, the old man ordered that all sons would appear before him. 9.He frowned and turned to the six oldest and sentenced them: -You are rascals. 10.Fetch a machete and go to work. 11.To the youngest he spoke gently and gave his blessing. 12.He gave him a pen in his hand, symbol of wisdom, the instrument of development. 13.In other versions all were given pen and paper, but the cursed ones left them outside while saying to the youngest: 14.Say, arrange a boat and go learn and study abroad. 15.When you have become smart, you come back to reign and command us. 16.However, we stay to cultivate the land here, to worship the idols and to defend the brothers-inlaw. And so it was. 17.The youngest collected all science in the world and returned to govern them.

Josselin de Jong 1937 (Oirata version)

39. Then he married his own sister and begot four sons and one daughter. 40. When they had grown up, the Creator arranged loin-cloth, woman’s jacket, trousers, hat, shoes, writing pens, ink and paper on a table. 41. The loin-cloths were in the east and the rest was in the west. 42. Then the Creator said: take want your heart desires. 43. Then the eldest brother, the English, collected a writing pen, 44. paper, ink, a jacket, trousers and a hat... 45. shoes, a rifle and a sword and lost his way and went to England to settle there. 46. The next child, the Dutch, was also greedy and took the woman’s jacket, trousers, hat, shoes, rifle, sword, pen, paper and ink, and on the way he shot birds and without realizing he arrived in Holland and stayed there. 47. The younger siblings took what was left on the east side and then went to Wero-Wera (= East-Oirata on Kisar Island) and stayed there.

The Latuloho Ratu version agrees with the Tutuala Ratu version in that it is the youngest brother who goes to look for knowledge. However, a meaningful difference between both is that Latuloho Ratu considers Sorotmalai to have returned (bold printed in sentence 17 in the Latuloho Ratu version), whereas in the Tutuala Ratu version people are still anticipating his promised return (bold printed in sentence 68 in the Tutuala Ratu version). In the Oirata version, however, there is no mention of returning or searching for knowledge. At the same time, it are the two oldest brothers instead of the youngest one who go abroad. The Oirata version mentions more items that the travelling brothers take along, of which some are clear lexical parallels, as for example ‘loin-cloth // woman’s jacket’ (Oirata: mala // raini) and ‘trousers // hat’ (Oirata: saholo // tutrulu) in sentence 40 and rifle // sword (Oirata: (i)lapa // lo’oro) in sentence 45. Taking into consideration that fixed word order is one of the main features of lexical parallelism, the Oirata text from 1937 above shows that ‘new’ cultural items like ‘pen’, ‘paper’ and ‘ink’ do not easily forge into a lexical parallel in the Oirata language. So, whereas in sentence 40 the order is rather ‘ink // paper’ (Oirata: etewaje // tarkasa), in sentence 44 the order is rather reversed in ‘paper // ink’ (Oirata: tarkasa // etewaje). In this case there is a third concept involved with ink and paper, namely pen, which is



mentioned always together with the two other ones but in different word orders. This suggests that the Oirata storyteller did not know how to incorporate these narrative artifacts, as I label them here, in a stylistically sound construction.62 ‘Pen’ and its supposed lexical parallels ‘paper’ and ‘book’ all occur as narrative artifacts in the variants of the Sorotmalai story discussed in this paper. Otherwise formulated, these narrative artifacts are to narratives what theatrical properties or props are to a play. The audience requires the ‘pen’, ‘book’ or ‘paper’ to identify the narrative as the Sorotmalai story. The apparent differences in the variants observable for a Western audience appeared not to be meaningful for a local audience. Variations in narration are generally considered by the audience as either personal digressions related to either sacredness (hence certain things are not told but nevertheless known by the performer)63 or optional beautifications of the oral text to please the audience without impact on the truth value of the narrated text. As long as the prop that is essential to the story appears in the narration, then it is acknowledged as a true variant of the story. This is represented in Figure 4 where all three versions of Tutuala Ratu, Latuloho Ratu and the Oirata are equated as variants of the one Sorotmalai story. The last mentioned has most narrative artifacts and thus is most specific, whereas the Latuloho Ratu version is least specific in that it only has one narrative artifact. Latuloho Ratu’s version therefore is implied in Tutuala Ratu’s version that has more additional narrative artifacts. On their turn both these versions are again implied in the Oirata version, because the latter has even more artifacts beside the ones that are also in the other versions. Narrative artifacts thus function as coordinates for the audience with which it can equate stories as variants of the same narrative. Seixas’ (2010) interprets this equation of stories as a translational phenomenon.
! ink Oirata version ! book ! pen Tutuala version

Latuloho version

62 See also footnote 57 in section 2, which discusses the Fataluku notion sorotu meaning both ‘book’and ‘letter’. In Oirata, soroto rather translates as ‘drawing’. Both the Fataluku and Oirata terms derive from a Proto-Austronesian word *surat meaning ‘writing’ or ’letter’. 63 On the Southwest Malukan islands this phenomenon is generally referred to by the audience as ‘he has to say it that way; we do not say it like that’.



A comparison between the Sorotmalai/Sairmalai stories in section 2 reveals that the book and the pen that are very salient narrative artifacts in the Fataluku variant remain unmentioned in the Leti variant. From the audience’s point of view this absence of narrative artifacts is easily explained as Sorotmalai (Soratmalai in Leti) is only mentioned in bypassing, implying that this particular story is not about Sorotmalai. Engelenhoven (1998) explains that the mentioning of Sorotmalai’s name, although just as a lexical parallel in a story about his brother Sairmalai, enables the location of the first mentioned in narrative time, albeit that the ‘narrative chunk’ related to Sorotmalai/Soratmalai seems no longer known on Leti Island. This deictic quality makes anthroponyms and toponyms into a what is called ‘space builders’ or ‘world builders’ in Mental Space Theory (Fauconnier 1994) and Text World Theory (Gavins 2007), respectively. In the Aanilviaru clan version in section 2, Sairmalai (lines 53, 63, 116 and 205), Sïerulüona (line 188) and Slerleti (lines 113 and 203) relate to different actions by the same person in different places. The place names too, for example Malai –Pïatuala (line 122) and Lüondona-Vïetrili (line 57), refer to respectively Timor Island and Luang Island before the final creation of Leti Island (epitomised by Nuspuuti-Ratïavnu, line189). This is displayed in Figure 5.

Slerleti creates NuspuutiRatïavnu (Leti)

Sïerulüona leaves LüondonaVïetrili (Luang)

Sairmalai leaves MalaiPïatüala (Timor)

FIG. 5. SLERLETI SÏERULÜONA SAIRMALAI, CONSECUTIVE STORIES IN A SINGLE TIME WINDOW Consequently, the audience – if it is aware of all three happenings – can only conceive them as consecutive stories within a single time window. The protagonists can be identified as one and the same person in all three stories. It are the time-specific place-names that anchor the narrative ‘chunk’ in time, whereas the mutual separation of the geographical location they refer to bar any possible parabolic links between the story-events. In order to explain Seixas’ (2006a) observation discussed in section 2 above, we quote a comment by Sr. Teotónio, near the end of the documentary by Engelenhoven and Seixas added to this book. In the documentary he is a participant of the Kati Ratu clan who witnessed the ritual of acknowledgement and acceptance of the present author by the Jen i La’i Ratu clan at Valusere beach in January 2006. During this ceremony the author was officially bestowed the name Sorotmalai. “(The arrival of Thomas) brings luck now. Because this is someone who came from far, and he knows everything. So, you realized that the man carries the language. He carries what was ours and sacrificed a lot without any reserve. Our link (with him) is like this, like in the tale. Therefore it is good that he came.” (Sorot Malai. The journey, the brothers and the book)



This quote exemplifies that the story of ‘Thomas researching Fataluku (= ‘the correct language’)’ is parabolically linked to the ‘story of Sorotmalai looking for knowledge’ (see Figure 3b). The first reason why this is possible, is that both events happen at the same place, unlike what is described for Slerleti above. Additionally, it must be mentioned that this parabolic link is enabled through a ‘belief space’ in which Sorotmalai once will return (line 68 in the Tutuala Ratu version). As such, the story of ‘Sorotmalai leaving Timor’ can be located in time before the story of ‘Thomas researching Fataluku’, which is witnessed by the audience itself. The latter story is, so to speak, the situational sphere in Brandt’s and Brandt’s (2005) semiotic base space, whereas the total of stories about Sorotmalai are part of the ‘phenomenal world’ or outer sphere in the semiotic base space. The bold printed sentence in the quote of Sr. Teotónio that refers to a tale (the story of Sorotmalai, AvE) relates to this ‘phenomenal world’ of the Fataluku speech participants. Seixas’ (2008b) interpretation that the ritual above installed ‘a new Sorotmalai’ is based on the awareness that the story of ‘Sorotmalai leaving Timor’ must be located way back in time. Sorotmalai’s return, therefore, also needs to be placed back in time, grounding the actual semiosis (in Brandt’ and Brandt’s terminology) in a Western ‘phenomenal world’ rather than in a Fataluku ‘phenomenal world’. Although he does not use the instruments of Mental Space Theory, Seixas’ (2008b) analysis locates the ‘new Sorotmalai’ in a new, blended space. The parabolic links between Thomas and Sorotmalai are enabled because the geographical location of the stories of Thomas and Sorotmalai’s return are the same: both are in Tutuala. Since there is no sequence imposed on the narrative events, both stories can be interpreted as taking place on the same moment, albeit in different narrative spaces. The story of Thomas taking place in the situational sphere of the semiotic base space is parallel to the story of the return of Sorotmalai that is lodged in the Fataluku ‘phenomenal world’. The protagonists Thomas and Sorotmalai enact their own stories, because of which they remain separate individuals.

Engelenhoven’s (1998, 2008) folkloristic analyses of names and motifs in Leti narratives support this interpreting of ‘actual’ events as mirrors or representations of narrative events in a Fataluku cultural framework. If this hypothesis is correct, then one needs to distinguish different types of time in Tutuala and Southwest Maluku with respect to narratives. First there is linear time related to a storytelling performance, in which a storyteller begins and ends his performance. Second there is narrative time that is related to the place where the narrated action takes place. We interpret the indissoluble or inextricable connection between the place and the narrated action to cause time here to be stationary rather than ongoing. This may explain why the events in the previous section in which Thomas participated could be recognized as events in which Sorotmalai participated. Further research may reveal whether this idea applies only to Lautem District and Southwest Maluku Regency, or whether it is valid for, for example, entire East-Timor.





When everybody becomes involved with the fight of everybody against everybody without finding the common opposite that would unify them into a single front the homeland seems to go and lose itself in the utter confusion Somebody among the crowd will have to be sacrificed or sentenced to a sacrifice that may or may not happen The prestige that wins that who emerges of among the confusion unifying the homeland and through the postponed sacrifice increasing his prestige that might be king and reconstruct the divided nation This is how sovereign unity is reconstituted with a blood that was not spilled with the violence of the chaos and with the conciliation on the stone of the sacrifice where nobody was sacrificed António Ramos Rosa. In Pátria Soberana, 2001

The events in East Timor throughout 2006 are indications of great cultural divisions in this young country that some authors have been referring to: the divisions among clans, among the three social status, among ethno-linguistic groups… and between the ethnical formations of the west and the east, named Kaladi and Firaku; the divisions among generations, and it could even be said there are, at this moment, four generations: the colonial, that of resistance, the Indonesian and that of independence; the divisions produced by the different Timorese diaspora, mainly to Australia and the Lusophone countries. These divisions are, most often, latent but they become apparent in diversified situations, from the daily social interactions to the construction of the institutions of the State itself. The various divisions point out resentments always ready to be triggered and to escalate into crisis. Among many other things, the Firaku claim to be the oldest in Timor (“those from inside”); the Kaladi accuse the Firaku of having been on the colonial side in the great revolt of 1912; the Firaku accuse the Kaladi of having been “the big door” of the Indonesian invasion; the Kaladi accuse the Firaku of being too sensitive to their identification with their local culture (“sucuísmo”) instead of nationalism… . As for the generational divisions,
64 A first version, in Portuguese, of this paper was published in 2007 (Silva & Simião, 2007). I am thankfull to Kelly Silva and Daniel Schroeter Simião for the permission to republish this text in this new version. 65 In this introduction I included extracts from texts submitted or published in other situations: SEIXAS, Diário de Notícias, 12; SEIXAS, Público, 3; GOMES, Revista Pública, 7 to 10.



among other divisions, it is the colonial generation that rules (and in this, plus those who left the country, “the outsiders”), while the generation of resistance (“those who stayed”) was demobilized and sent back to civil society, including various FALINTIL (The Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor) fighters. As for the young of the Indonesian generation (“Tim-Tim gerasaum” or “gerasaum foun”), they tried to fight in the transition period for a place between the ruling Anglophone and Lusophone but the minimization of their Indonesian studies and of the language they expressed themselves best created resentments. The “outsiders”, returned from Australia or from Portugal and Lusophone countries, not only had different positions (for example concerning the language and the legal system), but were also the target of resentment of “those from inside” (who stayed in East Timor) and that called, specifically some, “Mozambican mafia” and “group of Maputo”. These divisions reach directly the structure of the State itself. The generational division (and between “the outsiders” and “those from inside”) is obvious and since the formation of the FDTL (East Timor Defence Force) and the PNTL (National Police of East Timor) there were voices drawing attention to the fact that the former is more Firaku, and the second more Kaladi, reproducing in the security institutions the ancestral division. The events that began on February 8 (already a consequence of a petition presented in January) with the strike of the military fall into this latent but ever present division and, specifically in the sense of discrimination of the Kaladi regarding either the numerical predominance, either the Firaku pride who claim they were the main protagonists of the resistance. Now the events of last week of April, with the intervention of the group Colimau 2000, show the generational resentments of the Tim-Tim generation taking the stage. On the other hand, the escape to the mountains of about 70% of the population from Dili revealed that the East Timorese feel safer close to their clans of origin than to the state institutions. Such situation shapes an appreciation for the cultural Holism faced with the Individualism that would enable the relevance of State institutions. This evidence implies a cultural management of the political situation that is created. In continuing this reasoning, so far presented here with minor changes, in a journalistic text on May 5, 2006, I stated: “For multiple mediations must be operated that provide East Timor for the construction of an ‘Alternative Modernity’, an original democratic construction that takes into account the cultural history of the country and its divisions. The current crisis can be appeased by conjectural negotiations, but one can not underestimate the chances of escalation of conflict by the latent but permanent divisions that prompted it. One should not forget, however, that the negotiation and the mediation are, in East Timor, part of the institution of translation of traditions, incorporated in various rituals. In a bureaucratic society under construction, the State must assume itself as the main mediator but when ethnic issues are re-invented, the use in accumulation of traditional mediation processes can be an asset. Between Firaku and Kaladi, the state ritualization of mediation in a “rai-klaran” (“land-of-the-middle”) can be fundamental (whether Aileu, Dili or Manatuto) and for the Tim-Tim generation, the compensation for scholarships or professional insertions



can compensate for resentment, and especially prevent it from reaching a percentage of young people such that every opportunity may be used to trigger the conflict.” (Seixas, 2006a) On May 21, 2006, in an interview (Gomes, 2006), I posited that we were facing the “First Post-Colonial Ritual War”, explaining briefly that the war (Funu) in East Timor had been understood by some authors as a ritual event, that is, a process expected and of colective legitimacy that allows the passage of a socio-political situation to another. Again in May 2006, on 20th, the anniversary of (Restoration) of Independence, I presented a text whose basic idea can be summarized in the following paragraph that announces the thesis of this paper: “What failed in East Timor is that the State was contructed without being given the necessary tools to construct Nationalism. It was then the identification with local culture (“sucuísmo”) or the clan divisions that eventually undermined the state structures. First by the rumors and minor cases that nobody paid any importance to and, later, with the beginning of a mimetic violence that reduced the security structures to dust, and even the political power.” (Seixas, 2006b) In summarizing the various interpretations of the crisis in East Timor, as early as June (Seixas, 2006c), I understood them through five major positions. 1) A question of military-political leadership: the almost 600 soldiers who went on strike and signed a petition which was received by President Xanana in January as a problem of discipline and of chain of command of the armed forces. 2) A socio-cultural issue: the evocation of discrimination by the soldiers referred to an ethnic problem that seemed to grow by the State apparatus, and the use of the demonstration from 28 April by gangs of young added a generational problem. 3) A political-institutional issue: the bicephalous condition Xanana – Mari Alkatari as the basic problem that, through the decayed relationships, led to the structurelessness of the State and to the lack of control of the social situation. 4) The theory of the coup d’état, emerging this interpretation in two registers. A softer one, due to the idea of a) a constitutional coup d’état carried out by President Xanana to strengthen his powers by forcing to a semi-presidentialism more of a Portuguese type than the Timorese constitution refuses him: a pro-active attitude at a certain point, being the appointment of ministers to resign and the leading role of Ramos Horta arguments for that thesis. A harder register points to b) an Australian coup d’état, view supported by the World Socialist Web Site with followers in Portugal and that connects the oil, Kristy Gusmão, Ramos Horta, John Howard, Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank in a fantastic conspiracy that could be written by Dan Brown. Finally, a fifth interpretation brings us to 5) A question of construction of a one-party State, constitutional dictatorship or tutelary democracy, that is, the transposition of an African political education, coupled with personal agendas of power and ambition of certain individuals who are now being identified. Now, at the end of the year 2006, my understanding of the crisis in Timor returns to the first intuition of the Ritual War and, including all the possibilities of what I stated in June, I now work out a systematization that implies attention to the theoretical contributions, specifically of James Fox and René Girard for the understanding of the crisis process in East Timor.



In the coming years several timelines for the explanation of the first post-colonial war in East Timor, in 2006, will be discussed. In November, still in 2006, this crisis seems to be understood in terms of three major issues, the political-institutional, that related to the sociocultural issues and that understood by the geopolitical and economical situation of East Timor. These three contexts of understanding can also still be subsumed in two main perspectives that characterize, in a sense, the debate on globalizations: the right to culture and to its self-determination on the one hand, showing an increasing planetary trend towards fragmentation, and a geo-strategy of an economic basis strongly unipolar (United States), combined with regional powers such as, in relation to this case, Australia. The first post-colonial war in East Timor is a case of crossroad of globalizations in which cultural fragments are granted as self-determining and in which the external powers intervene in several ways according to geo-regional strategies compatible with a global unipolar geo-strategy. If we accept such contextualization, the most visible phenomena of this first post-colonial war (the political-institutional) are not the most important, since the State is, exactly, the structure weakened by means of mechanisms inherent to those two mechanisms and to their internal logic. The State is thus the victim structure, the “scapegoat” structure out of which emerged and will continue to emerge the “culprits” of the crisis. At an international level, experts in East Timor tend not to focus the 2006 crisis only on the institutional-political issue, even though it is the most consensual. However, the consensus seemed to end there because while some emphasize the internal socio-cultural issues, others emphasize the external issue. My point here is that the two mechanisms, with their specific rules, worked and still work, crushing in a slow tourniquet the State as “scapegoat”, turning down one after another the credibilities of the Timorese political members. The reports from October 2006 of the International Crisis Institute and of the United Nations, in analyzing the most visible phenomena of the crisis, have joined this victimizer process of the State by ‘descovering’ reasons for the differences among the different political actors. Based on an analysis of the internal issues, it can probably be said that the mimetic violence (the funu) is a trait of culture in East Timor, which may be latent or become manifest, by an escalation into crisis. However, perhaps one could say that the very traditional culture also allows patterns of socio-cultural coexistence. That is, the segmented culture that provides opportunities for constant conflicts also includes mechanisms for coexistence, by the status assigned to and acquired by those segments. However, such mechanisms of coexistence seem to have their vital role in the relationship between personal life cycle and clan social system, between relations of kinship and of chiefery. The relations of coexistence of broad spectrum (uniting in one single imagination from taci-fetus to taci-mane, from lorosae to loromonu) seem to have always been created by an external power (from wehali-wehiku and empire Belo, spreading to the Portuguese, the Indonesians and the UN) whose anchoring or social location sends to a cultural framework of relation between “those from inside” and “the outsiders”. As Hohe refers, “myths and social structures show the specific way of integrating foreign influences. On the level of the world as ‘totality’ the condition is perceived as being incomplete if the ‘outside’ is not involved.” (Hohe, 2000). But what could perhaps be said is that the complementary dualism, as mechanism of fundamental coexistence, function of a foreign power, went into crisis with the exit of the last foreign power from the country.



With regard to external issues, it seems much easier to gather evidence that the internal weaknesses were exploited externally (at the political and media levels) than to find evidence that proves that there was a prior external manipulation in order to produce the destabilizing internal elements. It seems to be possible to understand geo-strategically the Australian interest, as a regional power, in the existence of a weak State in East Timor and, perhaps even the support to that strategy (without the need of being explicit but just as legitimation of Australia and of its regional strategy) by the United States. Considering such geo-strategic framework it is understood that Australia does not neglect the first opportunity to discredit the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and his policy of modernization sustained in a well-built and autonomous State in the regional arena. However, there isn’t evidence (yet) that Australia has triggered the crisis. The ‘branches’ of the Tirmorese ‘trunk’ (Soares, 2003) were already known, and if, as I believe, in the Timorese culture the Funu (war) is a process of social structuring, its manipulation becoming relatively easy. In November 2006 awareness that the Timorese crisis was a complex crisis seemed to arise and that it did not in fact refer to the predominance of a single factor, be it socio-cultural, political-institutional or geo-strategic. Evidence of this is a check-list presented by Josh Trindade at ETAN (East Timor & Indonesia Action Network), including an immense set of items that until now have been used to explain the crisis of 2006, and asking about prospects about those prospects. This list, itself, is a sign that the Timorese society has reached such a degree of social dedifferentiation that the origin of the crisis can be pointed at anyone. Anyone can be nominated guilty and therefore anyone can easily become a victim. The outcome of all this process either repeats the logic of the traditional victimizer mechanism (due to several intermittent sacrifices and, perhaps, to a holy sacrifice66) or provides a cultural leap (by the logic of the sacrifice of replacement or symbolic, of colective mutual forgiveness,...) which is indicative of the very victimizer mechanism that it has fallen into. If we accept the assumptions made, James Fox and René Girard are fundamental to understand what is happening in East Timor. James Fox showed how the complementary dualism is structuring in East Timor, as well as in part of Southeast Asian Nations (Fox, 1980, 1995, 1996a). This mechanism works in East Timor at environmental, social and cultural levels, framing thus the territorial relationship, kinship relations and other social relations and even social thought, religious and political. It is a system based on precise rules, in actors who are entitled to interpret them and in ritual performances adequate both to the reproduction of the system and to the resolution of conflicts. It is a system in which the relation between ontogenesis and phylogenesis and between the parties (not the individual but the brothers, the knuas, the clans, the ancient kingdoms, the ethnic groups and the foreigners) and the whole that is the social system are carried out by the logics of co-presence in typical ritual situations. The “Clash of Paradigms” (Hohe, 2000) between the perspective of foreigners throughout history (Portuguese, Indonesian, UN) and the local perspective
66 Here follows Girard’s anthropological perspective, which means that deaths that, from a standpoint of journalistic or political analysis can be considered side effects of a crisis, from this perspective they can be considered intermittent sacrifices in the scope of a logic of mimetic cultural crisis. The death of several East Timorese in the crisis period which runs from February to October already fits that internal mimetic violence. However, in November the death of a Brazilian missionary occurred and in December the death of a Timorese interpreter of the UN, making clear the explicit extension of mimetic violence to the “outsiders”.



has always existed but such a shock could still be interpreted by the traditional system, sometimes through the symbolic figure of the “rebellious youngest brother.” This system is in collapse in East Timor, showing at the same time, its presence and its distancing and criticism as I have already tried to describe (Seixas, 2006, pp. 403 to 427 and especially 423), that an ‘inbetweeness’ culture between Tradition and Modernity, the result of the breakdown of such a system, typical of Dili, is one factor that may explain why this city is taken as the stage for crisis and why are, specifically the young males, the main actors in this crisis (Scambary; Da Gama and Barreto, 2006). At the specific levels of thought and political practice, Fox notes the importance of separating Authority and Power as dual functioning structure (Fox, 1996a). This structure seems to have worked at the time of the Empire Belo, being the ritual Authority established in Wehali-Wehiku and the power in Liurais, who were datos (noble) Belo and that had been inserted into the traditional political structures according to the logic of “Installing The ‘Outsider’ Inside” (Fox, 1995). According to Fox, during the Portuguese colonization, the ritual Authority Wehali-Wehiku must have passed to the Church and their bishops, enabling the hypothesis that both the Colonial Administration and the Traditional Administration have only remained connected to the exercise of Power67. This situation may have been emphasized during the period of Indonesian colonization, when the Authority of the Church was, clearly, stronger than the administrative and even the Indonesian military power. Being then a structure that shapes, at least for centuries, the practice and the political thought in East Timor, it would be expected that such a structure would remain in a post-colonial era. In the post-99 period, the ephemeral relationship between the UNAMET (United Nations Mission in East Timor)/UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor) and the CNRT (National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor) and then between UNTAET and ETTA, may have functioned as a continuation of the dual model. The awareness of a temporary foreign power was clear faced with a fragile Timorese authority but predominant in the future. Dissents within the Timorese authority (the ‘branches’ of nationalism as it is mentioned by Soares (2003)) were made known and were signs of concern, but the complementary dualism was structured and kept such dissents within a not national scope. After the Constituent Assembly was transformed into Parliament, with the new Constitution, with the presidential elections and, immediately afterwards, the Independence, the Timorese Authority finally ascended to Power, requiring new practical adjustments and of thought so that the ancestral structure of balance would ‘discovered’ itself, for the first time deploying Authority and Power only within the National Timorese Community. The divisions that enabled the complementary dualism did not have to be invented, once Timorese tradition itself allowed interpretations/translations so that, in the context of one more Modernity, these divisions were made. The ancestral structure that divided between Sacred and Ritual Authority (associated to the “owners of land”, the “oldest brother”, to “those from inside”) and Secular Power (associated to “those who came”, to the “youngest brother”, to the “outsiders”) could probably continue to happen in the current and ancestral relations between the Church and the State. The problem is that the State, which until now has his67 Perhaps – at least for some time – along with the duality of ritual Authority from Wehali-Wehiku vs. Power of Traditional Administration another duality may have been placed (that of the Authority of the Foreign King of the Portuguese Empire vs. the Power of the Colonial Administration in Timor).



torically been located as “from outside/youngest brother”, is now located in different ways according to a perspective from East or from West, and within the State itself, the location between “those from inside” (social status sometimes assigned to Xanana Gusmão, and by extension, to Falintil) and those from “outside” (social position sometimes assigned to Mari Alkatiri and to the Group of Maputo and also to the PNTL) is also a problematic location. As Hohe had already observed in the beginning of the year 2000 (note!), the socio-cultural location of Xanana Gusmão was not the same for those from the East/Lorosae/Firaku and those from the West/Loromonu/Kaladi. During the field work with the Kemaq, Hohe discovers that Xanana is a “big man” because he is a foreigner-from-the-east: The movement of independence seems to be categorised with the domain of the ‘abroad’. The responsibility for the borders is with the people from ‘abroad’, the important persons of the national movement, like Xanana and Ramos Horta as well as UNAMET. According to the consulted elders, Xanana comes from ‘the east’. They themselves come from ‘the west’ and therefore ‘do not know much about him’. It seems that a common identity with him therefore only appears on the level of totality, on which the cosmos is seen as a whole. On this level not only East Timorese independence fighters are included, but everyone else that comes from ‘abroad’. The breakout of this balance, tense but operative, characteristic of complementary dualism as defined by Fox, happens in fact from the outset the disregard of the basic rules which imply that the actions against those two Timorese institutions from foundation, Sacred Authority/Inside/Oldest Brother and Secular Power/Out/Youngest Brother, are fully allocated to different subjects, acting in different places (in a broad spectrum typically Interior-Coastal) and establishing perfectly clear ritual relationships between them. Thus, the competition that is not regulated, as attempts to overlap between Power and Authority, were interpreted by the Timorese (I mean the Timorese from the people and not the creole elite or the Timorese contaminated by the diaspora, both partly decultured and therefore skeptical) as a danger sign of of “social dedifferentiation”, that is, the hobbesian danger of the ‘struggle of all against all’ according to Girard (1978). The issue becomes severe in relation to the identity of the State itself and its members. The State (referred to most often in the interior simply as Governu) should merely be regarded as “from outside/youngest brother” in relation to all the Timorese. However, the crisis between Authority and Power distinguished itself in function of the the desire of the Authority in absorbing the Power to itself: the Church in opposition to the State, triggering a chain process that has, quite clearly, revealed Xanana against Mari Alkatiri and so on .... This situation can be interpreted according to the ancestral myth as if the crocodile swallowed the child, as we will see in the following part of this paper. For its part, the fragmentation of the State (“Governu”) enabled its constitution by a group of people, so by their social locations at the other lower levels. Such a situation created instability in the location of the State between “outsider/youngest brother” and “from inside/oldest brother”. This instability is, in itself, violent because when the place of those “from outside/youngest brother” is not clear, there is a ritual competition between “those from inside/oldest brothers”, as will be discussed below. The violence will only end when the ‘flow of life’ (Fox, 1980), the ritual flow between the parties, is regulated, that is, when balance of reciprocitis is found, both in terms of kinship between donor clans of women and taker clans of women, both at the political-institutional (kingship) level, be-



tween “those from inside/oldest brother” and “the outsiders/youngest brother.” This can only be done according to a ritual of reconciliation and of institution that establishes the reciprocity and legitimizes the new location of Authority and Power. The intuition of the danger of dedifferentiation, throughout the transition − particularly between 2000 and 2002 −, was interpreted according to a signal: the sighting by some Timorese of the ‘Grandfather’ (that is, the totem crocodile) emerging from the sea, looking at land. Now that social dedifferentiation is not but the disruption of complementary dualism as basic ancestral structure. When one realizes that such basic structure is dissolving, then any social and cultural unity is in danger (from the clan-family relationship to the State, as well as all the thought in itself ). It is that all thought and all social praxis and politics are structured by the complementary dualism. So when the crisis reaches this point, its internal or external origin is no longer relevant because the crisis has become a Cultural Crisis that contaminates and affects everything. In short, the rupture of complementary duality is the activator of the crisis and such rupture occurs not due to a single event but due to the reading (rumors) socially activated of several events. Confronted with each event, enhancer of danger of dedifferentiation, there are rumors and it is according to the collective expression of those rumors that the Timorese themselves have been interpreting the importance of that same event. Indeed, the importance of an event is always its media echo and, in this case, the rumor is the key internal media. The fact that an event makes the “Grandfather” crocodile appear (via rumor or fact68) can be interpreted as evidence of a sign of the dedifferentiation and of its own form of resolution, following the theory of René Girard, which fits perfectly to the reading of the Timorese crisis situation. It is that, according to René Girard, a situation of social dedifferentiation may lead to the extinction of a human community or be resolved according to the sacrificial mechanism in which the whole community agregates itself around a victim, made ‘scapegoat’ of the whole crisis. According to Girard, this solution is a ritual solution because it repeats a first sacrifice, made legendary for having been itself the reason for the non-extinction of the community and, therefore, of its own origin.

If we accept René Girard’s hypothesis (Girard, 1978, pp. 176-188 and Girard, 2006, pp. 56 to 59) on the founding sacrifice, the myth of the crocodile should be read as a ritual sacrifice,

68 One thing is to talk about these issues at a distance, another is having experienced them. During the 2001 elections period, the “Grandfather” appeared on the White Sand beach in Dili and I have been contemplating it myself for almost an hour emerging and submerging in the the coral reef. In 2002, at Independence, the “Grandfather” appeared again ... It is probable that “Grandfather” appears several times but the attention of the Timorese may be more active at times in particular, depending exactly on the rumors and on the possibility of dedifferentiation. Rumors are like a test to the existence of dedifferentiation: if they are fulfilled, the prophecy of the noise and dedifferentiation, which they represent themselves, will be held. It is then the confirmation of the dedifferentiation.



as the story of the first sacrifice. Using the versions by Fernando Sylvan (1995) and that by Luís Cardoso (2002), it is clear that the myth goes from dedifferentiation to differentiation and such a transition implies a journey and an external mediation. In Fernando Sylvan’s version dedifferentiation is shaped in the metaphor of the “swamp”, “The swamp, it to be seen, is the worst place to live. Standing water, shallow, dirty, covered by weird and undefined margins”, and the mimetic violence for the presentation of the crocodile itself as a double, “It is that this crocodile asked himself questions and then, as if he were otherwise, would answer to himself.” Luís Cardoso’s version is more descriptive of the original dedifferentiation itself by starting with a flood or tsunami: “It had never rained so much and at once in those parts. The waters rose, flooded the land, approached the heavens where they left Caleic seeds, germinating vines, tying the sea and land to infinity. It was the time when everything was connected, the universe in gestation. Beings mingled and roamed places once restricted to only a few. The water had done what men have ever dared, diluting the land borders. No one was classified according to the places where dwelled or according to the beings that digested”. As for the reference to the mimetic violence it is clear in the following passage: “Nature was claimed to be his best ally, that with him had always been benevolent. More than those of his kind who eat themselves.” And, even in a clearer way, when referring to the crocodile, already in the second part of the myth, as that “who personified the supernatural horror.” Besides, it is the other animals that reveal who the crocodile is: the monkey says “- Die he who harms us so much!” and the buffalo reveals when the girl asks him for help to take the crocodile away: “-No, anything but that! It was he who has devoured your parents!” Then the myth establishes a division, a differentiation between animals and humans that is also the first distinction between undifferentiation/mimetic violence/cannibalism and the human difference and, therefore, an agreement, a contract and reciprocity. The division is the one originated by the appearance of a child (the human weakness against the power of undifferentiation, of chaos), interestingly a “boy” in Sylvan’s version and a “girl” in Luís Cardoso’s version. One way or another, it is the new coming from outside, which is opposed to the old, which is on land. In Luís Cardoso’s version, reciprocity arises immediately. The girl looks for the parents who have been washed away, by dedifferentiation, and the crocodile proposes reciprocity “- Take me to the sea. I promise to deliver you to your parents!” In Sylvan’s version reciprocity is made according to the exchange of dreams. When the crocodile offers himself to take the boy through the sea, the following dialogue occurs: “-I really liked it, because my big dream is to see what else is there out there in the sea.” And the crocodile answers, “- Dream ... did you speak about dream? You know, I also dream ...”. And further: “-They were both delighted with the agreement.”. However, in both cases, the situation is dubious because in Cardoso’s version, the crocodile tells the girl he will take her to her parents when the buffalo had already revealed that he had eaten them and in Sylvan’s version the crocodile says he has a dream but the suspencion points give an unambiguous value to that dream. We know from the first two sentences of the myth that the crocodile that lived in the swamp had as dream to grow and “really have a phenomenal size,” that is, the dream of full dedifferentiation. Thus, the ritual journey that is processed is full of signs of tension in which the dedifferentiation-wild and cannibal that the crocodile



represents constantly threatens the possibility of human existence and therefore of culture and peace that the boy and girl represent. It is in this ritual voyage that a culture of translation is established: for the crocodile to “take to the parents” is one thing and for the girl it is another in Cardoso’s version and in Sylvan’s version we know that the dream of the boy and of the crocodile are different ... and yet, both agree to make the journey! It is thus an agreement and a reciprocity full of tension between the new (the boy or the girl) and the old (the crocodile), between the human possibility and the cannibal savagery, between the culture/the difference and the dedifferentiation. In fact, in Sylvan’s version, the boy first takes the crocodile from the scalding sand and puts it, again, close to the swamp where it had came from, while the crocodile thinks of eating him: “-This boy must be tastier than all that I tasted and saw in my entire life – and he imagined himself giving it a flick with the tail to numb it and then devour it.” In Luís Cardoso’s version it is throughout the journey that this tension is highlighted: “- Skip to my back! - the Crocodile said, with a fatherly voice. Dusk. And already without the supervision of the eyes of other animals, and protected from the distance and the darkness of night, which returned to each being the worst of his instincts, he intended to eat that child, and salted and condimented by the sea breeze. It is the nature of the crocodile to eat its catches. The girl had fallen into the trap of tears of the dying, forgetting that they too were of a crocodile.” In fact, the myth refers to a long journey in which the little boy or girl accept riding the crocodile on the water, an obvious metaphor for a fragile human existence, at the beginning of culture (girl, boy) on the dual dedifferentiation (once the crocodile is like the shadow of the first dedifferentiation of the flood or of the swamp, in the end, of water69) in which the crocodile dominates the first dedifferentiation but the boy or the girl are still dependent on the crocodile ... at least until his death. And so, by the end of the story there is a disguised founding sacrifice as Girard denounces in his theory (Girard, 1978), presenting itself as an animal sacrifice (albeit ambiguous because the crocodile, currently called “grandfather”, was taken from the dedifferentiation zone and is one of its representatives whereas it is anthropomorphized) and, specifically, from a wild animal, cannibal and impossible to tame, which is the one who self-sacrifices. In the myth, basically, the crocodile, old and frail, abdicates from eating the child who is on his back, preferring to die, beig this a founding sacrifice, because all his body is tranformed into the the island that is Timor, enabling thus the child’s existence and the continuation of her dream as a possibility for a social and cultural stable construction. The way in which Luís Cardoso ends his version, however, leaves no doubt about the deadly tension that existed between them: “When she heard the last breath of the crocodile, she |the child| took a deep breath as if she wanted to give birth, and saw the sun rise in the sea, illuminating the entire island, finally free from the nightmare of the treacherous night. She named it Timor.” If we apply Girard’s analysis, what we have here is a disguised sacrifice because if the crocodile explicitly died by human hands we would always be in a situation of mimetic violence.
69 Hicks (1996) describing the ritual from Bemalai in the Tetum mentions that the aquatic deity is usually represented by a crocodile or a great fish.



Beyond the Myth of the Crocodile, the cultures of East Timor share another extremely important myth registered among the Mambai by Elizabeth Traube (1997), among the Kemaq by Tanja Hohe (2000) among the Fataluco by Azevedo Gomes (1972) and also listened to by myself, what may be characterized as the continuation of the child’s dream of the myth of the crocodile. In fact, in the previous myth, the child – able to represent the first clan(s) – receives a legacy, the land that the crocodile becomes, that is Timor, the “Lord of the Earth”, i.e., the “oldest brother” or that “from inside.” In some versions, this first man asked the God creator to make other men, what he did, in other cases this is the first clan, Lord of the Earth, who had children, establishing thus in one way or another, the division between the oldest and the youngest. On the one hand, all the others who were coming to earth from the sea, are “those who came,” “the outsiders” and for that the “youngest brothers”, too. In one version I heard in Lautem – in a milestone that indicates that there some had arrived, like others have reached Tutuala and others Com – some washed ashore, others come swimming, others in fish or crocodiles, others still arrive by ship – being those ways of arriving the ones that give origin to their own gentile names of their clans. There seems to be a strong homology between the myth of the crocodile and of the child and the myth of the oldest brother and the youngest brother, adapting both the myths very well to the three stages of the rites of passage by Van Gennep, separation, margin and reintegration. At first there were the “brothers”, in number of two (Mambai), three (Kemaq) or seven sons and seven daughters (Fataluku) and the division between the oldest brother and the youngest is established, which seems only to take on specific physical features in Mambai’s version, once the youngest is dipped into white water what leaves him clean, while the oldest is dipped into dark water, becoming neither white nor clean. However, in all three versions of the myth siblings are distinguished for receiving specific objects. In the Mambai myth, Father Sky granted the oldest the sacred stone and trunk as elements that validate his authority over the cosmos, while to the youngest he gave the pen and the book, as representatives of European identity; in the case of Kemaq version, to the two oldest is given a sword and a crowbar and to the youngest a pen and paper to write; in the Fataluku’s version the ancestor gives to his six oldest children a machete and to the youngest a pen to write, a symbol of wisdom and, in another version gives everyone a pen and paper, but the six threw them away and only the youngest has taken it. In the second part of this myth, the youngest brother embarks on a trip overseas. In the Mambai version, the youngest brother steals the objects not otherwise specified that the ancestor placed in the ‘home of origin’ and crossed the water and the sea to go to the land of Portugal; in the Kemaq version, the reference is vague but Hohe considers it is the same behaviour; in the Fataluku version, the ancestor tells the youngest brother: “-Look, get a boat and go and learn, study the world beyond. When you become wise, return to rule us, command. Meanwhile we stay and cultivate the land, worshiping the “tei” and defending the brothers-in-law.” (Gomes, 1972, p. 49)



There is a difference here that is established between the land/inland and the sea/coastal and also between the east-west axis and the north-south axis. In this second stage of the myth, the societies of those who stay (land/inland, east-west axis) suffer from instability, with fights among the oldest brothers and with no respect for Authority but such instability is evident only in the Kemaq and Mambai versions, once in the Fataluku versions there is a silence. Finally, in a third stage, in the Mambai version it is the oldest brother who makes a ‘long and arduous’ journey to get overseas the youngest brother from Portugal; in the Kemaq version the youngest brother, understood as the Portuguese, then returns after having departed from his origin, to establish a relationship with the oldest siblings; in Fataluku’s version, only “benjamin gathered all the science in the world and returned to rule.” It is worth mentioning these myths are not just stories about a more or less distant past. The myth of the crocodile, in a sense already made national and folkloric, allowing the force of history of foundation, has homologies with other myths like the myth of the brothers, and specifically, of the difference between the oldest brother and youngest brother (cf. Traube for the Mambai, Gomes for the Fataluku, Hohe for the Kemaq and Ospina & Hohe &70) as well as with the myth of the Sacred King and the ritual regicide described by Hicks in the case of Ema and Tétum (Hicks, 1996). They represent the present and their structures are those that shape the Timorese thinking and practices, the Timorese social structure itself, not only from the mountains (obviously stronger) but even in Dili. These myths have thus a current value and are repeated constantly in the light of several rituals. The distancing from these structures of thought and of the practice by some Timorese of the diaspora does not help in the understanding of what is going on in East Timor. Yet this distancing is itself understandable in the sense of a denial of terror (the funu) as a central element in the Timorese culture. Facing the terror of the Timorese Funu might not be politically correct71 but I believe it is useful because the Timorese myths – as showed – do not only shape the terror of dedifferentiation but also suggest the ways of reconciliation and resolution of the crisis.

70 Ospina and Hohe refer that the myth of the brothers served to characterize the political unions between two kingdoms, emphasizing the importance of myths in the construction of political practices: “Kingdoms often had hostile relationships towards an immediate neighbour. However, when peace agreements were made with other kings they would support each other against attacks from a third kingdom. Two kings would enter a blood oath. They were then perceived as being from the ‘same blood’ and were classified as siblings, adhering to each other as ‘younger’ or ‘elder brother.’ The population could visit each other’s territory and take goods, like fruits from the trees, and establish peaceful trade. The population was not allowed to be angry at each other. If conflicts did occur, they had to be reported to the kings, who then gathered the people to discuss the matter. The atmosphere in these meetings had to be peaceful, as it would be in a gathering between brothers.” (Ospina & Hohe, 2002: 22-23) 71 I even believe that the refusal to accept the thesis that this paper presents, is the refusal of terror, the denial of the cultural unconscious, the denial of mimetic violence of dedifferentiation and of the founding sacrifice. The difficulty of fellow social scientists in accepting the anthropological thesis that analyzes tradition, preferring to stay in political-institutional or geo-strategic phenomenology on one hand, and the difficulty of some Timorese in accepting such an analysis - even accusing it of neo-colonial for emphasing the difference in the socio-cultural and political structure confronted with the West - I think it can at least partly be interpreted as the difficulty in facing the terror, that is the fragility of the whole society and culture, indeed even in the West. The hypothesis of not facing the power of tradition is to reinvent it departing from experts who do know it. That is what the West did in the XIX century when ethnographers invented traditions that served the legitimization of the Nation-States and even the construction of nationalism.



The myths of origin of the crocodile that became Timor and of the two brothers present us, essentially, with four key messages that seem fundamental to understand the structure of the crisis in East Timor and, therefore, the current crisis and its resolution: 1. The existence of a unit is a sign of dedifferentiation. 2. The difference concerning the dedifferentiation is the function of a character who always comes from outside, who may or may not have origin, previously, in Timor. 3. That difference concerning the dedifferentiation may reach the limit of the need for a sacrifice (simulated or of replacement) of that “from the inside”. 4. The functional socio-cultural relation only takes place when there are two parties in opposition and in reciprocity. If we read both myths in the light of this analysis (which in fact follows in the wake of the works already mentioned by Fox, Traube, and specifically for the current situation, Hohe) we note that: 1. When the crocodile is alone in the first myth, as well as the brothers of the second myth, they represent a unit, that is, the world is still dedifferentiated. 2. In the myth of the crocodile, it is fixed while “a lively little boy passed the site” or “Chance made it possible for a girl to have passed there.” In the myth of the brothers, the first dedifferentiation (the fact that they are brothers) is solved by the very divinity (in the mambai myth, the Father Sky) or by the first ancestor, so someone between divinity and humanity. In the second dedifferentiation (when the older brothers fought each other) the resolution of the conflict takes place because of the return of the youngest brother. One way or another, it is an outsider that establishes the difference faced with dedifferentiation. 3. In the case of the myth of the crocodile it is clear that the ultimate solution confronted with dedifferentiation is the death of the crocodile. This solution is not completely satisfactory (because it is the result of violence) and that is why the sacrifice is camouflaged and the victim becomes deified. In the case of the brothers, the sacrifice implies a more symbolic death: it is the oldest brother who gives up part of the legitimacy he has on the land, granting political power to his youngest brother and only with ritual authority. 4. Finally the two myths point out that there is only a functional socio-cultural relation, that is, possibility of society (in the myth of the crocodile) and of culture (in the myth of the brothers) when there are two parties in opposition and reciprocity, enabling the flow of life. The journey in which the child rides the crocodile is an agreement that results from the exchange of opposite dreams, as well as from the agreement reached by the brothers is a function of complementary opposition between them, highlighted in the relationship oldest/youngest, inside/outside (land-sea or east-west), fertility/order, oral knowledge/written knowledge, etc. The interpretation of these myths allows us to understand, then, the crises in East Timor from a cultural perspective. As Hohe states “the idea of the socio-cosmic opposition of e-yB is formulated analogously on different levels of society. On every level life can only function through the connection of counter domains and the exchange of values between them.” (Hohe 2000: 8). Thus, the cultural crisis installed can be understood in light of a possibility of dedifferentiation that has become increasingly obvious:



1. when the youngest brother, associated with foreigners (the UN) responsible for political power, was gone, the country was only in the hands of the Timorese, of those from inside, of the oldest brothers. Such situation of unity implied the possibility of dedifferentiation. 2. although at an intra and inter clan level the complementary dualism is assured and such might even reach an inter-ethnic level (in the relation Mambai/Macassai or Makua/Fatalucos), there wasn’t a complementary dualism perfectly set at a national level. This situation of an empty unit or of a multiple fragmentation implied also the possibility of dedifferentiation. The only relation between Sacred Authority versus Political Power that can be understood according to the logic of myths, and even, according to a historical logic, was the relation between the Church and the Bishops on the one hand, and the State, on the other. The demonstration of 19 days between April 19 and May 8 could perhaps be understood as a ritual in the sense that it establishes the adequate reciprocities to ensure that the life flow could be settled. The absence of an appropriate reconciliation final of such ritual prevented the country from being considered as ‘maun alin’ or ‘Umane’, that is siblings due to family relationships (between clans) or to a political relation (between kingdoms). It is not for sure what the possibilities for dedifferentiation given above could be mitigated in light of a proper ritualization between Church and State. The Timorese nation needs to accept itself as dual (the identitary sedimentation lorosae-loromonu pointed that out) before becoming one and the youngest brother or sorot malae (foreign from the book/ knowledge) coming from outside (or that went out and returned) are too ancestral institutions to be given up. Now if these myths are not mere stories, rituals are the processes by which these myths operate socially and politically. The documentary about a ritual of reconciliation at an interclan level, that I produced in 2004 (Umane Mane Foun. The Return of Rituals) and whose images were captured in 2003, one year after the (Restoration) of Independence, it is of that a good example which may give us clues for similar processes at a national level. Two clans who join through marriage have a huge number of obligations and prohibitions that last for generations and whose failure raises the possibility of dedifferentiation, of chaos. Umane has three distinct meanings, according to Luís Costa (2000, p. 330): “Name that the relatives of the wife give themselves towards those of her husband. \ It is the relationship contracted between two families with marriage by hafoli, of two of its members. \ The same relationship of kinship exists between the subjects of two kingdoms, when a liurai marries, with hafoli, with the daughter of the other’s liurai.” For its part, hafoli means the traditional marriage that is most commonly named after the word malaia barlake (Costa, 2000, p. 106). Now Umane is then the terminology used to characterize the relationship that is created (brothers-in-law relationships, as sometimes the Timorese translated into Portuguese) between the two clans, or even between two kingdoms through a new man in the family (Mane Foun) or son-in-law. It is therefore the ideal model of kinship and politics (kinship and kingship) to be able to interpret the current political situation and its resolution in terms of thoughts and traditional Timorese social and political practices.



The situation in which the two clans were was already the threshold of dedifferentiation due to the non-complaiance of the rituals, being the cause of such failures the war, through the Indonesian occupation, and the rumors of mutual accusation – so the dedifferentiation itself was already the cause of the failure. The documentary shows a ritual of reconciliation that implied a previous agreement to be performed, as well as the preparation of a series of reciprocities that would be performed during the ritual, which unfolds through a tense dialogue between an old man and a young man, essentially, though with the presence of other old men and other young men, who serve as translators and mediators. The ritual involved a dialogue for several hours towards a climax in which the tension is maximum because each part (clan) assumes having blamed the other party (clan). It is in this climax that both parties embrace, holding, each one, the right hand of the other, making a movement of both arms as if from an emprisoned attack. In fact it is as if that hug was a simulation of double death and at the same time, the establishment of a new social level that includes the two clans.72 From there the whole process of reciprocity of goods begins (such as wine, money ...), which finishes in the sacrifice of an animal related to each of the clans, the buffalo as the representative of the clan who takes the woman, Mane Foun (young man or son-in-law) and the pig73 as the representative of the woman donor clan or Umane (the woman’s clan of origin). The relationship between the buffalo and the pig, respectively, the taker and donor clans of women, in East Timor, is described by many authors (Hicks, 1996). The sacrifice of these animals (requested, in prayer, to the ancestors) is a real sacrifice of replacement and the animal given by a clan can be sacrificed and eaten by the other, starting out a set of obligations relating to the animal that begins with the preparations for his death, the need to die in a certain way, the blessing of certain objects with its last breath, the distribution of meat, by saving some of their bones in certain places, etc. All prohibitions and social obligations that come with the ritual sacrifices embody a complexity of
72 See this email from the ETAN list, received on December 13, 2006, and interpreted in the light of this ritual moment. Flooding due to heavy rains easily evokes dedifferentiation while the hugs between the parties in internal mimetic violence represent the simulation of a double death and rebirth, while the words of Xanana about the trade relations between Australia and Timor represent a stabilization of the Flow of Life between the Outside and the Inside. In this mail it is clear as Xanana is acting as the governing Liurai that rules the ‘Flow of Life’ using all the symbols in a narrative with all the sense to re-establish the stability of flows and thus to enable reconciliation. “Flood-affected in Dili may be evacuated: Gusmao East Timor’s President Xanana Gusmao says there are plans to evacuate thousands of displaced people living in flooded refugee camps in the capital Dili if the situation deteriorates further. Mr Gusmao was in Sydney last night to address a business gathering at the New South Wales Parliament. There are fears of a new humanitarian emergency in the country, with torrential rains flooding low-lying areas, leaving many of the refugee camps in the capital submerged in water. Mr Gusmao says the Government has a strategy to move people from several of the camps to either new housing sites that are almost finished being built, or other temporary accommodation. “If the floods make [life] difficult, they will take the people out of there immediately,” he said. Mr Gusmao also broke down during a speech in which he described the fledging nation’s efforts to rebuild and unify after its troubled past. Mr Gusmao told members of the Australia-East Timor Business Council that the Government’s main priorities are to create jobs for young people and overcome the country’s ongoing security problems. But he became emotional when describing a show of unity between police and soldiers during a recent reconciliation march in the capital Dili, and similar scenes with rival gangs embracing each other. Mr Gusmao moved to assure Australia that East Timor is a safe place to do business, saying United Nations police numbers will soon be boosted to ensure stability.” 73 However, the sacrifice of the pig was only made retrospectively within the wife-taker clan.



social rights and duties expanded and therefore the structure of status and roles of the whole clan community, in its internal and external relations. Timorese society is a typically clan society, while the State was built according to a western ritual of transnationalization of modernity by creating an arena, perhaps latent, between different socio-political perspectives. The truth is that the construction of the State according to a western perspective seemed to be read following the traditional view of complementary dualism (especially due to the relation between Church and the State, and between Xanana and Alkatiri, perhaps even between the F-FDTL and the PNTL), but instead of having the places of Power and Authority classified and the relationships ritualized and mediated, the competition arised, the suspicion, the rumor and the guilt. Of course, there were key moments in breaking the fragile and tense balance – which requires cyclic rituals – of the socio-political complementary dualism: the break between Church and State and even, between Xanana and Alkatiri must have been evident as early as in the demonstration of the Church from April 19 to May 8, 2005, and the crisis that escalated in January 2006 revealed the internal divisions in each of the poles of that dualism, in the relationship of continuity between Xanana and the F-FDTL (East Timor Defence Force) and between the government and the PNTL; internally to the F-FDTL and internally to the PNTL, internally to the Government .... And internally to society, between Loromonu and Lorosae; and also internally, between gangs ... And of course, between Timor and Indonesia, between Timor and Australia, between Timor and Portugal, between Australia and Indonesia, between Australia and Portugal ... between China and the United States! When the ‘scapegoat’ mechanism was activated, the dialogic and dialectic game between ‘scapegoats’ from inside and outside was triggered as mimetic violence by means of the dualistic thought itself in East Timor. When the dedifferentiation achieved all, in a ‘struggle of all against all’, it is no longer important to know what has triggered the crisis and..., therefore, it is no longer important to continue to discover the various reasons for the crisis. The crisis became total just because everything dedifferenciated and, in that sense, it is a cultural crisis. Disclosure of such a situation is the one that is relevant! The only way out of a cultural crisis is through the recreation of the myth of origin and through the processes of ritual reconciliation it provides us, that is, by a national ritual prepared in detail; for a dialogue and a reflexivity of months that allows reaching a climax in which all assume themselves partly as guilty and for a mutual forgiveness of collective expression; for a set of donations and counter-donations involving all parties and whose ultimate goal is a redistribution – although almost symbolic – throughout the nation (perhaps a nation of clans and not of individuals), and finally one or more sacrifices of replacement, perhaps (but not necessarily) no longer through animals but in terms of more abstract forms. If political parties can play the clan’s role (not at a clan, but at a national level, of course) in the preparation of the ritual, the election campaign, time for the dialogue of contrition and promises, the period of reflection as a place of donations and counter-donations of a cultural nature and the election, itself, as the sacred place of the ‘postponed sacrifice’ as the poet says, it all depends on the ability of the culture of translation of “that who emerges from among the confusion unifying the motherland”. 74 Because Ramos Rosa interprets Girard when he
74 Elections will always be a ritual in the strictest sense of the term (that is, the community as a whole performs a dangerous passage, an inversion – so a disorder – and an institution). The passage and the institution may seem



writes This is how sovereign unity is reconstituted / with a blood that was not spilled / with the violence of the chaos and with the conciliation on the stone / of the sacrifice where nobody was sacrificed.

Thus, the challenge is to overcome the “clash of paradigms” (Hohe 2002), as Hohe75 called it and combine a ritual model that is readable by the traditional Timorese social and political thought as revealing, reconciling and that can, at the same time, plan a socio-political structure of the State in order to have modern and democratic institutions that reveal a dualistic balance consistent with the ‘renovation’ of the traditional socio-political thought. In short, the challenge is to combine a traditional rite of reconciliation with a rite of institution that makes possible the cultural leap of union among clans or kingdoms, performed on the sacrifice, for the construction of the homeland (which following Fox and the female role of the Authority in Timor should be Matria) made by the “sacrifice where nobody was sacrified”, if possible in a rai-klaran (land-of-the-middle), where the two different worlds (clan, ethnic and sovereign) may gather in translation. As Girard says, there are societies that have disintegrated themselves in the dedifferentiation and in the chaos and others that have found ephemeral balances in which the shadow of dedifferentiation is constant. It is necessary to find the places suitable for the maintenance of complementary dualism as social and political structure that enables the ‘flow of life’, that is the circularity of goods and people between the several dualities at all levels of Timorese society. Such complementary dualism must be carried out, specifically, in terms of institutional legitimacy, giving some institutions the Sovereign Symbolic Authority and others the Political Power. Regarding the problem of the need for a foreign power or the pattern of installation of the ‘outsider inside’, one possibility is that the state institution itself as a whole occupies this place (Hohe, 2000), implying, probably, such a situation, the process of estrangement of those from inside, that is, the exit of the Timorese ‘youngest brothers’ so that the human capital necessary to govern the country may have a formation, at least at a post-graduate level, abroad. Such a program could serve to legitimize the State as a whole, as an institution representative

obvious to the West but the inversion is not. East Timor, like many other societies, is a clan and hierarchical society, and the elections involve an egalitarian and individualistic society. The situation of an individual/one vote on a hierarchical society can only be accepted as a situation of ritual disorder that, by ending, enables a new order (the ritual of the institution), again hierarchical. It is pertinent that this issue between Homo Hierarchicus and Homo Equalia is taken into account and properly ritualized as a symbolic relationship that is between the ‘oldest brother/ insider’ and the youngest brother/outsider’. (Dumont, 1985 and Hohe, 2000). 75 Hohe wrote in 2002: “The example of East Timor dramatically indicates that state-building and democratization through international intervention require rethinking. Local ideas can only be transformed with the full consideration of existing systems or either: a) avoid the creation of anarchy or the collapse of the social system, or b) avoid the failure of intervention because it has in influence at all. The population’s trust in state-bodies has to be fostered and the puzzle of how to overcome pragmatic differences in terms of local governance has to be solved.” (2002: 586)



of the ‘youngest brother’, allowing thus the replacement, in continuity, of the pattern of installation of the ‘outsider inside’ (Fox, 1996a) by the pattern of the ‘estrangement of that from inside’.




The main focus of this paper is the political and social crisis that took place in East Timor, particularly in Dili, in 2006. A number of conflicts that began within the security forces and later reached parts of the civil society created a series of collective disturbances that were publicly justified by the disputes between people of Lorosa’e/ Firaku origins and those of Loromonu/Kaladi origins. I suggest that important aspects of the events leading to the ‘crisis’ can best be understood by taking into account the ways in which certain political and symbolic features were articulated: first, the historical background behind the structuring of East Timorese resistance to Indonesian occupation; and, second, the principle of reciprocity as a structuring force in local sociability (Fox, 1980a). I also discuss some of the aspects configuring two other recent social clashes in Timor: the 2005 disputes between the Catholic Church and the Fretilin Government [Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor)] over the teaching of religion in public schools; and the 2007 presidential elections. My main point is that the expectations of reciprocity and other cultural values amounted to a rendition of a Lorosa’e/ Firaku versus Loromonu/Kaladi regional opposition into a socio-political issue related to the process of nation-building. I analyse the way this regional opposition was exploited by certain actors at that time, as well as the recurring arguments leading to its politicisation during the 2005 and 2007 events just mentioned. Since 2006, both the East Timorese elite and intellectuals from various parts of the world have found it difficult to understand how the opposition between Firaku/ Lorosa’e and Kaladi/Loromonu became such a force in various social clashes (notably Seixas, 2007; Harrington, 2007; Curtain, 2006; Gonzalez Devant, 2008). In its less politicised current sense, this opposition simply constitutes a pair of categories that differentiate groups and individuals according to their regional origin. In some contexts it also expresses distinct and

76 This article was first published by Anthropological Forum vol. 20, nº 2, July 2010, Pp. 105-107 and is also available at I am grateful to the Discipline of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Western Australia and to Francis & Taylor Group for the permission to republish the article in this book. 77 This text is the result of research on the following projects: (1) ‘The nation in ballot boxes: Competing civilizing projects in the post-colonial East Timor context’, funded by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), that is, The National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, in Brazil; and (2) ‘Translating culture, culture of translation: Cultural negotiation as the central heritage in East Timor’, supported by Fundação de Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), that is, The Foundation for Science and Technology, in Portugal. I thank very much Alcida Ramos, Daniel Simião, Mariza Peirano, Sarina Kilham and the editors of Anthropological Forum for their help and patience in editing this text, and Luis Roberto Cardoso de Oliveira and the Anthropological Forum reviewers whose suggestions allowed me to reach the final version of this article.



opposing ethoses. Lorosa’e/Firaku individuals are said to have been born in the districts comprising the eastern region of the country (Viqueque, Lautém and Baucau), and are generally regarded as more extrovert and rebellious. Those called Loromonu/Kaladi were born in the ten districts that make up the western region (from Dili to Oecussi), and are said to be timid and reserved. Of course, it is not my intention to approach the ‘2006 crisis’ as the diffuse outcome of a supposedly primordial cultural fact. Each of the clashes that occurred in 2005, 2006 and 2007 had its own internal complexity involving the manipulation and concrete interests of persons and groups, which took place in a post-conflict atmosphere marked by a great dispute over access to material and symbolic goods. As everywhere, however, the political facts were embedded in specific socio-cultural dynamics. I shall try, therefore, to connect the Firaku/ Kaladi or Lorosa’e/Loromonu antagonism to other domains of the local symbolic universe as a means of examining the way in which these connections were sociologically built up. The article is divided into five sections. After briefly describing the 2006 crisis in the first section, I turn in the second to some academic interpretations and native theories about it. Thirdly, based on my fieldwork data gathered in 2007, I discuss two critical events of the crisis: the speeches delivered on television and radio networks in March and June 2006 by Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, then President of the Republic and former commander of FALINTIL [Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste (the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor)]. I suggest that these events synthesise the way in which the Lorosa’e versus Loromonu opposition was politicised, thus generating processes of regionalisation of social conflicts in East Timor. Such processes were affected by some historical contingencies that are also explored in this section. Fourth, I place the crisis in perspective by bringing in events related to other disputes that took place in East Timor in 2005 and 2007. Finally, I analyse some aspects of these events in light of the place the ideology of reciprocity occupies among some East Timorese populations. From this standpoint, I discuss some recurring features of local political dynamics that I regard as a catalyst for the politicisation of the regional identities78.

2. THE 2006 CRISIS
During the first semester of 2006, the state of East Timor and its capital city, Dili, were shaken by a series of events that were then rendered as ‘the crisis’. Its onset was connected to the rise of alleged discrimination and factionalism in the management of the country’s security forces, the F-FDTL [Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor- Leste (Defence Forces of East Timor)] and the PNTL [Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (National Police of East Timor)], which had been occurring since the first months of the restoration of independence. Such phenomena catalysed conflicts among the civil population in Dili, which resulted in the internal displacement of thousands of people, a temporary paralysis of the public adminis-

78 The data analysed were collected during field research in 2002, 2003 and 2007, and library and archival work carried out since 2000.



tration, approximately 30 deaths and the dissolution of the Government under Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. The first public signs of regional conflicts within the security forces date from January 2006, when President Xanana Gusmão received a petition signed by 159 F-FDTL regular soldiers. This document denounced discrimination within the institution and requested that measures be taken. It suggested that the F-FDTL cadres of Loromonu origin, that is, those born in the western part of the country, were being mistreated by their commanders. The petitioners (peticionários) alleged, among other things, that their access to job promotion was hindered and that they were subjected to insults by their commanders and fellow soldiers of Lorosa’e origin, who accused them of not having fought in the resistance movement during the Indonesian occupation. In the following months, the petition spurred a series of talks and attempts at negotiation between the Presidency of the Republic and the Mari Alkatiri Government together with high ranking cadres of the F- FDTL. As time went by the group of petitioners increased, as did tensions and rifts between Xanana Gusmão and the Fretilin Government. In March 2006, the petitioners totalled 591 under the command of Gastão Salsinha who, in turn, was a dissident of the F-FDTL command, having committed various disciplinary transgressions. In mid March, Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak ordered their expulsion from the F-FDTL. The conflicts in the armed forces progressively assumed greater political proportions, which were exploited to weaken the Fretilin Government. Clashes in the national police administration became public, thus exposing the split between those who had served the POLRI [Polisi Republik Indonesia (Indonesian Republic Police)], and the so-called nationalists who had participated in the East Timorese resistance79. Moreover, there were further actions on the part of the Minister of the Interior to coopt the Police so as to turn it into a force at the service of his political interests. The already existing tensions between the PNTL and the F-FDTL (Rees, 2004) gave rise to armed confrontations between and within both groups80. As these internal state conflicts became public and the feebleness of the security force more evident, civil disturbances in Dili mounted. On 27 March, 17 houses belonging to East Timorese of Lorosa’e origin were burnt down and some of the city’s residents from that region abandoned their homes and retreated to the districts, fearing reprisals on the part of Loromonu groups who were then beginning to launch their assaults (Gonzalez Devant, 2008). In this context, Gleno, the Ermera District administrative centre, which is located in the Lororomu/Kaladi western region, was transformed into the headquarters of the petitioners’

79 For a discussion of the tensions that permeated the formation of the F-FDTL and PNTL, see Rees 2004. 80 Control over the East Timor security forces is one of the main sources of political disputes in the country. Rees (2004) discusses this issue, pointing out the implications of these disputes: for the composition of the cadres of each of the forces; for the definition of the functions attributed to the F-FDTL and to the PNTL; for the way in which the veterans of the resistance have been opportunistically mobilised, so as to challenge the legitimacy of both institutions, among other things. In this context, it is worth pointing out that the legitimacy of the police has been under suspicion because part of its contingent (approximately 300 individuals in 2004, including the commander Paulo de Fátima Martins) had previously served in the POLRI (Police of the Indonesia Republic).



movement as they tightened their links with the parties opposing Fretilin, such as the PD [Partido Democrático (Democratic Party)] and the PSD [Partido Social Democrata (Social Democratic Party)]81. Most of the regular soldiers who remained obedient to the F-FDTL commander were of Lorosa’e origin, because to their opposition to the petitioners. In April 2006, a rumour circulated according to which the F-FDTL had perpetrated a massacre in Comoro, causing the death of 60 Loromonu people. This increased the flow of displaced people of Lorosa’e origin towards lands belonging to the Catholic Church and non-governmental organisations. On 25 May, PNTL contingents were attacked by F-FDTL soldiers, with nine casualties. The public clashes among the country’s leaders reached a climax in June 2006, when President Xanana Gusmão delivered a speech, which led as a consequence to the resignation of Mari Alkatiri. Along with the political disputes within the state, Dili faced the emergence of 120,000 people displaced from the city, most of them of Lorosa’e origin. According to Gonzalez Devant (2008), this was a preventative move on the part of the city dwellers to avoid more violence. There was fear of attacks by Loromonu youths mobilised to destroy property occupied by Lorosa’e people as the public security institutions were collapsing. The people responsible for the violence at that time were well known. They were mostly unemployed youths who acted in groups to burn down and/or destroy houses and other kinds of property. For Harrington (2007), such violent acts resulted from the synergy of three distinct types of actors: civilians who adopted a political stance in accordance with the regional factionalism that intersected state interest groups; organised gangs from Dili, whose actions were directed precisely towards the destruction of Lorosa’e ‘properties’; and political leaders who exploited the east–west opposition for political gain.

Various interpretations from distinct intellectual traditions have been proposed to explain the reasons for, and/or the phenomenology of, what became known as the East Timorese 2006 crisis82. In their inquiries into the underlying causes of the crisis or their attempts to reconstruct its trajectory, most commentators share the perception that the politicisation of

81 The story of the crisis is presented here as a very brief and schematic summary. For further details, see especially International Crisis Group, 2006; Harrington, 2007; Gonzalez Devant, 2008; UN, 2006. 82 Many authors have attributed the emergence and spread of the crisis to the incapacity of the Government and those responsible for the reconstruction of the country to handle public administration adequately and to build state institutions. In this respect, the political disturbances of 2006 are regarded as a result of several factors: mistakes made by the political leaders in handling the security forces (UN, 2006; International Crisis Group, 2006; Curtain, 2006); the inefficiency of the public administration in minimising material shortages and the vulnerability of the Dili population (Curtain, 2006); and management of land and property disputes in the post-conflict context (Harrington, 2007).



the social conflicts emerging from supposedly opposing regional identities, and the magnitude they achieved in Dili in 2006, were a recent, and even surprising, phenomenon83. In following this lead, I share Gonzalez Devant’s (2008) hypothesis in endeavouring to explain the dynamics of those 2006 conflicts. Based on a discussion of the central aspects of the crisis—massive displacements, their underlying regional identities and attending repertoires of violence—Gonzalez Devant suggests that its phenomenology produced the regional identities as a new categorical framework of understanding for the Dili population. Hence, she proposes that the process of regionalisation of social conflicts came into existence during the crisis as part of its dynamics, connected as it was to previous historical events. Gonzalez Devant (2008) agrees with Harrington’s (2007) arguments according to which the disturbances in Dili were, above all, a result of the tensions created by the occupation of real estate considered to be illegitimate in the post-1999 period. Harrington suggests that such occupation benefitted people of Lorosa’e origin; their houses were the main target of destruction in 2006. This occurred in the neighbourhoods where Indonesian civil servants used to live. Left unattended, their homes were taken over by migrants from the interior who moved into the city after 1999, when Indonesian occupation of East Timor came to an end. Nonetheless, it is important to note that in the city sections inhabited by people of Lorosa’e origin, it was the Loromonu people who suffered threats and retaliation. In this way, the idiom of regional opposition came to convey conflicts and clashes of an altogether different nature and origin. Harrington (2007) proposes that such regional categories served as an instrument of expression, whereas for Curtain (2006) they were a safety valve for social conflicts that previously had not found an adequate channel for their manifestation and/or resolution84. In light of these facts, some discussion is warranted of the processes that led to the politicisation of those categories and how they affected the dynamics driving the different segments of the Dili population into political action85. To clarify this process, it is crucial to take into account native theories about the ‘crisis’ as I learned them in the 2007 pre-electoral context. These theories clarify the terms in which the state conflicts were explained and assimilated by part of the population and the ways in which they were probably exploited for political purposes. The native accounts discussed below were enunciated from very precise and interested positions, that is, by cadres of national leadership that were not part of the displaced population. In most cases, they traced some sort of affinity among themselves through their opposition to Fretilin in the local

83 Seixas (2006b) points out how uncommon this opposition is in the colonial literature about Portuguese Timor and how both terms, Firaku and Kaladi, were used in that context in a way similar to the references made to the bárbara (‘barbarian’) people of the hills, as opposed to the inhabitants of the flatlands regarded as being more civilised. 84 For an excellent inventory of the disputes that pervaded the process of nation building in East Timor, see Scambary 2009. 85 It is worth noting that the report by the Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação (CAVR), that is, the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, which was the product of the most profound and extensive research about recent East Timorese history (since the 1970s), makes no reference to the tensions between people or groups of Lorosa’e/ Firaku and Loromonu/Kaladi origin (Gonzalez Devant, 2008).



political scenario and by evoking their common experience of resistance to the Indonesian occupation from inside East Timor.

‘São as palavras que fazem a guerra [Words make war]’.
(Maria Dias, pers. comm.)

Social envy and corruption were two of the themes brought up to explain the coming of the crisis. Also perceived as unfair was the accumulation of material goods by some to the detriment of others, when all had fought so hard to achieve independence. These arguments were raised, above all, to justify why Loromonu people had damaged the houses occupied by Lorosa’e in the civil disturbances in Dili. This happened because some Lorosa’e were said to be getting rich by exploiting property not legally theirs. Another recurring issue in the native theories was the arrogance and/or lack of consideration on the part of certain Fretilin leaders, especially those who had been abroad, in their treatment of the people who had endured so much suffering during the Indonesian occupation. For instance, my interlocutors evoked the derogatory references made by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to those who graduated in Indonesia as supermie86 and to East Timorese as people who did not wash their hair. The public expression of conflicts among state authorities was another element many of my interlocutors often recalled to explain the outbreak of the crisis. According to the latter, government authorities lost their ‘dignity’, ‘respect’ and part of their legitimacy by disagreeing, arguing or criticising one another in public. As a consequence, they were no longer regarded as exemplary models for the population, which in turn lost respect for the state itself. In this context, to have dignity means to be recognised for occupying a hierarchical position of such importance as to deserve deference and obedience. To reach and maintain such a position requires proper behaviour, which precludes offending other people in public. In this sense, men, government activities and words are all lumped together in a common identity and agency. Thus, to express disapproval of a political decision is also to reject and to disrespect the person responsible for it, which can have unforeseen consequences. It is said that nobody knows what will happen when people are publicly offended87. Based on this rationale, many of my interlocutors, all connected to different political forces, implied that President Xanana Gusmão’s speeches of March and June 2006 were vital to the triggering of the conflicts as they were configured at that moment.

86 Supermie is a popular brand of noodles sold in Indonesia, which is considered to be cheap and easily prepared. 87 Some of my interlocutors stressed that, unlike other places in the world where the expression of conflict and differences in public space are not problematical, they are extremely dangerous in Timor and may cause social unrest. They generate hatred among the people who, observing conflicts within the political leadership, identify themselves with one or another politician. Soares (2003: 13) presented similar findings based on study of the political climate in East Timor in 2002.



I now discuss two such speeches by the President at that time, and their contexts. As it happens, both were the very sources of meaning that defined the way the opposition between Lorosa’e and Loromonu was politically exploited. I base my analysis on the assumption that the Xanana Gusmão speeches, besides reporting facts, had the power to create them and, up to a point, plan their effects in a demonstration of what Austin (1999, pp. 109–120) called the ‘illocutionary’ and ‘perlocutionary’ power of words. This effect is due to Xanana’s place in East Timor public space. More than a President, he was the great hero in the country’s liberation, having figured for years as the supreme commander of the Falintil and of all East Timorese resistance. In addition, words in Timor have the power of performing actions. As Simião (2005) points out, it is not by chance that the local authorities responsible for the processes of adjudication are called lia nain (‘owners of the word’), while the processes themselves are known as tetu lia (literally, ‘to weigh words’), and putting together the ‘sentence’, tesi lia (‘to cut a word’). Inspired by Gonzalez Devant’s (2008) interpretive matrix, I suggest that Xanana’s speeches and the violence that erupted among the state security forces triggered off the ‘parochialisation’ and ‘nationalisation’ (Tambiah, 1996, p. 266) of regional opposition in Dili as a means of justifying a series of events that engulfed the city in the following months. I use the concepts of parochialisation and nationalisation as defined by Tambiah to refer to some parts of the episodes that are common to riots in southern Asia. This pair of concepts refers to the processes by means of which arguments created in the central spaces of political articulation and narration (such as the state) to explain certain conflicts spread throughout society. As a consequence of this diffusion, further events that were not originally related to the initial ones become politicised through similar arguments. It is noteworthy that, from different perspectives, the three arguments comprising native theories about the crisis—social envy, lack of recognition, and the public expression of conflicts among authorities—are all connected to expectations of reciprocity and, we might say, to the moral order of economies of reciprocity (Mauss, 1974 [1925]). Both the ‘social envy’ and ‘lack of recognition’ themes, as discussed above, became politicised when they were articulated with the people’s engagement in the struggle for independence, as those involved expected to receive an appropriate counter-gift. Moreover, the disruptive power of Xanana’s statements is explained in terms of the mutual identification between people, things/actions (here understood as public policies) and words.

In a televised speech on 23 March 2006, Xanana criticised the decision of the East Timor Government to expel the 591 petitioners from the F-FDTL. He exposed the fissure that existed between state institutions and their leaders. In spelling out his own initiatives to manage the crisis and the responses he allegedly obtained, he displayed elements that had been used as fuel for various political disputes in the country.



While many people conjectured about the existence of discrimination among the F-FDTL cadres of Lorosa’e and Loromonu origin, Xanana, in his speech, affirmed this as a fact. He connected the discrimination to schemes for creating unofficial hierarchies (and thus subordination) within F-FDTL cadres, which were constituted as such according to the roles played by people from different regions in the fight for independence. In this way, the President brought to public attention the fact that the organisational strength and intensity of suffering on the part of the Falintil in the eastern and western parts of the country were used to legitimise the positions occupied in the F-FDTL. What follows are two short passages of Xanana’s speech in March 2006: On 11 January, I received a petition signed by some military members of the 1st Battalion in Lospalos, presenting the issue of discrimination between ‘loromonu-lorosa’e’... In the petition, they stated that some Veterans [of the Falintil] usually said that ‘Only the people of eastern part of Timor-Leste are the independence fighters and not of the western part’, and ‘if they, the veterans of the eastern part of Timor-Leste had not fought for independence, then people of western part would not be recruited as F-FDTL’. With such discrimination, the promotions were only for soldiers of eastern part... I asked the Minister of Defense to see that there should not be Veterans or Fighters inside F-FDTL as the State Institutions, there should not be, Veterans or non Veterans (sic). The fighters should bear in mind that they were freedom Fighters or Heroes only up to August 1999, and today they are military members like any other. I also asked them to correct such behavior within F-FDTL since the Veterans should think that they are old, and they would be retired some day. Such behaviors might creating (sic) an environment where the new soldiers will be wondering when will the Veterans be retired, so that F- FDTL could become professional. And no more such thing like ‘I was one who suffered in the past, I was one who made the war, I was one who killed many enemies, and if we had not made the war, you would not have become F-FDTL members’.88 (Xanana Gusmão, 2006a; original delivered in the Tetum language) On 22 June 2006, Xanana was once again on television, this time to address the results of the National Congress of Fretilin, in which the Alkatiri group leadership in the party had been reinstated through voting techniques that were questioned by many. Xanana openly criticised those results and the way in which the crisis had been handled by the state authorities. He thus recalled the history of resistance and the way in which many of the involved, now state authorities, had behaved during the Indonesian occupation. Xa-

88 Furthermore, Xanana Gusmão made public the hypotheses raised by Colonel Lere and the then Minister of Defence, Roque Rodrigues, regarding the origin of the demands presented by the petitioners. To Colonel Lere, they were the result of political manipulation orchestrated by the Democratic Party that had been joined by veteran Decker. To Roque Rodrigues, Gusmão meant that the politicisation of the regional identities could be the product of certain international advisers interested in destabilising the country following orders from their governments. Xanana closed his speech by affirming that, owing to the cowardly decision taken by the Brigadier-General of the F-FDTL, the petitioners were already civilians, and the Timorese state had been ill born.



nana then revealed, as had never been done before, some of the political disputes that had moulded relations between the different fronts of East Timorese resistance. He also tried to relate this past to the political behavior profile of the then current Fretilin leadership. He described the process, which he had led, of Falintil autonomisation (before the Fretilin) until the creation of the CNRT [Conselho Nacional da Resistência Timorense (National Council of Timorese Resistance)]. He also pointed out the difficulties in achieving his projects because of the alleged interests of the Fretilin members who were abroad. He recalled his efforts to ensure that the resistance command would stay with those who were in East Timor. He then recollected some of the events that took place after the 1999 United Nations-organised referendum over the preferred political status of East Timor in relation to the Republic of Indonesia, strategically pointing out aspects of the crisis related to the political history of certain leaders in the country. He summoned the spirits of the dead (particularly Nicolau Lobato, killed by the Indonesian army in 1978 and considered a national hero) to manifest themselves and testify in relation what was happening in the country, as well as other leaders of the resistance who, like him, were outside Fretilin. Finally, Xanana asked the people to blame Mari Alkatiri for the crisis; otherwise, he would propose his own resignation the following day: As it is they who know everything, in this corner of the Earth where all the people are ‘supermie’ [see note 11], the Fretilin Congress, formed a short time ago, can violate the law that they themselves have made... Today, a small group, coming from abroad, wants to repeat the behavior that we had from 1975 to 1978... In Mozambique, Rogério attempted to acquire pengalaman (experience) so that they would kill each other, and Ramos-Horta was arrested. At that time, President Chissano, still Minister of Foreign Affairs, is the one who went to free them. If you think I am given to lying, ask them why it was they who were at peace to study, to become Ph.Ds, for 24 years in Mozambique... We saw that, instead of putting into their thoughts the suffering of the people, they ate each other so as to seize the seat of the President of the Fretilin and later attempt to command the fight abroad. Because, in the mountains, there was nobody seeking seats, they only sought to serve so as to pursue the fight... It was under the hat of the CNRM [National Council of Maubere Resistance] and the CNRT that the people won in August 1999. This is history, history of resistance, history of suffering, history of blood. Nowadays, we hear that it was only the Fretilin who fought the battle. It doesn’t matter, it is you who are the owners of the struggle... I know that Nicolau Lobato is sad. Nicolau Lobato does not ask that his name be placed everywhere. He does not need it. What he asks for is only this: that they respect his fight to liberate this land and this People, that they only respect his blood.



Spirits and Ancestors, rise up to look after these people! Bones that are scattered everywhere, stand up. Blood that was spilt everywhere, unite again to see those who want to destroy the people, who want to see the people suffer forever, who always want to see the people dead. Show yourselves, show your power! Your child is here, who implores you to look after this People, to liberate this People from the yoke of the bloodthirsty. (Xanana Gusmão, 2006b; my free English translation of the Portuguese translation of the original speech delivered in the Tetum language). A longtime opponent of Fretilin, the President sided with the Loromonu/Kaladi F-FDTL cadres as early as March 2006. In his public speeches, he targeted his criticisms at Fretilin by repeatedly associating it with the few of its current leaders who had been in exile during the occupation. For example, in his March speech, he suggested that the Minister of Defence at the time, Roque Rodrigues, did not address the F-FDTL regular soldiers because of his alleged lack of legitimacy, since he ‘had not made the war’. In the June speech, Xanana stated that those who controlled Fretilin had just recently returned from abroad after spending the occupation years studying in Mozambique, insinuating that they had been living the good life. In telling his version of the history of the resistance, he suggested that those in exile were more interested in seeking command posts than in attending to the people’s suffering, unlike those, like himself, who took to the bush. The exile experience of those who led Fretilin at that time was used by Xanana as a major reason for weakening them politically. This experience was turned into evidence of privilege, providing them with the possibility of acquiring knowledge and other forms of social capital, to the detriment of the solidarity expected of them toward the East Timor people under Indonesian occupation. In his speeches Xanana reproduced statements that were extremely degrading to the population by attributing them to the Fretilin cadres who returned in 1999 or to persons associated with them. The President suggested that the Loromonu cadres of the F-FDTL were being approached as the ‘offspring of the militia’. He stressed the perception, politically exploited for some years, that those in command of the Government insulted and misrecognised the people’s misery. He accused them of disregarding the people’s efforts against Indonesian occupation, and of devaluing the education those who stayed in the country acquired from Indonesia. Underlying all this was the vision Xanana attributed to Fretilin: that the Lorosa’e had fought more for independence than the Loromonu. In this way he indirectly suggested that the alleged positive discrimination of the F-FDTL Lorosa’e cadres showed this unequal recognition. With his narratives during the crisis, Xanana called attention to the fundamental role he played in the resistance, suggesting that his actions were much more important, much closer to the people, than those of the people who fought for independence from abroad. In that context, he presented himself as a spokesperson and symbol for all East Timorese engaged in the resistance who had been feeling ignored, put aside or discriminated against since 1999. In identifying himself with the Loromonu cadres of F-FDTL, Xanana used the regional issue to express feelings of injustice against the backdrop of expectations of reciprocity, and the history of resistance that pervaded the East Timorese nationbuilding process. Behind his explicit statements, there was an accusation of ingratitude.



This is the reason why Xanana emphasised his legacy and that of all East Timorese in their quest for freedom during Indonesian occupation. Implied in his speech was a demand for a proper counter-gift. Xanana’s pronouncements in Dili ignited resentment and a feeling of insecurity among the population that stimulated displacements, leaving a void that was filled by collective acts of destruction perpetrated by youth gangs. On 26 June 2006, Mari Alkatiri resigned his position as Head of Government, and in some parts of Dili Loromonu youths took to the streets to celebrate this fact. Conflicts among the civil population began to be manifested with more violence and frequency, justified by the existence of supposed quarrels between Firaku and Kaladi, Lorosa’e and Loromonu, the product of the nationalisation and parochialisation (Tambiah, 1996) processes of clashes in the state. If it is true that these youths were mobilised because they received money and other assets, as Harrington (2007) indicates, I propose that another motivation was the appeal to the history of the resistance directly or indirectly connected to expectations of reciprocity. At the time Xanana delivered his speech on 22 June 2006, the majority of the political forces in opposition to Fretilin, including the Catholic Church, were united around him. Furthermore, many grassroots and political leaders from the opposition parties were of Loromonu origin. The term ‘Loromonu’ thus became a symbol identifying those who opposed Fretilin, the members of which were, in addition, labelled as Lorosa’e by their opponents. That was when the opposition to Fretilin began to take shape publicly as opposition to the Lorosa’e. From then on, regional antagonism was often evoked to convey conflicts of a quite different order. A set of elective affinities including Xanana, the opposition parties, petitioners and Loromonu came into existence, which made sense against yet another such set comprising Mari Alkatiti, F-FDTL, Fretilin and Lorosa’e. I suggest that the shape these events took is the product of a series of historical facts as they were filtered by the ideology of reciprocity.

In most places where colonial liberation wars have been waged, guerrillas have taken up the central role in the nation’s political dynamics, especially in the first decades after independence. East Timor is no exception. The ties of solidarity built with the population by Falintil guerrillas in the years of Indonesian occupation raised the status of Falintil veterans to that of essential figures in the politics played by the East Timor elite. In consequence, as Rees (2004, pp. 49–55, 58) indicates, ascendancy over the different groups in which the veterans are organised has been an object of dispute among the various social actors. Since 2001, when the demobilisation of the Falintil took place, the East Timor political parties have contended for the allegiance of the former guerrillas. They are regarded as assets who will help enlarge the support bases of the parties in regions where such veterans were born or where they fought during occupation. Given the historical legacies of resistance, the F-FDTL was structured in such a way as to include individuals of Lorosa’e origin in the principal positions of command (Rees, 2004). This



fact was politically exploited both by F-FDTL officials and those opposed to Fretilin, and was a direct outcome of the history of resistance, including the period of bases de apoio (‘grassroots support’). During the occupation, the Falintil operated and recruited more intensely in the eastern region for a number of reasons: first, the Indonesian occupation was launched from East Timor’s land frontier with Indonesia, that is, from the west of the country; second, being stronger in the west, the Indonesian military forces left the eastern part less patrolled for long periods of time and hence more open to guerrilla action (Mattoso, 2005). Although, in general, Falintil operations were quite feeble throughout its whole period of existence, Mattoso (2005, p. 194) shows that it was particularly vulnerable in the western region. When Xanana Gusmão was imprisoned in November 1992, the Falintil had only fifteen fighters and six weapons at the fronteira sul (southern border) region, and the space of its operations had been reduced by two thirds. Moreover, there are signs suggesting that between 1999 and 2005 former Falintil cadres of Lorosa’e origin, such as Lu Olo, Mau Hunu and Somotxo, among others, declared themselves to be on the Fretilin side. On the other hand, many leaders of what were then opposition political parties, also former cadres of the armed resistance, were of Loromonu origin. For instance, among the national leadership of the Democratic Party, over which Xanana Gusmão exercised great power, were ex-commanders Dudu, Fitun, Sesurai, Decker, and others, who, being of Loromonu origin, guaranteed many votes for the Democratic Party in districts of the western region. Riak Leman, a Social Democratic Party partisan, is also of Loromonu origin. In his pioneering discussion of the configuration of East Timor political parties in 1999, Soares (2003, pp. 265–96) identifies the opposition between Larosa’e and Loromonu as a matter of classification principles around which the disputes among the elite were organised. As in 2006, the politicisation of regional membership came about through reference to historical facts relating to the dynamics of resistance that addressed the issue of who had fought and suffered most to restore independence, and the expectations of being rewarded with privileged access to state resources and institutions. There are, however, indications that the politicisation of social conflicts along regional lines was, until 2006, limited to politics and to gangs associated with old members of the guerrilla movement. Soares suggests that regional differences among ordinary people amounted to no more than a folkloric matter, there being no restrictions on exchange or alliances through marriage between easterners and westerners.

Demands for ‘proper recognition’ and accusations of ‘misrecognition’ have been a constant issue in current East Timor political dynamics. Definitions of these terms, such as those proposed by Cardoso de Oliveira (2007a, pp. 5–9) are useful in understanding the pattern of discourses that underlies political disputes in East Timor. This author suggests that important dimensions of the clashes in contemporary societies are produced by misrecognition, which is perceived as a kind of moral insult. Although granting that the specific ways in which moral insult is perceived change from case to case, Cardoso de Oliveira suggests



that, by and large, it results from sentiments that are triggered when the subject detects in his interlocutor a distancing or lack of deference toward his identity, thus limiting his access to certain rights. The Catholic Church used the issue of misrecognition politically in the protests it organised between April and May 2005 against the draft proposal to change the curricular statute of the teaching of religion in East Timor public schools (Silva, 2008). During those protests, the range of demands on the state grew so much as to include the Prime Minister’s resignation. After at least two frustrated attempts at negotiation, the conflict was brought to a close with a joint declaration of the State and Church hierarchy, by means of which the Government relinquished its project and publicly declared the Church’s role as important and valuable. For my present purpose, let us bear in mind the terms the Catholic Church used to legitimise its protests against the Government89 and to amass popular support. The Church’s initial axiomatic reason for maintaining the teaching of religion as a requirement in public schools—an intrinsic relationship among public education, morality, citizenship rights, national identity and Catholicism—had little impact. Thereafter, it built its demands around the lack of consideration it received from the Government. In a pastoral note issued in February 2005, the Church highlighted the role it had played during occupation, when it had provided spiritual and material comfort to those persecuted by the invaders. This being so, the Church declared on occasion that the curriculum favoured by the State had the support of those who had been abroad during the Indonesian occupation. It further complained that it had never been invited by the Government to discuss the new primary curriculum before its approval in the Council of Ministers, despite all the services it had dispensed to the nation. Below is a declaration by Father Domingos Maubere, reproduced on page 1 of the newspaper, Suara Timor Lorosa’e, 5 May 2005: “The Catholic Church will be together with the baptised throughout Timor’s countryside, rising up and crying out to prevent the government from becoming a bad payer. Those who truly suffered in the war, the veterans, the poor and the widows, received no consideration when independence came! This is a great burden, and the Church has a moral responsibility to join with the baptised in controlling the bad payer.” (My emphasis and free translation from the original Tetum language) In that same statement, Father Domingos Maubere classified the Fretilin Government as a ‘dictatorship of the ‘‘bad payer’’’, of the ungrateful, for proposing a public policy the Church regarded as a denial of its importance in the achievement of independence. Further comments had it that, during the months before the Church protests over the school curriculum, the Government had cancelled the transfer of public funds to the Church. In that context, the label of ‘bad payer’ indicated that Government leaders were disregarding the morals of reciprocity in relation to the Catholic Church, despite its role in the struggle for independence.

89 For a more comprehensive analysis of the development of the conflicts between the Catholic Church and the Fretilin Government on that occasion, see Silva (2008).



As an observer of the 2007 presidential electoral campaigns, I noticed the persistent recurrence of questions concerning the relationship among suffering, recognition and reciprocity. A common feature in the candidates’ campaigns was the constant reference to the suffering (terus) and the difficulties (susar) of the East Timorese, both in the past and in the present. The sharing of suffering was presented as the core experience that had united the voters, even defining them as East Timorese. In this way the candidates sought to transform their histories of sacrifice into symbolic capital that made them deserve the trust (fiar) and the votes of the electorate. Testimonies and images of pain and misery were displayed in various campaigns, in speeches, and in the actual composition of the stages on which the former Falintil guerrillas had an important role. Guerrilla veterans were treated as symbols of terus, which led to great disputes over their support (Silva, 2009). The presence of Falintil veterans or of people who had been active in the resistance was very common and highly desired in the campaigns of nearly all parties. Here I point out the role the former guerrillas played in the elections as a way of summarizing my assumptions at the beginning of this text. On 25 April 2007, I attended a rally promoted by Fernando Lassama (PD) in Ermera, a Loromonu region. As I waited for the arrival of the PD followers, one of the party’ young leaders commented to me that it would be no use to the party for him to get on the stage and make a speech because people would not even listen to him. That would happen, he said, because he had not been in the mountains suffering with the local population. People did not know who he was, and hence did not trust him. That was why those who resisted in the bush played a fundamental role. He went on to say that the organisation of the rally was due to two members of the party in the district who fitted that pattern, that is, former guerrillas Dudu and Fitun. It was not by chance that ex-commander Dudu was on the stage, sitting on the left-hand side of Fernando Lassama, the Democratic Party presidential candidate. In 2006, the alleged reasons for the regional conflicts between some people of Lorosa’e and Loromonu origin were hardly exceptional, considering the issues deployed in the clashes that occurred in East Timor in 2005 and 2007. The expectations of recognition and fair compensation for the sacrifices made by different segments of the population during the Indonesian occupation have been of public concern for some years. As we have seen, these are precisely the ideas connected to the logic of reciprocity that has led to the politicisation of regional identities in post-colonial East Timor. In this scenario, it is worth mentioning that the ethnology of the various peoples located in the political frontiers of what is known today as East Timor indicates how central the principles of alliance and reciprocity are in the organisation of different dimensions of collective life (Fox, 1980). The articulation and reproduction of the relationships between uma (‘houses’) are based on exchange obligations sealed by marriage with the parties committed to providing ritualised reciprocal services. Regarding the Makassae, Forman (1980, p. 153) suggests that exchange is the language of life cosmologically and pragmatically manifested. He discusses various ritual contexts in which actions are oriented so as to reproduce the flow of reciprocity between human and supernatural agents, with the purpose of recovering social equilibrium via cooperation between opposing but complementary agents. As Traube (1980, p. 305) also observed among



the Mambai, death was perceived as a counterpoint to life, as a necessary process of land fertilisation that is ultimately also responsible for the formation of rain and dew, considered to be the blood of the sky that returns to humans to enhance their reproductive powers. The idea of compensation as a principle of justice (Simião, 2005, pp. 168–171) and a guide for relationships also appears in the literature about East Timor as an important dimension of social dynamics. The marriage exchanges known as barlaque or hafolin are regarded as fundamental for the enforcement of collaborative relationships between the ‘houses’. In groups of patrilineal descent and virilocal residence, it is generally expected that the donor ‘house’ of a woman should receive a substantial bridewealth as compensation from the house to which the woman is given. Moreover, a series of duties and promises of cooperation are contracted with the house that offers its woman in marriage. McWilliam (2005, p. 35) also suggests that part of the success of East Timorese resistance against Indonesian occupation in the villages was due to the collaboration between umas (‘houses’) connected by kinship ties. Resistance networks could be articulated thanks to the alliance between houses and the expectation that their duties of collaboration would be observed. In describing how the nationalist discourse was appropriated by the Mambai, Traube (2007a) asserts that this appropriation was guided by the cultural code of reciprocity. It is expected that those who suffer while achieving some sort of common benefit should be rewarded. In her fieldwork among the Mambai between 2000 and 2001, Traube observed that the pain people tolerated during the fight for independence was related to the injustice committed against Tat Felis, a martyred missionary. She suggests that, in treating Tat Felis’s agony as an issue, the Mambai expressed their demands for reparation to the political leaders for their own suffering during occupation. These are the same themes - suffering, sacrifice, resistance, reparation, compensation, consideration, reciprocity - that have been evoked in discourses about political legitimacy among the East Timor elite involved in the clashes of 2005, 2006 and 2007 discussed here. Such themes are a fundamental part of the political dispute repertoire. Differential engagement in the resistance movement and the amount of pain resulting from it constitute the basis for both demands for greater or lesser legitimacy, and accusations of unfair treatment by various people, in different contexts ranging from the Catholic Church to the Security Forces. The antagonism between Lorosa’e/Firaku and Loromonu/Kaladi became a political issue in 2006, in part because of the way in which it was settled by the local leaders. Whether it was intentional or not, the fact is that the regional opposition touched on a fundamental aspect of East Timorese sociability, that is, the observance of reciprocity and compensation rules as expressed, among other things, in terms of ritual manifestations of recognition and respect. Taking into account the history of resistance, the process of regionalisation of social conflicts in East Timor somehow seems to have brought the ideology of reciprocity up to date. The widely publicised insinuation that some people were spared great sacrifices, while



others went through martyrdom, comprises a scenario of denial of recognition, here understood as a moral insult, an act of aggression (Cardoso de Oliveira, 2007b) that carries a high degree of disruptive power in a context where ‘words make war’. We might well ask whether in the circumstances, or in societies where the ideology of reciprocity is so basic, the observance of the principle of recognition would not in and of itself be a sort of counter-gift.

One year after the peak of the 2006 crisis, the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections pointed to a regionalisation of the country’s modern political forces. In both electoral campaigns, Fretilin, up until then the largest political party, won in the eastern or Lorosa’e districts of Lautém, Viqueque and Baucau, whereas the opposition parties received the majority of votes in the western districts from Dili to Oecussi (RDTL, 2007). Among the various factors contributing to this scenario, most important was the tendency of the Falintil veterans of Loromonu origin to join the opposition parties, whereas those of Lorosa’e origin adhered to Fretilin, which in turn was aligned with the state, of which the F-FDTL are a part. During the presidential campaign, the ordeal of Falintil’s former members was rather overtly exploited by associating them with the candidate or party they supported. When these veterans acted as mediators in the process of widening the scope of state modern institutions to reach out to ‘traditional’ and/or ‘local’ leaders and entities in the interior, they, and the 2006 petitioners, assumed a crucial role in the regionalisation of the country’s social conflicts. The participation of former guerrillas in current political disputes—the outcome of the resistance movement and the twentieth-century elite formation—is intensified by the appeal to expectations that suffering must be rewarded. Perhaps the agonistic idiom used in the 2005 disputes between the Church and the Government in the 2006 crisis and in the 2007 elections is a reminder of the principle of reciprocity and, hence, of prospects of compensation updated on demands for respect, votes, political support and so on. In the process of nation building, these expectations are politically deployed and translated in terms of modern technologies of assertion, such as voting and their less noble form, collective violence.





Antes de mais nada, tenha-se presente que o termo barlaque não é usado pelo timor senão quando fala ao malae, indivíduo particular ou entidade oficial” (Duarte90 1964, p.92). For Timor-Leste few social institutions are more iconic than the barlaque. It occurs among all of the ethnic groups91 in the country and almost certainly is found in every suku. Nevertheless, the institution seems not to be understood by the malai nor fully appreciated by some Timorese, especially those working for international agencies such as the United Nations, and my intention in this essay is to present a summary description of some of its main features and argue its value for Timorese society. The term barlaque refers to three forms of marriage which in the Tetum language are known as the fetosa-umane92, the hafoli, and the habani. In the first two forms the bridegroom’s descent group gives a bridewealth or brideprice (folin) to the bride’s descent group93. The fetosa-umane – which is known by a number of technical terms in social anthropology, among them “asymmetric alliance” -- constitutes what I call “its exemplary form” and I focus upon it here. According to its protocols the contracting descent groups are involved in a system of marriage alliances and mutual exchange of prestations that may cover generations and incorporate many aspects of social life. In mainland as well as maritime Southeast Asia local variations of the Timorese fetosa-umane are defining features of the societies found there. These societies include the Kachin of northern Burma (Leach 1951), Lamet of Cambodia (Needham 1960), various Batak groups of Sumatra (Rodgers 1984), and the Rindi of eastern Sumba (Forth 1981). The existence of asymmetric alliance in Timor has long been known94. Dutch administrators and scholars have described and analyzed it in western Timor and in Timor-Leste we find among the first writers to mention the barlaque being the English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1869) who was followed by a fellow countryman, Henry O. Forbes (1884), in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Forbes’ itinerary overlapped with that of Wallace’s and confirmed the description Wallace had given about marriage practices in the south-central region of Timor-Leste. Administrator Armando Pinto Corrêa’s book Gentio de Timor (1935), about half of which discusses Makassai institutions, provided far more information about the barlaque than either Wallace or Forbes, or indeed any other writer up to that time. In

90 First of all it must be noted that the term barlaque is only used by Timorese when speaking to malae, whether to an ordinary individual or to an official (my translation). 91 By an “ethnic group” I mean “a group whose members share basic cultural traditions and values and a common language, and who identity themselves and are identified by others as distinct from other such groups”. 92 There are several dialectal variations for this term (see below). 93 Bridewealth may therefore be regarded as the opposite of the dowry, the gifts the bride’s family gives to the husband’s. 94 The literature on the barlaque, though not voluminous, is not insignificant. Besides the works referred to in the text an interested reader would find the following useful: Cunningham (1967) and Hicks (1973; 1978a; 1981; 1983; 1986; 1987; 1989; 1990; 2004) while for asymmetric alliance elsewhere see Leach (1951) and Needham (1962).



contrast to these descriptive works is the theoretical contemporary study of Lourenço Marques da Silva’s, which is entitled Barlake Tuir Lisan Emar Makasae-Soba (2003), and is of special interest since he is himself a Makassai from Ossu. Paradoxically, given the degree to which it is embedded in most local communities, some Timorese and many malai have come to find serious fault with this institution. The grounds for their criticism include a claim that it amounts to purchasing a woman and thus demeans the status of womanhood. These are the two criticisms I shall attempt to refute here. In the view of these critics the barlaque (whether in its exemplary form or in an alternative form) needs to be replaced by something more attuned to malai sensibilities. The first rejoinder to such criticism is that negative assessments leveled against the barlaque are grounded in the false assumption that the institution is simply one of marriage. In his Tetum-Portuguese dictionary, for example, Luís Costa (2000, p.50) provides the following definition of the term barlaque as “marriage; a matrimonial contract (according to traditional usages and customs) which involves an exchange of goods of equivalent value between the families of the affianced couple” (my translation from the Portuguese). Geoffrey Hull’s (2002, p.34) dictionary defines the barlaque as a “traditional marriage contract involving the payment of brideprice”. As far as they go both definitions are consistent with the nature of the barlaque but what they fail to remark is that the barlaque, more particularly in its exemplary form, encompasses considerably more aspects of Timorese society than merely marriage. Ernest Brandewie and Simon Asten (1976, pp.19-39), by contrast, even go so far as to define the entire society of the Northern Tetum of western Timor in terms of asymmetric alliance and emphasize its transcendent role: “ ... the arrangement of society [my emphasis] into fettosawa-umamane [sic] lineages, with the approved variations on this theme, is what stabilizes marriage, identifies and allocates children to their proper place in society, and generally organizes their social world for the Northern Belunese”. And Arthur Maurice Hocart (1933, p.258), commenting upon the place of marriage in societies that show a similar structured character as we find in Timor, remarks that “The system then is not based on marriage, but marriage is regulated by the system”. The barlaque’s sociological importance derives from it being what Marcel Mauss imagined as a “total social phenomenon”, a complex of collective representations (représentations collectives) embracing society’s most important values in the fields of social, political, and economic relationships, symbolism, social identity, gender, and ritual. Nor is this all since it establishes and maintains social integration between descent groups and hence contributes to social stability. As a total social phenomenon the barlaque in its exemplary form is the very microcosm of Timorese society95, a fitting icon of Timor-Leste indeed. In addition to being designated in the anthropological literature as “asymmetric alliance” the barlaque in this form is also referred to as “generalized exchange” or “matrilateral cross-cousin marriage”96 and its principal characteristics are as follows. A descent group (clan, lineage, or sub-lineage) takes wives from a number of specified wife-giving descent groups and gives
95 Cf. Duarte (1964:96): “O parentesco que se contrai, pelo instituto do feto-sá-umane, é de afinidade. Mas o sentimento e a obrigação de solidariedade, que envolve, para todos os que nele entram, superam tudo o que um ocidental possa imaginar” “The relationship of kinship contracted by the institution of the feto-sá-umane is that of affinity. But the sentiment and the obligation of solidarity that it involves for those who enter into it, surpasses everything that a westerner could imagine” (my translation). 96 Note that this designation is from the perspective of a male rather than from that of a female.



its own father’s sisters, sisters, and daughters (among other women) as wives to a number of other specified wife-taking descent groups. The direction cannot be reversed. Wife-givers cannot take women from their wife-takers. Nor can wife-takers give women to their wife-givers. The direct exchange of women between descent groups or – as we may regard them -- “alliance groups” is prohibited, a requirement that imparts asymmetry into the exchange. Another feature of the system is that these alliances are maintained from generation to generation.







Ego ’s group




B Ego


MBS WB wifetaking group wifegiving group






MBSS Descent group

Direction in which women are exchange

A nal link (marriage)

ego (shown here as male) Direction in wich women are exchanged



Whether the descent groups involved in these alliances are clans, lineages, or sub-lineages the respective statuses and symbolic attributes of wife-giver and wife-taker are quite different, even contrastive. The wife-givers are considered superior to their wife-takers and are designated the “masculine” group. The wife-takers are characterized as “feminine”. Consistent with this gender alignment the gifts given by the wife-givers to the wife-takers (which assume the “gender” associations of the latter) are classed as the “feminine” prestations and they include cloth, pigs, rice, women’s coral necklaces, and the defining and pre-eminent gift, i.e., the person of the bride herself. The counter-gift, that is, the bridewealth, is classed as the “masculine” prestation and consists of horses, buffaloes, goats, chickens, golden men’s pectoral plates, war swords, money, and gold. From this it will be apparent that the woman given in marriage is only one element – though by far the most important element – in a large ensemble of reciprocal gifts exchanged. Interestingly the term barlaque appears to derive from the Malay berlaki, “to take a husband”, and while it is of general use in Timor-Leste the different ethno-linguistic groups have their own vernacular terms by which to denote it97. In the Tetum language the term used is fetosa-umane or fetosawa-umamane; in Kemak maneheu-umamane; in Bunak malu-ai; in Mambai fetosa-umane; in Atoni feto-mone; in Makassai umaraha-tupumata; in Fataluku arahopata-tupurmokoru; in Galoli vassau-umane; in Kairui uasa-umane; in Naueti oa-sae – uma ana; and on Ataúro anaperani-anahata.

97 The reader is directed to the epigraph heading this essay.


Critics of the barlaque fail to take into account the fact that the exchange of gifts in the barlaque is not made only on the occasion of the wedding ceremony. Prestations continue to be exchanged between wife-givers and wife-takers on other occasions when members of the two alliance groups come together as when, for instance, they participate in a ritual event such as a birth or death. On such formal occasions the gifts must be of the same kind as those given at marriage, i.e., wife-givers give pigs and wife-takers give buffalos. The giving and consumption of food also follow a protocol in that the food eaten has to conform to the character of the food exchanged at marriage. Wife-givers give pigs but cannot eat pork. Wife-takers give buffalos but cannot eat its meat. The two parties are also bound together by mutual obligations that extend well beyond the exchange of gifts. Alliance groups are entitled to demand their partner’s help in many important activities, ritual, economic, and political. Wife-givers and wife-takers help their partners bury their dead and celebrate the entrance into the world of their partner’s children. As a child grows up and there are school fees to pay alliance partners may be called upon to assist in meeting the expense. Nor do descent groups forget that in the past alliance partners would help one another carry out headhunting raids. Before king Boaventura’s submission to the Portuguese in 1912 affinal alliances served as the basis for mutual support between kings when they waged war against other kingdoms. Schulte-Nordholt (1971, p.388) has said about the Atoni “… in the case of war the bride-receiving ruler could marshal the support of his bride-giver” and Father Jorge Duarte (1964, pp.96-97) writes that “Conceito e sentimento que reflectem a necessidade e o instinto da própria conservação e defesa, numa sociedade primitiva, alveolar, que se axadrezava em tribus demarcadas por frontiera naturais muito ingratas, por fronteiras políticas demasiadamente frágeis e separadas entre si por uma aranheira de línguas ou dialectos e subdialectos que necessàriamente concorriam mais para dificultar do que facilitar relaçoês de boa vizinhança. Uma sociedade, assim compartimentada, tinha que se sentir bastante exposta a guerrilhas, saques e depredações. De sorte que, quanto mais se consolidasse e ramificasse a família, mais garantida se tornava a sua defesa, não só dentro da própria tribu, clão our reino, mas ainda além-fronteiras”.98 Under the provisions of the barlaque a man contemplating marriage is encouraged to look for a wife in a descent group not only already having an alliance relationship with his own but also one that “traditionally” provides his own with their wives, for example, the descent group that provided his mother in the previous generation. Hence the designation “matrilateral cross cousin marriage”. Such a prospective wife would be his genealogical MBD or else a classificatory MBD while a woman would be expected to find a husband among her own descent group’s wife-takers, in other words, a man who would be her actual or classificatory FZS. A man, therefore, cannot marry his FZD (his patrilateral cross cousin) nor a woman marry her MBS. This is the prescription. In practice marriages may diverge from this ideal. Marriages between persons whose descent groups have no already existing affinal

98 “Imagination and sentiment which reflect the necessity and instinct of self-preservation and defence in a primitive society, divided up into a network of tribes demarcated by very vague natural boundaries, by political frontiers extremely fragile, and separated among themselves by a web of languages or dialects and sub-dialects that necessarily made it difficult to bring about good neighbourly relationships. In a society thus compartmentnalized, one had to feel quite exposed to raiding, sacks, and depredations so that the more consolidated and ramified the family the greater guaranteed became its defence, not only inside the tribe itself, clan or kingdom, but beyond the frontiers as well. (My translation).



ties are possible. They simply establish new alliances thereby extending their respective descent groups’ affinal network, often seen as a desirable goal. What would contravene the rule enjoining unilateral alliance would be for a man to marry a woman from a wife-taking group or for a woman to marriage a man from a wife-giving group. The most blatant violation of the rule would be for a pair of men to marry each other’s sisters, an infraction of the lisan thought to incur massive sanctions from the ancestral ghosts, such as the subsequent infertility of the couple. Given that ego’s descent group will have several wife-giving alliance partners and several wife-taking partners and that ego’s wife-givers will also have multiple wife-givers/wifetakers and ego’s wife-takers will have multiple wife-takers/wife-givers of their own many descent groups will be connected – even if only indirectly -- to ego’s descent group. It is possible that virtually every clan or lineage in Timor-Leste that engages in the exemplary form of the barlaque may be, however remotely, linked by alliance ties. Hence the designation “generalized exchange”. Complex though the empirical reality may be, it can be reduced to the form of a simple, triadic, model as F. A. E. van Wouden (1935) and Claude Lévi-Strauss (1949) have demonstrated. In order to satisfy ego’s wife-givers’ need for wives for themselves and ego’s wife-takers’ need for husbands for themselves ego’s wife-givers become the wife-takers of ego’s wife-takers thereby “closing the loop” and creating a structure though which wives and brideweath circulate in opposite directions. Figures One and Two display, from alternative perspectives, the triadic structure that results from making these accommodations99. Although a minimum of three descent groups is required for the asymmetry to be possible, in practice any number of descent groups can enter into a cycle and assume the role of alliance partners. These cyclical alliances may endure for generations but it might seem that the more alliance groups in a cycle the more vulnerable it is to breaking down since there are more alliance groups that may for contingent reasons, for example, demographic changes in relative gender make-up, be unable to continue supplying their partners with wives or husbands. No comparative study has apparently yet been made to determine the average number of alliance partners cycles can contain but Brigitte Renard-Clamagirand (1980, p.147) has identified instances among the Kemak (or Ema) in Marobo of a four-group cycle. She also describes how “a system of marriage alliances according to a four-partner cycle” can transform itself into a three-partner cycle (Renard-Clamagirand 1982, pp.111-115). Among many ethnic groups in Timor-Leste, as we find elsewhere with unilateral cross cousin marriage, the asymmetry of the alliance is indicated in the terms of relationship

99 Triangles represent male positions; circles represent female positions; the solid triangle represents the position of (male) ego from whose perspective the kinship and affinal positions are defined; vertical lines represent the (patri-) lines; horizontal lines represent the link between siblings; and extended equations represent links between affines. The non-composite kin and affine positions in the diagram are represented by the following letters: F = father; M = mother; B = brother; Z = sister; S = son; D = daughter; H = husband; W = wife. The composite kin and affine positions are represented by the combination of letters, e.g., MB = mother’s brother; MBD = mother’s brother’s daughter; FZD = father’s sister’s daughter. In the triadic model shown in Figure 2 the lines of descent are depicted as those of a patrilineal system. Were the model displayed that of a matrilineal system the descent lines would of course run through the female positions rather than the male positions; but the triadic structure of the model would be otherwise identical with that shown here.



employed to denote and refer to kin and affines. The marriage prescription privileging the matrilateral cross cousin (MBD), for the man, and the patrilateral cross cousin (FZS), for the woman, and that prohibiting the opposite unions may therefore find expression in a terminological differentiation made between them in that both categories of unilateral cross cousin will be called by distinct terms. A Naueti man calls his MBD bunara but he calls his FZD buana: a Naueti woman calls her MBS kria but she calls her FZS kriana (Hicks, 2007). As typically occurs in asymmetric terminologies such distinctions are made elsewhere in the relationship terminology. The same applies to correspondences in the terminology. For example, since the system anticipates, as it were, a man marrying his MBD we may find that the term for MB is also the term for WF. Thus among the Naueti both are known as obu. The asymmetric character of the barlaque therefore may be expected to find expression verbally in a relationship terminology that is, in homologous fashion, asymmetric. I have so far been discussing the barlaque in its exemplary mode but as I mentioned above the term is also applied to certain other modes of affinity which do not involve asymmetric arrangements between descent groups. They are probably found in the majority of ethnic groups and display much the same institutional features as the Tetum people living in Caraubalo suku in the sub-district of Viqueque among whom I have carried out fieldwork100. Here we find perhaps the only ethnic Timorese group in all of Timor-Leste that does not practice asymmetric alliance. The Makassai, Naueti, and Midiki with whom they share Viqueque sub-district have their different versions of the fetosa-umane but for reasons that remain unclear the Tetum in Viqueque sub-district do not. A further singularity about the Tetum of this sub-district is that they have patrilineal descent and a post-marital residence for a bridegroom that is patrilocal whereas elsewhere on the island the Tetum have matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence. In Caraubalo the Tetum people have as their favoured form of the barlaque what they refer to as the hafoli. This differs from the fetosa-umane in the following particulars. (a) While brideweath is given from wife-takers to wife-givers the set of gifts is not reciprocated in the hafoli except, of course, in the person of the bride herself. The bridewealth is a unilateral gift. (b) Although certain descent groups may have a history of marrying certain other descent groups the hafoli lacks the entailment that a marriage contracted between two descent groups be part of an on-going alliance. Nor does it necessarily establish a precedent. (c) The hafoli does not prohibit symmetric marriages between its alliance groups: the direct reciprocal exchange of women between lineages is permitted. (d) The terminology of relationship that accompanies the hafoli lacks the triadic structure typically shown by the relationship terminology of the fetosa-umane because the hafoli form of marriage creates a multitude of individual marriages rather than constituting a system that transcends all marriages (Hicks, 1978b). (e) Alliance cycles do not occur in the hafoli. (f ) The reciprocal rights and obligations binding wife-givers and wifetakers in a hafoli marriage are not so extensive. (f ) The symbolism one finds in asymmetric alliance is less elaborate.

100 I wish to thank the following organizations for their help in funding my research at various times in Timor-Leste since my initial trip in 1966-1967: the London Committee of the London-Cornell Project for East and South East Asian Studies which was supported jointly by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Nuffield Foundation; the American Philosophical Society; and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.



The third form of marriage is the habani101 which strictly speaking is marginal to what is denoted by the term “barlaque” since in some sukus no bridewealth is given so the question of “purchasing a wife” hardly arises. In this form of marriage, instead of his descent group giving bridewealth, the groom, as it were, “gives himself”. He departs his natal home to take up residence with his wife’s father for whose benefit he works and under whose suzerainty he lives. This form of marriage is regarded as an inferior alternative to the hafoli. It lacks the prestige associated with giving or receiving a substantial bridewealth and entails the subjection of the son-in-law. Bridewealth might not be given for one or more of several reasons. In Caraubalo suku a man is not expected to provide his own bridewealth, which must be collected together by the senior men most closely related to him in his father’s descent group. Should they be unwilling to do so and the father either lacks the necessary resources or is himself disinclined to help his son the latter has two courses of action open to him. He can abandon his plans for marrying or -- should he be determined to marry and the woman’s father agree -- marriage in the absence of bridewealth. This recourse results in his having to reside matrilocally, i.e., with his father-in-law and mother-in-law, and his children belong to his wife’s descent group. On the other hand, the woman’s father may frustrate the prospective husband’s plans by denying him his daughter’s hand. Among the reasons a man’s kin might have had for refusing bridewealth might have been that they disapproved of him, perhaps because he had failed to demonstrate qualities desirable in a kinsman – among them cooperation, reliability, and industry. If the woman’s father sees his prospective son-in-law in the same light the latter will probably remain just that -- a prospective son-in-law. Under the conventions of the habani a marriage establishes only the very weakest of institutional connections between the wife’s group and that of the husband’s since it is more a personal arrangement than an alliance between sets of affines. Far from devaluating women, as westernized Timorese and foreign critics allege, the barlaque endows the female sex with immense status. If brideweath represents – as it most definitely does – a major expenditure of resources from the wife-taking group to the wifegiving group does not this suggest an extraordinarily elevated value that traditionallyminded people – women as well as men, by the way -- invest in the female sex? I recall discussing marriage with a Caraubalo man who had just heard me say that I had not given bridewealth for my wife and being told that while malais had their own ways, unlike them Timorese did not simply come together like animals. They gave the barlaque. The claim that in the barlaque brides are purchased might, on the face of it, appear to find some confirmation in the semantics of the term hafoli, which can be literally glossed as “to make the price”. But this would be to mischaracterize the institution because the bride is only one component in an exchange of gifts that constitute a set given by both wife-givers and wife-takers and is part of a socially comprehensive system of mutual assistance, cooperation, rights, and duties that bind descent groups together. Adding weight to the argument that giving the folin should not be construed as a commercial transaction are declarations issued by those Timorese who actually make the system work. They specifically reject the notion that wives are purchased. B. A. Vroklage (1952, p.137), commenting on this issue has this to say about the Tetum: “ ... in the course of my researches in Belu (Central Timor) it became very clear to me that, though the people use expressions like price and purchase amount in connection with a marriage, they only mean the derivative or wider sense of price or buying in
101 Ha(lo) (to make) + bani(n) (father-in-law).



this case and they definitely do not want these expressions to be understood literally. Everywhere the idea of buying the bride was indignantly repudiated and I was told: ‘The bride is not a buffalo’, or: ‘She not an animal’, or: ‘She is not a slave’. A woman would feel deeply insulted if one should tell her she was bought. In Lidak and Lassiolat they added that she would run away at once and that her husband would have to pay a heavy fine to her family to prevail upon her to return” (Vroklage, 1952, p.137)102. Another argument against the allegation that the woman is purchased is that if bridewealth simply amounts to purchasing a woman why then should its giving be incorporated in a ritual complex so awash in symbolism? Significant stages in the marriage ceremony are typically endowed with metaphors of identification, as are the component gifts of the total prestation as well as the bride and bridegroom themselves. After describing one form of marriage ceremony performed by the Tetum people of Samoro Father Jorge Duarte (1964), p. 108) writes, “A cerimónia que se acaba de descriver é pletórica em simbolismo: nas figuras que intervêm, na ‘matéria’ que se emprega, nos utensílios que se usam, no texto das fórmulas103.” How many of those critics who equate the barlaque with a money payment that purchases a wife have ever read his account – explicated in scholarly detail -- of what marriage, in its ideology and totality, means to the people of the sukus? Or for that matter, Vroklage (1952; 1952-1953) who offers a similar portrait of the rich imagery in Tetum marriages? Or Ernest Brandewie and Simon Asten (1976, pp.25-26) whose article on Tetum marriage and kinship actually bears the sub-title “a study of symbols”? We are now in a position to emend the standard definition of the barlaque as indicated by the quotations I presented at the beginning of this essay. Luís Costa, as we have seen, refers to an exchange of “goods” of “equivalent value”. What we have seen of the barlaque makes the use of the term “goods” misleading and to describe the sets of gifts given as being equivalent neglects the immense value and overwhelmingly superior value invested in the person of the bride herself. Claude Lévi-Strauss insists upon the incomparable value wife-givers and wife-takers invest in women and emphasizes the fact that the value of gifts given by the wife-takers to their wife-givers is considerably less than the value of the bride herself to her husband’s descent group. All this having been said, let us now look to the Timorese for the last word. Knowing – as the critics of the barlaque apparently do not – that their descent groups require the constant and never-ending infusion of new members in every generation, Timorese symbolize their appreciation of the fact that only women have the natural capacity to provide these. In the barlaque this capacity to create life is transferred from the wife-givers to their wife-takers in the form of a gift, a recognition the Tetum make explicit when they describe women as “the source of life” (Vroklage, 1952, p.137) and the Kemak (Clamagirand, 1980, p.145) figuratively acknowledge in their metaphor for the alliance between wife-giver and wife-taker. They call it “the flow of life”.

102 Vroklage (1952, p.137) is of the opinion that the “parts of the bride price plainly indicate what is the guiding principle of the bride price. It is a compensation for the loss of the bride, who becomes incorporated into another family group. Furthermore it is a compensation for the pain, the care, the trouble and the expense incurred for her, as well as for the sorrow of the parting, and finally is a consolation for the ancestors expressed in a valuable present.” 103 “The ceremony I have just described abounds in symbolism: in the figures involved, in the ‘materials’ employed, in the utensils that are used, in the words of the formulas”. (My translation).




Among the many scenarios that emerged from European colonial expansion, it is worth mentioning the creation and/or growth of urban centers in imperial overseas territories where, in some cases, they did not exist before. As a result of the agreements between colonial powers at the Berlin Conference in late nineteenth century, pressures for the actual occupation of their colonies forced them to adopt a new dynamic of government projects. In the case of Portugal, this fact, added to that country’s relative political stabilization, gave rise to several administrative reforms. Consequently, its colonial enterprise gained a new breath105. On the socio-political frontier known today as East Timor, these events led to a number of pacification wars under the leadership of Governor Celestino da Silva. Through these wars both the dominion and the recognition of the territory under Portuguese jurisdiction were negotiated at one and the same time, as the colonial administrative and military structures on the island’s eastern portion expanded. As time went by, through these processes, and as a strategy of the Metropolitan government (Foucault, 2008), two different places were produced, namely, hills (foho in Tétum) and towns.106 I thus assume that colonial expansion was responsible for a variety of topogenic processes. Following Edward Said (1995), it generated “overlapping territories and intertwined histories.” By inserting new spatial and moral references, a novel historical consciousness was forged among the wide and diversified range of actors we synthetically have called “the colonized” and the “colonizers.” As the colonial enterprise became established overseas, this historical consciousness played an important role in defining new geographical frontiers, which often became the basis for structuring governance and for imagining post-colonial States.107
104 An earlier version of this text was presented at the panel “Relations of alterity and the production of inequalities: A South-South perspective” during the 27th Meeting of the Brazilian Anthropological Association, August 2010. I am grateful to Daniel Simião, Wilson Trajano Filho, Antônio Motta and Lívio Sansone for their comments. I am also grateful to Alcida Ramos, who translated this article into English. 105 For a discussion of the reconfiguration of the Portuguese colonial enterprise in late nineteenth century and its relation to wider metropolitan political disputes, see Alexandre 2000. 106 According to Foucault, government is a particular form of exercising power, typically by the State, imposed upon populations (rather than territories). The State is legitimized and reproduced by means of specialized technologies and know how. In Foucault’s vision, government emerges out of means of control over complex social formations, such as towns and empires, thus qualifying as manager and organizer of diversity. According to him, the link between the State and capitalist production (a feature of the colonial enterprise) was fundamental to lift up the aspect of population management to a principle of government. Hence, it was necessary to know the population which, in turn, originated new fields of knowledge. 107 In this context, it is interesting to note that the administrative division of East Timor territory into districts and subdistricts roughly corresponds to the adminstrative division extant in the last years of the island’s Portuguese



This text examines some contemporary representations that are projected onto one of the places that emerged as a product of Portuguese colonial expansion on what we now call East Timor, namely, the hills. The hills are defined in opposition to towns, which in East Timor are reduced to Dili and Baucau. I discuss their contents in the light of the predicaments Dili local elites face regarding marriage negotiations, as to whether, how, and why they request bridewealth, known locally as barlake or hafolin. I point out that the hills are characterized, among others things, by the notion that they are the loci of “usos e costumes” (uses and customs) as opposed to the towns, regarded, in turn, as the space of multiple modernities. I suggest that the opposition between hill (foho) and town is constitutive of the East Timor national and colonial imagination.108 At its root there seem to be at least two distinct factors. One are the ways in which the local elites internalize the Portuguese legacy, among which, the invention of East Timor “usos e costumes;” the other are the ways in which those elites appropriated and subverted values, discourses, and practices related to ideas about “modernity” and “development,” either in past exile experience or due to their present-day occupational niche. In this article, I use the category place as a morally meaningful space to which certain actors and agencies are associated. As such, it is the product of lengthy social processes. I adopt Durkheim’s (2000) and Fox’s (1997) approach that considers places to be parts of a cognitive system that guides people and allows them to identify with each other. I assume the discursive and administrative technologies that were forged during Portuguese colonization have had a fundamental role in the invention of town and hills as specific places in the moral landscape of East Timor. I divide the article into four sections. I first present some dimensions of the town of Dili, where my interlocutors voiced their interpretations of the hills. We must thus bear in mind that the discussion below refers to situated perspectives about the production of places. As I contextualize Dili, I also give some historical information about the process of inventing East Timor. I then explore certain predicaments my interlocutors face when negotiating bridewealth in town, which, in turn, will convey their representations of the hills. Images associated with towns are marginal to my analysis, but I take for granted that my interlocutors, for historical reasons spelled out below, implicitly refer to them. In the final considerations, I connect the discourses about the hills to the reinvention of “usos e costumes” in the nation-building process in East Timor and elsewhere.

The meaning of the practices and discourses associated with barlake described below is heavily influenced by the context in which they were stated. For this reason it must be decolonization. According to Faculdade de Arquitetura da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa & GERTIL (2002, p. 72), “the present 13 districts of East Timor maintain the contours of the 13 councils that existed in the last years of Portuguese regime.” 108 In a future publication, I intend to confront this opposition to another, between coast and hinterland of the Brazilian national imagination.



scribed, albeit briefly. I refer to Dili, the country’s capital town that was deeply marked by a turbulent history of destruction and reconstruction, which resulted from the long-lasting disputes involving East Timor and based on which the country was constituted. Dili is located in north Timor, the former home of the Mambai people when the Portuguese arrived in 1769 to build a new administrative center after Lifau (in Oecussi) was destroyed. Dili was founded with the intention of centralizing the administration of the fragile colonial State on Timor Island, and later, of Portuguese Timor (after the Island’s western portion was ceded to Holland). Dili came into existence as a colonial frontier, as a project of colonial town. As such, through its history, it was allegedly occupied, in its central parts, by a majority of mestizos, the assimilated, the Portuguese, and other foreigners. It became a place associated with civilization – whether in the Portuguese or Indonesian way – and Western modernity as opposed to the hills (foho). In the making of the colonial, and later, national East Timor imagination, the hills have been conceived as a place to foster indigenous “usos e costumes” (uses and customs).109 They are the site of the lands, houses, sacred objects, customary law, and the ancestors to whom most East Timor people are related and where a series of required rituals are performed to maintain the normal flow of life. As in many other territories that were colonized belatedly, we see in East Timor an urban/rural, town/hinterland opposition, as a consequence of what Mamdani (1998) calls a bifurcate State.110 The bifurcate State was constructed throughout European colonial administrations at different latitudes in Africa and Asia, and continued in post-colonial times. It made urban space the locus of direct rule, positive law, religion, language, the whites, and the individual (as the institutions’ normative subject), as opposed to rural, wilderness, or, as in the East Timor case, the hills; they would be the spaces of indirect rule, tradition, customary law, paganism, dialects,111 etc. However, historical facts of Timor decolonization turned Dili into a much more complex scenario than Mamdani proposed, although the town/hill opposition continues to be important for part of its dwellers to make sense of their present-day urban experience. It is true that, in the twentieth century, Dili became a colonial town, with its central zones occupied by mestizos, “the assimilated,” and whites where, ideally, no one practiced “usos e
109 Originally, the expression “usos e costumes” was a colonial government category. In part, it conveys the opposition to civilization. In the imperial context, “uses and customs” refers to social representations and practices attributed to indigenous populations. Since long ago, marriage prestations have been regarded as a fundamental part of the “uses and customs” pertaining to the natives of Timor, and incorporated into the nineteenth and twentiethcentury colonial knowledge. Although these native “uses and customs” of Timor were never codified (as they were in Goa, Macau, and Mozambique, for instance), they were acknowledged and reconstructed in various documents of the colonial administration. 110 Mamdani (1998) classifies colonial States as bifurcate due to the fact that they have distinct and exclusive bureaucratic apparatuses, in the one hand, for managing native populations (also called indigenous) in the countryside, and , on the other, for managing white and expatriate populations. 111 Seixas (2006b) discusses the categories of unitary and regional imagination according to which East Timor populations have been classified in different historical records, all the way from myths to colonial documents of the Portuguese administration. He identifies various forms to express the opposition between foho and town. It is suggested that, when Timor was under the Belo hegemony, there was an opposition between hill people and plains people, then, in the centuries of Portuguese rule, reconfigured as hill people (ema foho) and Dili people.



costumes”, such as barlake. Nevertheless, the 1975 Indonesian occupation and the 2002 restoration of independence brought about another configuration for that space and the social practices performed in it. Using the colonial classification system, we might say that Dili, as of 1975, was the object of an indigenization process. The civil war between the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) and the Revolutionary Front for Independent East Timor (FRETILIN), the abandonment of Dili by the Portuguese State, and the Indonesian military occupation in 1975 caused most of the population of mestizos, whites, and “the assimilated” to flee the town to the hills, to Atambua (Indonesia), and to Australia. Hence, from 1975 onward, a partially destroyed Dili was occupied anew. As the seat of the Indonesian administration, it was taken up by Indonesians of diverse origins, as well as by East Timorese coming down from the hills. Thus, under Indonesian rule, Dili became an even more plural, complex, and ambiguous space, housing power and social modernization projects of various sorts, while turning more indigenized than ever. The 1999 Referendum once more altered the urban scenario. Restitution of the country’s right to independence led to an abrupt abandonment of Dili by the Indonesian public servants who very likely represented more than half of its population. At the same time, there was a new wave of East Timorese migration from the hills to the capital, as well as the return from Australia, Portugal, and Mozambique of East Timorese who were in exile since the Indonesian occupation, many of whom regarded as mestizos and assimilated people under Portuguese rule. At present, Dili has about 200,000 people of different class, ethnic, and national origins (counting United Nations personnel) who settled during the various migration flows. It is a plural and diversified space (Simião, 2006), where multiple modernization projects, appropriations and reinventions of “usos e costumes” circulate. In this place strongly marked by the memory of political events that deeply affected the country in the twentieth century, social actors constantly negotiate their “traditions” (lisan), their “usos e costumes” of which barlake/hafolin is a fundamental part.

On my last research trip to Dili, I began to explore some issues related to marriage negotiations. Among other things, I wanted to know how marriages were arranged, so as to better understand the contemporary place of reciprocity ethics in that part of what Errington (1990), following the legacy of Van Wouden (1968), Lévi-Strauss (1982), and Fox (1990), dubbed as the exchange archipelago. On the first days of my research, I was startled with the following remarks: But do you want to know about the Dili type of marriage or about the other types of marriage? (…) Many people try to imitate the Dili type of marriage, but few succeed. (…) Even hill people now want to marry in Dili style (…) In the Dili type of marriage there is no barlake (Mr. João).



These comments by my wise interlocutor pointed at the need to consider the diversity of ways to look upon and organize weddings in East Timor as a whole, particularly the differences in negotiating and carrying them out both in town and on the hills. It goes without saying that in a town with approximately 200,000 people and a complex history, marriage rituals are structured in diverse ways, depending on the dynamics of class, ethnic origin, religious persuasion, family trajectories, educational experience, etc.112 Actually, many couples live together before marriage, whether they so wish, or because of family pressure in view of an unexpected pregnancy.113 Given such a diversity of contexts, I must clarify that the discussion that follows revolves around controversies about the organization of official marriages, meaning, for most people in the Dili milieu, weddings carried out in the Catholic Church, which is also charged with civil registry. In marriage negotiations the circulation of goods is fundamental, whether they happen in Dili or on the hills. In fact, these negotiations initiate a sequence of exchanges of goods and services that will connect the concerned houses/families on a long term basis.114 There is no necessary opposition between persons and things. In fact, such negotiations are inconceivable without the circulation of goods, even when barlake is not carried out/requested. Between the houses, other goods circulate besides the woman: buffalo, belak (gold or silver discs), surik (swords), morteen (necklaces), bua malus (areca, betel, and chalk), goats, hogs, tais (locally woven cloth), rice, drinks, cigarettes, old coins, and money. The direction and quantity of these goods are predetermined, depending on the ethnolinguistic group, and the position of the ritual houses in their membership universe. The house, which is the basic exogamous unit, is objectified as a descent group that constitutes a moral-religious community dedicated to the cult of the ancestors. The barlake/hafolin system comprises a sequence of exchanges offered by the groom’s house/family to the bride’s house/family as an alliance prestation (Dumont, 1957). Its contents vary and are negotiated between both houses/families according to the custom of

112 In order to maintain my focus in this discussion, I do not describe the various ceremonies that comprise marriage negotiations. The reader may consult the text “Riqueza ou Preço da Noiva?: Regimes morais em disputa nas negociações matrimoniais timorenses” presented at the 2009 Anthropology of Mercosul Meeting, available at GT29%20-%20Ponencia%20%5BSilva%5D.pdf. 113 Some Church authorities I met during my research named women who live with their husbands but are not married under the Catholic Church as barlakeadas. This does not mean there was indeed a barlake prestation/transference/payment for these women. It is rather a derogatory term used to disqualify women who live beyond the pale of Christian/Catholic rules. They are thus classified for being regarded as standing closer to a village way of life. In some Dili contexts of sociability this label is considered offensive in so far as the villages are taken to be places of backwardness and obscurantism. 114 For a discussion of the meaning and implications of marriage exchange among the various Eastern Indonesia peoples, see Barnes, 1980. For a revision of the role of bridewealth among the various East Timor indigenous peoples, see David Hicks in this volume. When speaking of marriage negotiations, my interlocutors often used the term family to refer, in many cases, to what in anthropological theory has been called house (Lévi-Strauss, 1983; Carsten and Hugh-Jones, 1995). I keep the term house/family in order to preserve the semantic polyphony of my material. It also expresses Dili’s multireferential and transitional universe, as well as the dialogic character of the anthropological enterprise.



their ancestors, the prestations given for the bride’s mother, the position of each family in the contemporary social structure, and, eventually, the bride’s own condition: whether she is a virgin, whether she has higher education, whether she has a job, etc.115 The time needed to conclude the hafolin transference to the bride’s house/family varies a great deal; it can be immediate or last until the couple’s death. In the marriage context, umane are all the relatives connected to the house that gives away women. In contrast, fetosaan are all the members of the house that receives women. Barlake prestations, among other things, can sever the spiritual bond of the woman with her ritual house of origin, after which her allegiance is exclusively with her husband’s ritual house. This possibility, however, is the object of numerous negotiations. It depends on the implications of the marriage for the original ethnolinguistic groups of both bride and groom, and on the social situation of the respective ritual houses with regard to their reproduction expectations.

Between November 2008 and March 2009, I was present at the negotiations for ten marriages among urban elites of East Timor. That experience made me confront the variety of procedures and the lack of consensus about the meaning and importance of barlake. In fact, its meaning is under dispute as certain actors negotiate their social position by assigning themselves to different places (Dili or foho; town or the hills). For instance, if someone says that barlake is merely about “buying” a wife, and hence, a barbaric custom, he is presenting himself as a person from Dili (ema Dili), that is, a modern/polite/civilized individual. On the other hand, one may say that barlake is a way of recognizing the “value” and the “origins” of the bride. By saying that, a person is presenting himself as an authentic Timorese, someone who knows and honors his own traditions and understands the “real” meaning of barlake; someone strongly connected to the hills. It is not unusual for different members of a single house/family to claim distinct positions vis-à-vis hafolin. The bride and groom may not wish to request it, but their parents, uncles and aunts are in favor of it, or, reversely, the couple’s parents may not request barlake, but end up giving in to their siblings’ pressure. It can be, therefore, an awkward disagreement, which may set off not only alliances, but also disputes, ruptures, and resentment.

In this section I analyze some of the arguments used by those who affirm not to practice hafolin. It is a striking position on the part of people who critically evaluate barlake as an operation for selling women. Denial of barlake is justified as a strategy to preserve access
115 This is a rather simplest description of the composition and direction of bridewealth between houses/families of patrilineal and virilocal “custom.” It does not apply to groups of matrilineal and uxorilocal “custom.”



to married daughters and assure the latter’s individual right to freely come and go to their families of origin. It is suggested that lack of barlake guarantees the union of the nuclear family and of the houses/families connected by marriage. This argument presupposes that the total payment of barlake severs the relationships between relatives (especially between parents and daughters), besides being the object of innumerable conflicts between the houses/families involved. It is also said that relinquishing barlake avoids domestic violence, in so far as it is thought to also be motivated by the pressures put upon the husband to settle his obligations with his wife’s family. I often came across a criticism of barlake according to which the affect and respect between bride and groom were much more important than barlake. In such statements barlake is depicted as being in opposition to the individualistic ideology of romantic love. Another common criticism of barlake is based on the assumption that humans and things are incommensurable: “The value of peoples is not equal to the value of things,” stated a bridegroom whose marriage negotiation I happened to follow. It was then suggested that the barlake custom, regarded as quite common on the hills and among the ancestors of Dili people, was due to an excessive interest in material things. With no access to education, those people did not perceive that buffalo and ritual objects, such as belak and surik, were not comparable to the value of a human being. This and other discourses are common among Catholic Church authorities in East Timor. To the criticism of barlake is added a criticism of what is taken to be an irrational use of goods and resources, once again, attributed to hill people or to the uneducated in Dili. It is suggested that these people go through considerable sacrifices for long periods of time in order to accumulate goods and money for marriage rituals and feasts, thus exposing themselves to unacceptable deprivations: they fail to send their children to school, don’t feed them properly, live in precarious and unhygienic houses, dress badly, etc. I should mention that there is a growing kind of discourse among the local elite that attributes what they call poverty of the country’s population to the big investments made in rituals, which, in their view, preclude the minimum wealth accumulation that is necessary for “development.” It is also interesting to notice that my interlocutors unanimously found very positive the fact that, in Dili, marriages are always the object of various orders of negotiation between the families. On the hills, to the contrary, it would be necessary to offer precisely what people requested. It was suggested that the most expensive barlake in Timor was among the Fataluku of Lospalos (the country’s easternmost district) who demanded approximately 77 buffalo for a marriage, depending on the status of the ritual house/family involved. It is not by chance that the Lospalos natives are accused of being very fearless and violent, in sharp contrast to Dili people. We thus see that the acting out and the modus operandi of marriage negotiations are submitted to elaborate symbolic reckonings, which, in turn, become the basis for constructing collective representations about the diverse peoples and spaces that make up the country. Nevertheless, these criticisms aimed at the barlake/hafolin custom co-exist side by side with the acceptance of other practices that are structured around the circulation of goods and services that are central to Dili sociability. Although some houses/families deny they practice barlake, they demand of the groom’s house the payment of what they call aitukan-



be’e manas (literally firewood and hot water)116 in the form of a specific sum in dollars (between 500 and 3,000) as compensation for the effort invested by the parents to raise their daughter. When asked about the differences between barlake and aitukan-be’e manas, my interlocutors gave various interpretations. Some stated that aitukan-be’e manas were qualified as non barlake because they were given exclusively to the bride’s biological parents, unlike barlake that should also be distributed among her uncles and aunts, siblings, and cousins. However, in two gift exchange ceremonies – a ceremony in which part of the requested goods for the marriage are ritually handed over to the bride’s family – I witnessed sums of money classified as aitukan-be’e manas to be given to the men of the bride’s house, such as uncles and cousins. I bring out these examples to show that we are dealing with a complex and ambiguous universe where multiple moral regimes operate simultaneously, as they are strategically appropriated by the actors. I therefore suggest that we take barlake and aitukan-be’e manas as distinct modes of alliance prestations – as Renard-Clamagirand (1982) proposes for differentiating big price from small price – because they sort out specific regimes of rights over persons and things involved in marriage exchanges. It is not possible to deduct the nature of marriage prestations from the goods that circulate. Their meaning and implications are constructed along the negotiation process between the houses/families. When aitukan-be’e manas stays solely with the bride’s biological parents, it can be interpreted as a change of bride price/wealth in the urban context in the sense of reaffirming the value of the nuclear family as the main unit of social reproduction. I would still like to point out that, in the limited context of my research, those who show variations in the discourses presented above were mainly East Timor people involved in the women’s movement, descendants of assimilated and mestizo people whose close relatives, such as parents and uncles, have lived in Dili for at least two decades. Thus, negating barlake becomes a sign of social distinction among certain elite groups who emulate projects of Western modernity by opposing them to what they consider to be habits pertaining to the hills and hill people (ema foho). These represent this place and its people either as irrational and intolerant, or materialistic and much too collectivistic. Moreover, the hills are commonly seen as a place of deprivation and material precariousness.

“We have to do it. Otherwise, our children won’t know us”

116 The term aitukan-be’e manas is a metaphor expressing the effort invested by the bride’s family in her upbringing; once again, the main reference is the set of hill practices. At childbirth, pregnant women are confined indoors and a fire is lit besides them to heat water used in the birth. Afterwards, the women remain secluded at home for some weeks, always bathing in hot water. It is believed that hot water purifies the woman’s body, ridding it of the secretions and impurity of pregnancy.



Mr. Francisco, spokesperson for the house/family of his sister’s daughter117 In my research I observed a positive attitude toward barlake among the following social actors: 1) men; 2) the elderly; 3) people who migrated to Dili in less than one decade and apparently closer to traditional rituals; and 4) people who enjoy a good position in Dili due to the high standing of their houses/families in the local hierarchies. I am referring mainly to the descendants of noble houses, some of which are said to have been important partners of the Portuguese colonial State. For this reason, their members had privileged access to education. Among the arguments used to justify the use of barlake is that it creates a bond between families and provides mutual aid in adverse situations. This is so because, among other things, the barlake transference of a specific set of goods is not always done at once. In fact, most often, it seems to be the opposite. The barlake payment comes in installments for years after the wedding, and thus commits the houses/families involved to engage in mutual aid. For some people, it was a device for establishing social rules on the hills, at a time when there was no State to say who had rights and duties over what. For one of my interlocutors, people who were against barlake – among whom were those who saw it as a mere transaction of buying and selling women and as a cause of breach between families – had ideas that came from lack of knowledge of its deep meaning. He further stated that hafolin was a kind of deference on the part of the fetosaan (wife receivers) toward the umane (wife givers) for making the woman available and hence, contributing to the physical reproduction of the former’s house. A member of an elite house/family from the Ainaro district, he went on to say that part of the barlake goods received by his family at the ceremony I witnessed, especially money (two thousand dollars), would be distributed among all the men of his house/family. The elder would get more than the younger, but that would all receive their share for having contributed, one way or another, to the upbringing of the bride, now to be part of their own fetosaan kindred. At that moment, my interlocutor tried to impress me as a great connoisseur of the “usos e costumes,” that is, the moral universe that legitimated even his high social status, as opposed to those who mouthed a different opinion about hafolin because, as he said, they, in fact, did not know it. A main concern in the ceremonies of marriage negotiation is with the use of the appropriate words, oratory skills, application of adequate ritual forms and formulae, and compliance to the bargaining limits vis-à-vis the umane’s requests. In one of the cases I observed, the umane insisted on presenting what they expected to be barlake, even though they had previously agreed not to receive that much. According to the umane’s lia nain (spokesper-

117 As mediators in marriage negotiations, spokespersons (lia nain in Tétum) act as representatives of the interacting houses/families. The spokesperson is in general a male member of the bride’s/groom’s ritual house, knowledgeable in his traditions (lisan) and skilled in negotiations of this kind. Spokespersons are also respected for their appropriate oratory in contexts of negotiation, and their familiarity with what is known as diplomatic language; they know how to say the right word at the right moment. Given that words are perlocutionary technologies that are crucial in those contexts, these are very important skills. On occasion, it is possible to appoint spokespersons who do not belong to either house/family, that are hired by the parties involved due to their renowned competence in that kind of negotiation.



son), that was required so that the families could learn about their respective traditions (lisan). Otherwise, their gerasaum (offspring) would no longer recognize them. I also witnessed a gift exchange ceremony that generated a controversy between the bride’s and the groom’s families regarding the money the fetosaan wished to donate to the umane. Apparently, they had decided no barlake would be given, as the bride’s relatives were people long assimilated. Nevertheless, at the moment of the ritual speeches between the respective spokespersons and the other members of both families, the groom’s relatives asked the others to accept at least a little money. They argued that this was their custom, their lisan. The groom’s family insisted on donating about two thousand dollars to the bride’s family. On another occasion, a priest who had acted as spokesperson for his cousin’s house/family said he placed a symbolic request for barlake, even though he knew it would not be paid. He asserted he did so to honor his cousin and her lisan, and to show that she belonged to a family, she had an origin.118 Furthermore, some of my interlocutors stated that a woman who enters her husband’s house/family with a small offering or no offering at all – be it through barlake or aitukan-be’e manas – starts out in a very subaltern position, as a valueless woman. In this sense, barlake would be a way to dignify her. At this point, we should keep in mind that ancestry and origin are fundamental values among many peoples in East Indonesia. They organize relations of precedence between individuals and social groups. Fox says: Ideas of origin are themselves a matter of concern in most Austronesian societies and hence a suitable subject for investigation. However, such indigenous ideas of origin involve a complex array of notions. Conceptions of ancestry are invariably important but rarely is ancestry alone a sufficient and exclusive criterion for defining origins. Recourse to notions of place is also critical in identifying persons and groups, and thus in tracing origins. Similarly, alliance, defined in the broad sense of relations of persons and groups to one another, is also an important element in defining origins. Together all of these notions imply an attitude to the past: that it is knowable and that such knowledge is of value (…) (Fox, 1996, p. 5). Therefore, to state and evoke “usos e costumes” related to barlake, even in weddings for which the material transmission of gifts was relinquished (although there might have been aitukan-be’e manas), serves the purpose of recognizing the bride’s value in terms of her origin, her ancestry. It thus makes sense to say that for a significant part of the population that migrated to Dili in the last three decades, being connected to the hills, to their sacred houses and lineages, is a sign of prestige.119 From this perspective, the hills are positively evaluated. They are the place of the ancestors and as such they are the custodians of forces and agencies that must be recognized and ritually managed in order to maintain a proper flow of life wherever it is. One should remember Fox’s idea about the potential reversibil118 Cunha (2009) found similar situations in her research on Dili contemporary marriages. 119 In his research on the legislation related to domestic violence in the Covalima district in East Timor, Daniel Simião noticed that the local population qualified as poor the person who was devoid of social ties (personal communication). This perception concurs with my analysis above, suggesting that a woman’s value depends on whether she can be placed in a series of relationships, be they by descent or alliance.



ity between genealogy and topogeny (1997, p. 12). To enunciate places in ritual contexts has, according to him, the following functions: 1) to define origins and lines of precedence among related social groups; and 2) to provide a chronological succession of events so as to situate social actors in space and time. The data presented above also suggest that marriage negotiations in Dili potentially operate as forms of mutual recognition between houses/families with regard to their “usos e costumes”, their “origin”, their local identities, and, in the last analysis, their own ancestors to whom respect and deference are due lest they curse and inflict punishment upon the living. Here it is important to keep in mind how far one can negotiate, for to insist on a unilateral deal may look like disrespect. In fact, rather than bargaining, people make an effort to give more, because a gift is a means to construct one’s status and may alter the standing of social relationships. We can see, then, that the dilemmas and negotiations that surround the organization of marriages impose upon Dili residents a dialogue with what they take to be the “usos e costumes” of their ancestral house, as well as with their social position both in the city and on the hills, among other considerations of status vis-à-vis the social order. From time to time, these quandaries set off reconsiderations of people’s perceptions, reference points, and membership projects. They can also elicit allegiance evaluations and commitment to family nuclei of either fetosaan or umane that have various reciprocal duties with respect to the organization of marriages and funerals. I would like to end this section by saying that the barlake issue is lived out by many Dili people in highly dramatic style in a context of intense social transformations. Some people – mostly men – praise barlake as an antidote to divorce. They say that with barlake there is no divorce, which is good for the maintenance of the unity of the ritual house/family. For divorce to occur, it is necessary to give back what was received as barlake. For example, in Dili´s Court, this issue is the object of dispute in some suits. Many women are compelled to live in a vicious circle of domestic violence because it is impossible for them and their relatives to give back to the husband’s house/family the goods donated at the wedding.

This analysis is still in the making. For this reason, I would like to add to the previous section some issues I intend to pursue in the future to better understand the different positions the East Timor elites take regarding bridewealth prestations, and, broadly speaking, the indigenous “usos e costumes” and the places to which they are associated. Firstly, it is crucial to make some sense of the variety of practices and discourses I encountered during my field research. It seems to me that this variation is associated to at least three specific elements: 1) the differences in form and content of total prestations as they are carried out by the various indigenous peoples who live on East Timor borderlands, from where most Dili residents come and with which they keep some sort of tie. As I said above, it is precisely the representations of the Dili elite about the way barlake is performed on



the hills that make them more or less sympathetic to it; 2) the criteria for ascribing the assimilated to certain East Timorese segments during Portuguese colonization. “Assimilated” were those who adopted Christianity, spoke Portuguese, and, as a consequence (presumed by the colonizers), were “free from their uses and customs.” Hence, to adhere to barlake and other forms of “usos e costumes,” was – and continues to be – a mode of social differentiation lived through with ambiguity and a certain dramatic flair; and 3) the various periods and flows of migration from the interior to Dili. I risk the hypothesis that the deeper the roots in the city, the greater the distance and the criticism my interlocutors expressed toward hill patterns of sociability. An important part of the anti-barlake discourses I heard during my fieldwork resides in the representations about the hills that depict them as places bogged down in irrational practices of sociability, where men and things are equalized in exchanges of various sorts, and where illicit deprivation is undertaken for the sake of ritual performances. Although my interlocutors acknowledged the diversity of the “usos e costumes” carried out on the hills, they often associated them to attitudes of intolerance and inflexibility about barlake, as epitomized in their statements about the Fataluku onto whom they projected images of great rebelliousness, boisterousness, and unwillingness to engage in “civilized” negotiation. With “hill people,” there would be little space for bargaining, it would be necessary to offer exactly what was requested as hafolin, which is often perceived as a deal for selling women. Nevertheless, even among some local elite groups that declare their distaste for barlake, one commonly finds agreement with the animistic practices of ancestor cults. To feed the sacred house and the ancestors is a fundamental part of life, worthy of the resource investment many people make. They fear punishment by the spirits of the dead if ritual prestations for them are not properly done. Various sorts of misfortune in everyday life are explained as the actions of these spirits upon the living, while cases of success are often attributed to the good will and protection of the ancestors. The hills, as a unique place, are therefore, the reservoir of ambiguous and, hence, powerful possibilities: if, on the one hand, they can be places of obscurantism, on the other, they also hold powerful forces that are activated in the daily life of people in Dili. The positive outlook of barlake, in turn, comes from its appraisal as a means to define rules of social relations between individuals and groups in the absence of the State. For this reason, it is considered to be not only rational, but necessary. From this appraisal derives a sympathetic attitude toward the hills and their related “usos e costumes.” Moreover, barlake is viewed as a demonstration of respect and deference, providing kinship ties between houses/families. In the last analysis, its occurrence at weddings permits the celebration of the origins and ancestry of both bride and groom, the nurturing of their bond with sacred houses, and the cult of the ancestors.120
120 As a preliminary report, it is worth mentioning that Raquel Carvalho, in her undergraduate research on representations about Dili and the hills in post-war documents of the Portuguese colonial administration, came upon the existence of ambiguous images. The hills are regarded either as a place of utter irrationality, or of utter rationality. The city, in turn, is either pictured as a mode of civilization, or as a site of vice, both on the part of the “colonizers” and of the “colonized.”



I suggest that the different outlooks on barlake express different forms the Dili elites have to envision and construct the hills as a place sui generis. At the same time, these representations reveal tensions and projects about whether or not the social practices associated with the hills should be part of the imaginings about the nation. Answers to these questions are crucial to define the way in which projects of national identification are being built. The category “usos e costumes” was forged by the Portuguese during their colonization of East Timor. It served to classify the precepts, life ways, and representations that structured the various dimensions of sociability among indigenous peoples overseas. It has often been an important logical operator to create a “national culture” that sets East Timor apart from its neighbors. This “culture,” however, is not automatically created from what is thought to come from the hills. It is built, on the one hand, upon what the local elites have internalized as the images associated with the hills, which are the outcome of Portuguese and Indonesian colonization. On the other hand, it is the result of how these “usos e costumes” are depicted and how other values, discourses, and practices coming into the country from elsewhere are set against them. One dimension of this process is the use the local elites make of representations about “usos e costumes” in the construction of the national imagination. But there is yet another element, namely, the way in which local people regularly handle these representations in different social contexts. The interaction between these projects and local practices reveals significant changes in systems of prestige, sometimes altering power configurations and various modes of subjectivation related to, among other things, gender, generation, and regional origin. These phenomena are not unique to East Timor. As a matter of fact, they are typical of processes of nation-building in many island countries in Oceania. Authors such as LiPuma (1995), Guidieri (quoted in Babadzan, 1988), and Keesing and Tonkinson (1982) have discussed the idea of Kastom as an important mediator in the modernization process of countries like Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, etc. As with the Portuguese costume, kastom is a modern, colonial invention, just as the notion of customary law and tribe (Mamdani, 1988), created to organize and strengthen European overseas colonial administrations. As a kind of bricolage composed of a selection, decontextualization, and (re)articulation (in some cases, codification) of certain aspects of indigenous classification systems, rituals, crafts, principles of sociability, etc., colonial powers built up a hyperreal indigenous culture (Ramos, 1994). In post-colonial contexts, kastom emerges as the basis for a national culture exhibited as primordial and common to all the peoples who live within the boundaries of a given country. Such a culture is then relayed via State ideological apparatuses like schools, museums, and the like, thus promoting a new understanding of the past at the service of interests in the present of which cultural homogenization is an important part. Guidieri (quoted in Barbadzan, 1988) remarks that kastom is a State ideology that upholds the deferral of historicity and the reification of what modernity might be, as well as of what is taken to be an “indigenous culture.” National/indigenous culture is then presented as an inventory of timeless facts unrelated to each other. There is, however, no consensus among the elites about what kastom really is. Therefore, it is fashioned amidst innumerable disputes in which some facts are silenced –headhunting, for example – while others are high-



lighted – such as myths, crafts, dances, etc. Among other things, the construction of kastom has appeared as an important remedy to the politicization of ethnicity in urban centers. In various Oceania countries, the kastom ideology has hardened along with the ideology of development and national unity. In all of them, the highlands, the hills, figure in the national imagination as foundational places. With the articulation of these three valueideas (Dumont, 1997) – kastom, development and national unity – it is then possible to consolidate political projects that encourage alternative modernities, that is, processes of modernization without westernization. However, given that the kastom ideology is an important political mover, it can also set up strategies of resilience, which for a long time have taken on multiple configurations in East Timor and elsewhere …





Recent surveys on the access to the Justice System in Timor-Leste are confirming, with figures, what ethnographic approaches have been saying for a long time: a short level of appeal to the official forms of Justice (police, attorney’s office, public defenders and the Courts) among the District´s population. According to a national survey by Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), only 12% of respondents have already had any contact with the court, against almost 38% which had been involved in local forms of Justice (Avocats, 2008). A similar research done by The Asia Foundation shows that the confidence in the fairness of results is higher for local forms of justice than for Justice provided by State institutions – 85% against 77%. (Asia Foundation, 2008). The resource to local forms of justice (nahe biti boot or tesi lia) has been regularly studied in Timor-Leste in the past 10 years. Research such as that done by Hohe and Nixon (2003) already point out conflicts which emerged from the different characters of these forms of justice (oriented towards reconciliation and for the maintenance of a social balance) and those of the formal justice system (towards individual rights and the punishment of the part found guilty). My own research (Simião, 2006; 2007) already showed how expectancies of users and operators of the formal justice system used to dialogue with local values, frequently producing hybrid practices and even some paralegal ones. In general, however, forms and values presented by local mechanisms of justice have been highly criticized in the discourses of NGOs and national authorities on the base of not following patterns of human (i.e. individual) rights. Such discourses describe local forms of justice in negative terms: they do not ensure the rights of vulnerable groups; do not regard international principles of human rights; do not have impersonal and objective patterns; do not have written procedures, etc. (IRC, 2003; JSMP, 2002). The problem with such a negative-based description is that it does not explain much about the potential of local mechanisms for effectively settling disputes, neither they help to make more usual (or even more legitimate) the appeal for the formal justice system at the village level. In order to do so, one should look for understandings which approximate the formal justice system (legitimate by State, but with much less local credibility) to those practices sanctioned by the customs (but not by law). The discussion above (held for almost a decade) is helping to re-invent local practices as part of the “traditional culture” of Timor-Leste. Supported by the reification of the “usos e costumes” or the “adat” of this or that “people”, the idea of a “customary law” is emerging here and there, and brings to the surface issues related to ethnic and national identity.
121 Research supported by INCT/InEAC – Instituto de Estudos Comparados em Administração Institucional de Conflito and CNPq – Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico / MCT – Brazil.



When a specific legislation is being discussed to frame the so called “customary law” in Timor-Leste, this issue becomes even more important. Should the State support local practices for dispute settling or should it persist with the “civilizational” mission of the positive law? In this paper I approach this issue by rephrasing that question. By reviewing some trials at Dili´s Court, I suggest that the dilemma faced by the East-Timorese Justice System, rather than bringing together law (legal norms) and life (customs), is that of building bridges between different legal sensibilities which would enable to correctly translate expectations and conducts locally routed into the legal language of the State.

For Clifford Geertz (1983), to understand a legal process as a cultural artifact means to assume: a) that any adjudication practice involves a movement of translating the facts of life in order that they can be fitted into the realm of norms – a back-and-forth movement between a language of imagination and one of decision, which F. von Benda-Beckmann depicts as a movement between the “if-then” idiom of general percept and the “as-therefore” one of the concrete case; b) and this results in the fact that the legal process is, itself, a system for imagining the world – the legal description of facts being already a normative one. The challenge for an ethnography of these practices would be to interpret the way in which legal institutions build the translation of the language of norms (the “if-then” idiom) into one of facts (the “as-therefore”). In the “western” tradition this translation assumes that there are: a) rules that sort right from wrong (the judgment), b) and methods that sort real from unreal (proof ). This is, however, only one possible way of translating facts into norms. It is only one legal sensibility, amongst others that can be found in different cultures. In this perspective, the Law and adjudication practices are more than a way of settling disputes, they are an Anschauung, a worldview – a way of building valid interpretations of the world, re-ensuring and recasting cosmologies. In the article I mentioned above, Geertz compares three of these worldviews (the Islamic, the Indian and the Malaysian) identifying for each of them their central sense of justice, their moral/ontological assumptions, their challenges for the adjudication processes and the solutions each of them found for the decision making process. In East-Timor, however, we do not have a single legal sensibility, even at the system sponsored by State. Local forms of justice handle with different and specific legal sensibilities, translating the idioms of norms and interpretation according to different grammars. Many of the problems posed for the acceptance of the State system by the Timorese people seem to araise from this difference in legal sensibilities – a disagreement which prevents the perception of the final result as a fair one. In order to better understand this, I suggest here the analysis of two trials which I could follow at Dili´s District Court in the beginning of 2009, compared to observations I have made in 2002 and 2003.



A significant case for expressing the sense of unfairness resulting from the problems of translation between different legal sensibilities is that of the young I. That’s a case of rape which, as many others I could see in 2003 (Simião, 2005), had been previously the subject of negotiation in local forms of dispute settling. In this case, the 17 years old girl, I., was said to have been raped in a coffee plantation in Ermera by 3 boys of a neighbor Suko. The complaint to the police, however, was not made immediately. When the case became known, the girl’s family settled an arrangement with the family of the perpetrators, by which she would marry one of them, involving in this a small barlake and compensations to be paid for several persons. Ten days after that, when the agreement was about to be implemented, the girl’s brother, for reasons that never became clear, took the case to the police, and a legal process began. The analysis of the narratives constructed by the prosecutor and the defender in Court (a translation from the facts into the legal idiom, mediated by the interests of the attorney and the defender) would already give much food for thought. For instance, an important statement was given by the young sister of the victim, who was at the place when the 3 boys arrived. Reporting part of the incident, she said: “... depois sira nain rua tu`un filafali ba hodi dada hau nia biin kontinua halo seksual, depois de hotu sira halai sae mai ba uma”. Presenting the charges, the attorney (a Cape Verdean lawyer) has so depicted the same scene: “puseram-se em fuga, a correr, para a vila de Ermera” (“they runaway to Ermera village”). That way, the “halai sae ba uma” (went back home) became a “runaway”, implying guilt and shame. This movement of semantic sliding is similar to those made by the public defender. In the statement of the witness there is a scene depicted in these terms: “Hau hare de’it sira hakuak hau nia biin no rasta hau nia biin too iha cafe laran”. In the translation of the (Brazilian) defender, the scene became: “Ela foi para o cafezal de braços dados com G.!!!”. So, the hakuak (which means to hug, but also to catch) became an innocent “de braços dados” (that is, hand in hand). In such situations we see a usual translation movement of many legal processes: the construction of “tales” – as Mariza Correa (1983) called them – in the defender’s and prosecutor’s speeches. It is also remarkable that the fact of the lawyers being foreigners, even supported by interpreters, makes it even more difficult to conflate their translations to the original ones done by the people involved in the case. However, what I want to explore is more than the building of the tale. The central issue is the translation of different legal sensibilities, which emerges when one tries to render meaning to the previous family negation of the events, which have been based on a different grammar. According to the statement of one of the defendants, the families already had sealed an agreement, settling that the girl should marry one of the boys, whose family would provide a barlake of three thousand dollars; and the families of the other two boys would pay the family of the “groom” a fine of one pig and two tais (a fabric piece) each – the fine being a compensation to the “groom” for the sexual intercourse with his “bride”.



The Timorese judge interpreted the family agreement as an attempt to interfering in the proper investigation held by the police, and used this as a ground for sentencing the preventive detention of the suspects: “No caso concreto verifico que as circunstâncias desse processo existe (sic) perigo para recolha da prova porque estão os argüidos tentaram de dar barlaque (sic) para a lesada para que um dos argüidos casar com a lesada (sic). Então há a possibilidade de que a lesada e as testemunhas serão influenciados na recolha das provas neste fase da investigação” 122 On the other hand, the public defender interpreted, in his appeal, that the family intervention was an evidence that the girl’s statement was done under improper influence, so configuring an invalid statement: “O depoimento de I. foi cheio de incoerências e demonstrando claramente que estava sob a influência de acontecimentos posteriores (a forte intervenção da família que tentou o tempo todo ‘negociar’ o barlaque...).”123 None of the legal actors, however, tried to relate the social meaning of that agreement to its original context – a local form of dispute settling and its proper legal sensibility. The final trial, hold on January 2009, sentenced the two major boys to 6 and 5 years in prison. In the eyes of the Justice System, the case was closed. For I., however, her problems were about to begin. In the eyes of her community, the girl was responsible for breaking a deal and, even more, for the imprisonment of the boys. Expelled from her moral community and prevented from returning to her village, she was compelled to leave her parent’s house and seek the protection of a shelter in Dili, provided by an NGO focused on abused children. Hardly could we say that this final solution sounds something near to fairness in the eyes of the victim. Cases like that highlight the social drama that can emerge when no accurate translation is done between the legal interpretation and that which is informed by a very different moral background. That happened again in a very dramatic trial, held in court between 2008 and 2009, which I will call here “the alleged Ninja case”. In May 2008, a boy with mental illness, living in Dili, went alone to watch a soccer match. Coming back home, he got lost and found himself in a distant neighborhood. Late at night he tried to enter a house he thought was his own. The housewife awoke, frightened by the noise, and called her husband, who, helped by his sons, attacked and tied up the boy. As the boy was wearing black and (according to the statements) using a mask, they reached the conclusion he may be a Ninja.

122 “In this specific case I realize there are real threats for the collection of evidences, since the defendants tried to offer barlake to the victim in order to induce her to marry one of them. So, there are real chances of the victim or other witnesses coming under interference of others in this phase of collecting evidences.” 123 The statement of I. was widely inconsistent, clearly indicating that she was under the pressure of postcoming events (the strong interference of the family, which was all the time trying to negotiate the value of the barlake).



Here, we must remember that during the Indonesian occupation, there were many stories involving men in black – named Ninjas – who used to attack houses and kidnap children by night. The image of the “ninja”, thus, gained an almost mythic connotation. The mental illness of the young boy prevented him from clearly explaining his intentions, allowing the men of the house to interpret his presence as a Ninja’s attack. As they didn’t understand what the boy was saying, they even called a neighbor who was from Oecussi, in order to see if the boy wasn´t speaking Baikeno. With the confirmation that he was not speaking any acknowledged language, the verdict of “Ninja” was sentenced, and the man of the house decided that the only safe solution would be to kill the boy, for if he was a Ninja, he could come back later seeking revenge. And so was done. The body, buried in the neighborhood, was finally found by the police some weeks later, during the investigation on the boy´s sudden disappearance. The police reported the case above, and the district attorney charged the husband, two of his nephews and three neighbors for the murder of the young boy and for hiding the body. When this history was translated into the logic of the legal system, it is noteworthy that no attention was paid, by any legal actor, to the reasons which led the defendants to act as they did. The prosecutor produced a narrative of “barbaric and cool-blooded crime”. The defense based its strategy on the silence of the defendants and on alleged inconsistencies in the police investigation. At the sentence, the judging panel, on the section of concluding the “proven facts” (to sort real from unreal), did not even mention the possibility of taking seriously the interpretation of the boy as a Ninja, that is, the idea that for those men, the boy was a real threat, based on a Dili urban myth. “Myth”, here, was taken as “delusion”. The narrative expression of a local cosmology and it´s symbolic power did not receive any special attention, nor any kind of translation to the legal idiom. This becomes even clearer in cases involving witchcraft. As far I could notice, there are already 3 cases of charges for murder involving people that have killed alleged witches (2 in Dili Court and one in Suai). In these cases, the reasons of the defendants, presented in their statements as based on a legitimate defense against witchcraft, are never taken into account by the legal actors, since, in the eyes of the law, it is obvious that witches do not exist. By ignoring local legal sensibilities, the formal process delivers results that are hardly perceived as fair by those involved in it. I focused here only in penal cases. A study of civil cases would give us even more interesting perspectives. There are, for instance, divorce cases, in which the husband asks the barlake to be paid back to his family. One case, in 2005, involved a list of goods including 56 horses, 21 buffalos, 20 goats and more than 30 thousand dollars, among which 10 thousand were given to the wife’s parents and almost 18 thousand were given for rituals in the mountains, including the funeral of the wife´s mother, grandfather and cousin. The case ended up with an agreement according to which only a part of the barlake was “refunded”, so to say.



The cases above seem to indicate that the absence of mediation between legal sensibilities (what we could call an effort in cultural translation) creates tragic situations which prevent the perception of fairness to the parts involved. In a multicultural society, such as the Timorese, the challenge of coping with translation between legal sensibilities should be object of special attention for the State. In TimorLeste we are facing a society which conflates different legal sensibilities: not only different normative descriptions (“modern law” vs.” customary law”) but different ways of translating facts (social practices) into the language of law (laws and conventions, be they “modern” or not). Expressed in these terms, the question is no longer how to oppose or approximate the formal justice system to local practices of justice (be they called “traditional”, “customary” or whatever). Instead, the analysis should try to compare senses of justice, that is, to look for mechanisms that would correctly deal with the expectations for justice of those who are, voluntarily or not, involved in the formal justice system. This is not a movement of conflating law and fact, but of recognizing that there are different ways of translating the normative and interpretative levels, and looking for bridges between those ways, so that dramatic situations do not become even more tragic. The major challenge seems to involve something we also have in Brazil: a conflict between a legal framework founded on modern and equalitarian principles and a deeply hierarchical society, to which the same action can have very different meanings, depending on who is the person in focus. On this issue, more ethnography is required, especially research focusing on the meanings of equality, hierarchy and inequality in the building of legal sensibilities. This paper is just one small step towards that direction.




Due to centuries of colonial oppression and an occupation which was internationally considered illegal, Timor Leste lived for many years without justice and peace. Besides the violation of Human Rights during the successive colonial occupations which have never been dealt with in an orderly manner, the post-independence legal system is faced with continually emerging issues. This is a nation where different systems of laws have been applied over time, inevitably resulting in a state of confusion of the legal system. The question of post-independence justice should be prioritized in the search for a mutual and comprehensive solution. It is important that the country addresses the following issues: The need for establishing a system of law and professional personnel; the need for resolving land and property law, which previously operated under different systems; the need to solve problems amidst legal cultures brought about by colonialism. In Timor Leste the justice sector is one of the key pillars of development. In President Xanana Gusmao’s words “Timor Leste proposes to put ‘the state of law’ on the top of the agenda” of the country’s development. In 2000, a number of international judges, prosecutors and lawyers were posted in the country to meet the challenge of finding suitable solution. A number of Timorese lawyers were trained in a Judicial Training Centre to enable them to work in this sector once the international judges finished their contract. Timor Leste still needs a comprehensive plan and a holistic solution for resolving all the problems of law and justice due to “confusion of the legal system” which were applied in the country. However, there are some basic questions to be answered in this context: Will all citizens have access to justice? Will this justice serve of the entire population? What alternative measures should be taken to support a formal justice system in the country? This presentation aims to address the above questions. First it is necessary to discuss briefly some points about the state of development in the area of justice in Timor Leste in the last 5 years.

Years after the Indonesian occupation and over the course of many successive administrations of United Nations (UNAMET, UNTAET, UNTAET, UNOTIL then UNMIT) especially the UNTAET, the problems faced by the fledging judicial system in Timor-Leste remain unresolved. According to its mandate, the United Nations is to build the nation and began the task in Timor-Leste in rebuilding the destruction caused in 1999. This included the devel-



opment of the legal system. UNTAET enacted new laws, established four district courts, inducted jobs for judges and chose prosecutors and public defenders. This gesture encouraged civil participation in the development of the justice sector. According to the 2004 Asian Foundation Survey on Justice in Timor Leste, there was a general rise in public knowledge in the field of justice a year after independence. Therefore if there is some development in the justice sector this could automatically affect not only the legal sector, but also the social, economic, cultural and political life of the nation. Finally, since 1999, the UN began to support the Serious Crimes Unit, a mixed tribunal comprised of local and international judges. This was to resolve issues arising from the events of 1999 and to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. After the restoration of national independence, the UN (through the UNDP) continued to financially support the judiciary in training judges, prosecutors and public defenders. Soon after independence, Timor Leste elected the president of the Court of Appeals with the assistance of PNUD and Timorese Judicial Organs by introducing a ‘reform package’ aimed at improving the legal system thus far established by the UN between 1999 and 2002. This work titled “strengthening the formal justice sector’ was implemented by the Coordinating Council, an organ established especially for supervising this project. Unfortunately this program was not without problems, as I will explain. Essentially, there was a lack of efficiency in the justice sector in the first year independence. This is a critical overview of the justice sector’s development in Timor-Leste. This presentation intends to find solutions and ideas which can serve as a target to improve the sector of justice in Timor-Leste. This overview also raises the possibility of restoring traditional law, which might help fill the gaps in the existing system.

Timor Leste elected freedom in the 1999 referendum after the 24-year illegal occupation by Indonesia. According to resolution of 1272/1999 the UN Security Council had established the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), headed by Sergio Viera de Melo aimed to restore the most basic infrastructure of a nation which was completely destroyed or non-existent. This included overseeing the legal system. UNTAET first tried to develop a legal system based on article no. 1/1999. UNTAET utilized the Indonesian legal system until 25 October 1999 in Timor Leste. This administration enacted new laws and recognized the Indonesian judicial system for several titles including land and properties managed by the system of customary law and colonial law.



With the introduction of article no 1/1999 UNTAET, a new phase of legal system was in force. But universal human rights have not yet been properly considered and accommodated in the law of the country.

During the Indonesian occupation, very few Timorese graduates from Indonesian universities had been appointed as judges, attorney generals, prosecutors or public defenders. In 1999 there was only one Timorese attorney general and five public defenders. Due to this and based on the mandate to establish a legal system which meets the needs of the judiciary system, UNTAET recruited a number of Timorese judges in late 1999. The judges were trained in Australia for less than a month with little guidance from UNTAET lawyers. They were the first to occupy the judiciary position in Timor Leste from February 2000. In 2003 the government founded the Supreme Judicial Council with the purpose of administering the courts, evaluating and recruiting judges and attorney generals, and working alongside the Ministry of Justice. UNTAET began to enact new laws, known as UNTAET regulations. These formed the basic infrastructure which later facilitated the creation of Timor Leste law. The latter development allowed the recruitment of judges, prosecutors and public defenders to take positions in Timor Leste. The same lawyers also filled the roles of trainers in the Judicial Training Centre established after the transfer of power by the Timorese UNTAET in May 2002. Besides the introduction of courts (4 and a district court of appeals) UNTAET responded to the need to address the serious nature of crimes (e.g. crimes against humanity and war crimes. They also established the occurred Joint [hybrid court] - Serious Crimes Panel for serious crimes, the first in the world, which was made up of national and international jurists. This tribunal was introduced especially for serious crimes committed before, during, and after the referendum in 1999. Even so, the operation of these courts functioned under the supervision of the Court of Appeals.

In August 2001, the first general election of the Constituent Assembly (CA) was held in Timor. The Assembly, as the name suggests, would have the role of preparing the constitution of East Timor. It is noteworthy that after being elected, the CA has facilitated the transformation the first parliament of Timor Leste. The Eighty-eight (88) member parliament includes 55 FRETILIN (historical Party) and the rest is made up of around 10 smaller parties, most of which were established after the referendum in 1999.



In the first government office, a portfolio for the justice sector was also established with the role of preparing legal drafts to be discussed and debated in the Council of Ministers before being submitted to parliament for approval. In performing this task, the ministry worked closely with a group of international lawyers located in parliament and the prime minister’s office for the same task. So far, more than 30 laws, not yet including, Presidential Decrees, Decrees of the Act and other directives have been promulgated. The last bill to be promulgated by the President after being passed in parliament was the law on the status of veterans of the struggle for Independence and the Penal Code including the process of the Criminal Code. The outline of this Code was prepared by a team composed of Ministry of Justice and East Timorese jurists as well as some international experts, primarily from Portugal. While acknowledging progress, it does not necessarily follow that Timor Leste’s is an exemplary success in terms of establishing a nation with the assistance of the international community. The urgency of establishing laws is partly to blame deficiencies in the system. These deficiencies include: There were draft laws approved by parliament which had not been thoroughly debated and discussed, resulting in inconsistencies. Subsequently there are gaps that sometimes allow violation of the law. Besides being very dependent on the government to obtain drafts of the law, nearly 90% of the parliament could not fully integrate themselves because of the language barrier. After Independence and after the FRETILIN government had adopted the Portuguese and Tetum (indigenous language of Timor) as official languages as sanctified in the Constitution, all draft laws were written and approved in Portuguese. Tetum has always been seen as a language that is grammatically inadequate and lacking in terminology. All this resulted in a lack of thorough consideration in parliament of draft laws submitted by the government. There are cases where the government and individual members have violated the law without consequence due to inconsistency of these laws. In certain aspects, the implementation of the laws are strictly “normative” and that left little regard to the aspect of “nonnormative”, resulting in absolute control of government in private citizen’s overstepping their rights as enshrined in the Constitution. In the case of act no. 1 / 2003 on Land and Property, the government has the power to evict people from properties regarded as State property, and gives the occupants no chance to challenge the order. Taking into account these shortcomings, it is necessary that the Timorese government formalize a group dedicated to constitutional reform, to constitute laws that could not be misinterpreted in the future. This would ensure non-violation of these laws by the government and avoid creation of new precedents contradictory to the Constitution.

Before the training of the judiciary by UNTAET in Timor Leste, between September 1999 until January 2000, Timor Leste was terra nullius in terms of land law. In February 2002, a number of judges, prosecutors and public defenders were sworn in by the late Sergio Vieira



de Mello. My view is that the establishment of legal frameworks has brought public confidence in the new government and the state. The judicial system began to function slowly. Over time, judges, prosecutors and public defenders began to gain experience and work together to ensure the progress of the judiciary up until 2004. Still, it is worth mentioning the hope given to the establishment of these institutions and judiciary operations. Besides logistics deficiency and the inability to manage the courts the number of cases being submitted to the court created new problems. Until 2004, only the Dili Court operated effectively due to the concentration of labor in the capital and many of the judges, prosecutors and public defenders in the Timorese capital. Consequently, courts in three other districts (Oecussi, Baucau and Suai) remained paralysed for more than one year, which resulted in over 2,000 cases pending. I must also mention that the inability of judges in their deliberations was identified as an obstacle in developing this sector. Since 2002, the Ministry of Justice, recognised the weakness in this area and began to establish measures for regulating the legal system. This included coordinating all organs of the judiciary state, in particular, the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s Office and the Court of Appeals. The President of the Court of Appeals, under the Constitution, would take full responsibility of the Court until the establishment of the Supreme Court of the nation, also assumes the position as Chairman of the Board of Magistrates. Funded and directed by UNDP, these formalized judicial organs of the establishment of a Coordination Council with an ambitious mandate, i.e. to implement a total reform of the justice sector, among others: Reorganizing the entire judicial system, excluding the Court of Appeal that there was composed of judges, prosecutors and public defenders; Review of the entire judicial system established by UNTAET and implementation of necessary changes to organizational reform of the judiciary; Re-training of judges, prosecutors and Timorese public defenders, based on a curriculum developed and implemented in a Portugal court; Introduction of the Portuguese language in the judiciary which has hitherto used different languages, i.e., Indonesian, English and Tetum; Revocation of all previous laws including those from Indonesia and UNTAET, and enactment of new state laws.

According to the plan mentioned above, the Coordinating Board in cooperation with UNDP Timor Leste launched a two to three year plan titled “reform of the judiciary.” The objective reasons for presenting are; the deficiencies developed by UNTAET in the established system; the inability of judges, prosecutors and public defenders in their de-



liberations, including the problem of separating the Anglo-Saxon system and the Civilian system. In the judiciary system flaws were identified by the courts on the poor performance of judges and the fact that even at the beginning of the year 2005. There were 300 pending cases. One reason, according to the sources of the courts, was the fact that even in early Independence, the four courts were established in the country, and only the Dili District Court was in fact operating. Still, the lack of trained judges, prosecutors and public defenders recent graduates from universities in Indonesia combined with lack of experience and inability in its deliberations, is the result of this said the observer. The Coordinating Council, after the establishment of the Judicial Council, began developing the training curriculum. Working together with five new judges, all from Portuguese speaking countries whom were recruited to work in the courts of Timor Leste. Unfortunately, the Judiciary Council failed all participants in the examination and “forced” them to reintegrate into the training program of two years to be judges, prosecutors and public defenders in the future. To formalize this mission, the Council of Coordination called on the government to approve a decree of law, assuming the inclusion of judges, prosecutors and public defenders in the Courts of Timor Leste. The following problems were identified in training: The curriculum was developed without considering the trainee’s experience of 5 years training In the same curriculum, only in the final year of training were the trainees allowed access to legal material. Still, the "material" referred too is listed only as "basic knowledge" about law, forgetting the fact that they were graduates from schools of law in Indonesia. The emphasis was on improving Portuguese language proficiency. For most participants who had only minimal knowledge in the use of the English, the period of one year of language tuition was not enough. The non-functioning of the judiciary in courts after the resignation of judges, prosecutors and Timorese public defenders from their positions in order to participate in the above mentioned training.

The exodus of Timorese judges form courts that left for training resulted in the integration of international judges and prosecutors in the judicial process. In the first six months the international judges have, according to the President of the Court of Appeals, Dr. Claudio Ximenes, almost solved all pending cases and cases began to meet more effectively in courts. Is this truly the case? With only five international judges to work within a short period can Dr Ximenes be truly convinced that they had performed their tasks professionally and, above all, effectively?



What was not said publicly was that these five lawyers failed to ensure all cases were presented to the court. Only five international lawyers were forced to serve the four courts in Timor Leste while teaching at the Judicial Training Centre. All of this resulted in the fall of numbers of cases before the courtroom. From the start of 2005 to date, less than 1000 registered cases have been heard in the courts of Timor Leste. The problems cited are as follows: In their work, judges are required to move regularly from one Court to another. The moving cost in terms of time allocation and implementation of tasks is enormous. Some cases were tried and decided without sufficient evidence due to lack of time. “For some time not all cases in this court (Dili) are being resolved due to the intense workload” (Comment from an official of the Court of Dili) All the trial processes including the final deliberations were conducted in Portuguese, which many defendants cannot understand. Even when there was translation into Tetum, the translators recruited did not have adequate education in this area, resulting in poor translation and interpretation of the information provided to judges and defendants. Consequently, the result of decisions was not always well received; In some cases, international judges have adopted unconstitutional approaches, for example, in the case of Oecussi in 2004-2005, a judge decided that the community should settle petty crimes outside of court. There were times when the government lacked the logistical resources e.g. transport to facilitate the movement of international judges. At that time only the Dili court was running. Although occasionally there were cases that were initially heard in district courts (Baucau, Suai and Oecussi enclave), the trial and the final decision were made Dili. Due to lack of means of transport to go to the capital and also for economic reasons, the staff of the districts had no opportunity to follow the trials of their own affairs. Judicial reform gave no attention to traditional justice based on the customary system (known as Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR) that is still being practiced in rural areas. The ADR encompasses an anthropological and legal system and is traditionally practiced for resolving disputes of a civil character. In addition to these shortcomings, some of the problems identified in the judiciary system have become an obstacle to the Timorese community because of the registration cost for cases in court. An individual is expected to pay $ 75.00 American. The Timorese government has enacted law 15/2004, minimizing the possibility of private persons referring charges to a civilian court. For example, it stated that an individual is required to pay the Court a sum of money (about 10% or less) when filing accusations against other persons or against groups or institutions. This has discouraged many Timorese people from accessing the courts especially the majority who live on less than $ 1.00 per day. At the moment the justice ministry is finalizing the draft law of the Bar, and will submit to the Council of Ministers and then proceed to the National Parliament. Interestingly, the government intends to take control of the establishment of the Association of Private Lawyers and does not allow them to take their own initiatives in this matter. All private attorneys are required to attend classes at the Judicial Training Center and this training is for



a period of two years, equivalent to that which applies to judges, prosecutors and public defenders. The Lawyers Association of Timor Leste (AATL), established by Timorese lawyers, has no role in this matter. Moreover they do not have recognition by the government. Members of AATL are likely to be penalized by a period of three years if they do not submit to the newly enacted order of lawyers.

The lack of public recognition of lawyers and the limitation given to their performance poses a challenge for the judiciary in East Timor. These private lawyers, previously recognized by UNTAET, were allowed to practice during the period of transitional government (1999-2003). These groups are more integrated in the Advocacy Legal Assistance and more connected to international and national NGOs. Working together with international NGOs, private lawyers continue to provide legal assistance to the community in the form of ADR outside the Court’s decree. Even though they are not recognized by the government, private lawyers continue to carry out their duties as lawyers primarily in civil court cases. This tolerance has been implemented after the Judicial Council found that there was insufficient manpower in the courts after the exodus of lawyers to training, mentioned above. According to the Constitution of Timor Leste, Article 2 of UNTAET and law No. 10/2001 concerning the establishment of the CAVR, ADR retains the legal foundation. Unfortunately, to date there is no law to define organic law with respect to the ADR or the implementation of the traditional system for resolving civil cases.

Based on points outlined in this presentation, I am able to say that the state’s legal system, in particular the judiciary system, remains in a period of obscurity. Besides the technical issues identified in this presentation, we must recognize that the lack of man power, capital and logistics; “the slow disbursement of the budget of the central government and strict implementation of the centralized bureaucratic system of the first government of Timor Leste, are the biggest obstacles to developing an effective and sustainable legal system. The monopolization of government in developing the legal system is evidence of the need for reform. At the top levels in government, it is necessary to have a Reform Commission, not only to revise laws already approved but to adjust the inconsistencies that are present. At the same time we need the ministry of justice to create transparency by consulting other organs of state including civil society, and inviting input on this matter. For example, when preparing the draft for law of the Bar Association, the ministry of justice must not have sole control



and should ensure maximum participation of private lawyers because they will be the first to be affected. Recent graduates will take up their positions as they had previously assumed. Automatically, they should perform their duties in the district courts. In 2007 the Gusmao government introduced new measures to improve the justice system in the country, including the bilateral cooperation with Portugal in the area of justice. The government also modified the curriculum of the training system and accelerated the training of judges, attorney generals and public defenders. It is necessary to take account of the existence of customary system already embedded within Timorese society. Customary law has an important role to play in dispute resolution in civil and criminal society. The minimal government attention in this area and the introduction of the new system of government administration completely ignores the traditional system of governance that also includes customary law. It is necessary to take into account the existence of customary system already embedded in Timorese society. Customary law plays an important role in managing civil and criminal issues in Timorese society. The minimal government attention in this field and the introduction of the new system of government administration completely ignores the traditional system of governance that also includes customary law. There is a need to involve NGOs with their expertise in the area of justice and formulate programs of justice that do not alienate civil society. The development of the judicial system must encompass all stakeholders in the process.





For Sónia who holds a Portuguese passport and a Timorese heart

The result of the Referendum of August 30th, 1999, in which the Timorese voted overwhelmingly to part ways with the Indonesian Republic and claim independence showed the world that, as far as a Nation is defined by a territory inhabited by people who possess a sense of communality and shared values, which are perpetually being renovated a redesigned in accordance to a matrix, and in response to the challenges that life continuously brings, Timor was a Nation. To speak of “nation building” when four in each five inhabitants had expressed in a form that carries the fame of being the very best way for individuals to express their true sentiments regarding public life – universal suffrage and secret balloting – was certainly a misnomer for what might more aptly be called, at best, ‘state building’. In fact, the sudden withdrawal of the Indonesian public authorities and their civil service left an apparent void – not to be equated with the idea that all forms of legitimate power evaporated overnight, because not only the legitimacy of the occupier was very limited, but also on account of deep-rooted forms of legitimacy and authority that existed in the country, ranging from local, village level, to the emerging forms of post-Resistance structures of own government. The task was set to create a new, modern public administration, and the inspiration for much of this model are to be found in the so called ‘best practices’ acknowledged by the ‘international community’. A new state organization was conceived from scratch. Its design, in the first instance (mostly prior to the recognition of Independence on May 22, 2002) and later its deployment and implementation under Timorese own rule supplemented by international aid, became a major goal of public policies. For the Timorese the sudden ‘import’ of a new state model and its underlying paradigms required translation, in the sense that a tool is only useful if it can be operated by those who are to work with it in a proper manner which must combine the tool’s own features and the characteristics of the user. The new institutions, ideas, instruments need to be weaved into the political and cultural fabric the Timorese themselves understand and are capable of manipulating to express their voice, much like they weave their tais – choosing colours, patterns, materials from those available regardless of their geographical origin - thus requiring an active participation in the process of internalizing those elements and absorbing them into their cultural



patterns. This cannot be industrially produced abroad and shipped to the local markets like another commodity: just imagine how an election would represent the will of the voters if everything had been prepared abroad and the instructions were given in a foreign language, like so many gadgets to be found nowadays in Timorese markets. Portugal ranks among those countries who have volunteered plentiful forms of aid, including among these several models of political, judicial and administrative organization. They seem to have found some echo, at least in the political elites of the country. This essay attempts to find a way out of the paradox that a feeble colonial power is now, after more than twenty years of post-colonial failed solution, and in a globalized world polarized by the USA which leads an anglo-saxon legion of followers with strong presence in that region, a clear and privileged partner of the Timorese in their endeavour to create a new democracy.

On May 20, 2002, the proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of TimorLeste marked the final step of a protracted process of self-determination for this half-island of Southeast Asia. Less than three years before, a referendum held under the auspices of the United Nations had signalled the wishes of the vast majority of its people to put an end to a 24-year long experience of Indonesian rule without falling back into any form of formal association with the ‘administrative power’ of what remained in the light of international law a ‘non autonomous territory’ – Portugal. Portuguese sailors had reached Timor from Malacca around 1515, and kept interests in the island ever since (Figueiredo, 2004). But Portuguese colonialism in Timor can be classified as feeble. Not to go further back in time, since the beginning of the ‘Third Portuguese Empire’ (Clarence Smith) in the 19th century, colonial appetites had been focused on Africa, hailed as the ‘New Brazil’. The Asian remnants of past glory kept under Portuguese administration slipped into a mostly symbolic status. Eça de Queirós, a novelist and acute observer of Portuguese mores of late 19th century, claimed that those territories ‘give us no revenue, and we give them not one single improvement. We entertain with them a sublime struggle of abstention’ (1980, p. 1028). As far as Timor is concerned, a colonial administrator writing in the 1940’s, stated that it was ‘a colony without colonizers’ (Correia, 1944a, p. 15). Some of the few hundred Europeans who lived in the colony (408 in 1930, 332 in 1935, 359 in 1940 - all according to the official bulletin of the colony) were political opponents of Salazar regime, democrats and especially anarcho-syndicalist – at least 80 members of the Legião Vermelha (Red Legion) had been deported to the island in 1927, another 50 implied in a rebellion in August 1931- , who had been assigned residence as far from home as the Empire allowed, and were not to be trusted to play significant roles (Figueiredo, 2004, pp. 703-708). Half of the Europeans and most of those who came from other colonies lived in Dili as public servants. In the early 1970’s, the number of European settlers in Timor was not superior to 300 in a population in excess of 600,000 – excluding the short-term presence of military contingents (Durand, 2002, p. 86; Thomaz, 1994, pp. 672-673). The Salazar regime claimed the superior



capacity of the Portuguese to mix with locals, and therefore the assimilados, or mixed-race, were counted separately – but their number was always far below the 1,000 threshold: 600 (1930), 677 (1935), 689 (1940) (Figueiredo, 2004, pp. 703-704) The administration of the territory, even after the campaigns of Governor Celestino da Silva (1894-1908) and the war of Manufahi (1912) which are supposed to have marked a turn towards a greater involvement of colonizers in the internal affairs of the country and end an ‘intermittent colonization’ (Defert, 1992, p.283) was respectful of local, ancient political structures (Hohe, 2002) and remained, to a large, extent based on fostering and managing rivalries between them, thus keeping ‘archaic features’ (Thomaz, 2001). The Governor of the colony in the 1960’s acknowledged that his intentions to invest in structural projects was thwarted by the lack of human resources – there was not a single engineer in the territory (Barata, 1995, p. 55). Education was limited to the secondary level, itself characterized by Durand as ‘totally indigent but for the Liceu of Dili and the Seminar of Dare’ (2002, p. 60) and very few Timorese – either of European origin or native ones – had access to Portuguese higher education, in contrast to the situation in other colonies. Luis Cardoso’s novel The Crossing (2000) portraits the local elite at the end of the Portuguese rule, and it clearly shows the feebleness of formal education beyond what was available on the territory. The basic commodity of colonial rule – the use of Portuguese language – was restricted to a small minority. When the Revolution of 25 April 1974 brought about the desire to put an end to the colonial adventure of Portugal, and entailed the recognition of the right to self determination, Timor was regarded by many in Lisbon as a case which might follow the example of Goa – to be integrated into a neighbouring giant, this time not by force but through negotiation, much in the same way as the future of another Asian territory, Macau, was being conceived. Almeida Santos, the minister in charge of this process, admits that three possibilities were actually envisaged – full independence (not believed to be possible on the short term), integration within Indonesia (not believed to be desired by this country – but actually a scenario that was long being prepared and soon made inroads into the scene), and continuation of a link with Portugal (Santos, 2006, II, pp. 297-298). These three positions were mirrored in the political stances of the parties that emerged in Dili in the aftermath of the Revolution. The negotiation process undertaken by the Portuguese authorities with representatives of Timorese opinion, however, soon came to a stalemate and a brief and ‘low intensity’ civil war broke out in August, 1975 between the pro-independence movement (Fretilin) and those who opposed it, led by UDT (not a straightforward supporter of integration). Fretilin was soon in control of Dili, the Portuguese military withdrew to Atauro leaving the control of the country in their hands, and in an act of despair Independence was unilaterally pronounced on November 28, 1975. Indonesia, however, had made it clear that it was ready to accept a prolonged presence of the Portuguese but not the independence of the territory (Santos, 2006, II, p. 299) and took over by force, certain as it was of important international support (US President Gerald Ford was in Jakarta the day before the invasion officially started). The military occupation of this territory – officially started when the armed forces of Indonesia attacked and took control of Dili on December 7, 1975, but actually already under way for some weeks, as the process of the ‘Balibo Five’ (a group of western journalists mur-



dered in the western part of the territory a few weeks before to prevent news of this move to reach the outer world) clearly evidences – and its transformation into Indonesia’s 27th province (Timor Timur) must be classified as a failed post-colonial solution. The Republic of Indonesia had gained independence from Holland in the aftermath of World War II, and the initial territory had been expanded over the next decades through the incorporation of other former colonial remnants. The absorption of half an island with no more than 15,000 km2 and a population under one million seemed a minor episode in a country with thousands of islands and over 200 million souls. In the first decades after Independence, the Republic of Indonesia had crafted a leading place in the new, ‘non-aligned’ movement and was a beacon for colonized peoples. But after the coup that replaced Sukarno by Suharto and left a trail of blood, the regime was a blatant dictatorship mostly aligned with the US interest in the area. Unlike India, whose democratic regime facilitated the integration of former Portuguese territories of Goa, Damão and Diu into the Union in the 1960’s, and granted them voice, Indonesia opted for a brutal rule and genocide (see Durand 2002, p. 89 for estimates of deaths under the occupant). The creation of ‘the 27th province’ was mostly cosmetic, in spite of the investments actually realized, dwarfed by the pillage of resources and the policies that favoured transmigrants over autochtonous populations. In the words of Thomaz, ‘In other circumstances, under another regime and with an army less inclined to oppression and violence, maybe the cultural ties that, in spite of all other elements, link the Timorese to their neighbours, could have worked in a different way and served as a factor for integration; but the misconduct of the soldiers and their attempt to impose a Javanese conception of power – holistic, hierarquical, providencialist – led the Timorese to privilege what were their differences instead of what could unite’ (Thomaz, 2001). This was the state of affairs that the east-timorese rejected in the referendum of August 30, 1999.Self-determination came thus after a long period of feeble Portuguese colonialism and a short and brutal period of failed post-colonial experience under Indonesian rule – a most unusual combination that singles out Timor.

The staging of the referendum and the respect for its result owed its success to a number of combined factors, namely: a. the struggle of the Timorese people and its capacity to oppose a fierce Resistance to the invaders and create and sustain articulate organizations of different nature to represent their interests; b. the stubborn persistence of the Portuguese authorities who kept the issue alive in international fora, namely in the UN, an organization that never changed the classification of Timor as ‘non-autonomous territory under Portuguese administration’;



c. the economic crisis that affected East Asia in the late 1990’s and which shocked the foundations of the Indonesian dictatorial regime; d. the end of the Cold War and the spread of the ‘third wave of democratization’ (Huntington). The context of a post-Cold War world is a key element to understand the creation of the first new nation of the 21st century just as much as the Cold War is essential to explain the solution that was adopted in 1975. Indeed, geo-political considerations and fears of a country with friendly relations with the soviet bloc (or with the Chinese) were behind the support offered by western powers to Indonesia, a position that had matured for over a decade (Moisés Fernandes, personal communication). The same reasons apply when it came to turn a blind eye on the Indonesian’s genocide practices whose impact does not come second to the khmer rouge in Cambodja, which have caught the eye of the world and justified strong intervention. As Almeida Santos aptly put it, ‘in the correlation of powers between East and West, the logic of interest prevailed over the logic of principles’ (Santos, 2006,II, p. 326). In the post-Cold War world, however, respect for human rights and creation of democratic institutions assumed a new dimension. This is the context in which Timor emerges as a new nation. The rhetoric of anti-colonialism so present in 1975 was no longer enough to mobilize the indispensable international support. International support came to Timor in the form of an-off multilateral intervention (military, humanitarian, economic, political, …) under the aegis of the United Nations. Bi-lateral support, when it existed, as in the case of Portugal, accepted, at least in the first phase, the broad umbrella of the UN. The scope of this intervention, and the vast array of powers conferred upon the personnel assigned to Dili, has no parallel in previous missions, and has received the epithet of ‘UN Kingdom of East Timor’ (Chopra). The United Nations were eager to stage an exemplary mission and to foster the emergence of a new, independent country with fully democratic credentials in a brief period of time (given the fact that its heavy presence swallowed considerable amounts of funds). True, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Brazilian diplomat in charge of this mission, managed to obtain from the Security Council enough room of manoeuvre in order to associate Timorese political leaders to his government in a more comprehensive way than had been achieved in other missions, such as Cambodja (Powell, 2008, pp. 286-344). But the overall picture is still one of a frame of reference drawn for the Timorese by the ‘international community’ with narrow options. Two critical decisions were taken in this period that were to have lasting consequences. First, the option for a formal election of a Constituent Assembly, to take place on August 30, 2001. The envisaged life-span of this assembly was short (six months), thus curtailing the possibilities of a widely participated debate, including at the grass-roots level, as suggested among others by Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos, then working for the UN. (Vasconcelos, 2006). The second critical decision, closely associated with this view of a ‘procedural democracy’ being developed in the country according to international standards, was to cut short the life of the umbrella organization that had played a leading role in all aspects of the process ever since its formation in 1998 – the CNRT – and to dispense a ‘transition period’ to ‘full



democracy’ based on political inclusion of a wide spectrum of opinion and the rules of consensus rather than on majority versus minority, which dated back at least to the Peace Plan approved in 1992 and that was the backbone of the proposals Ramos Horta put forward at his Nobel Prize Laureate Lecture in 1996. The dissolution of CNRT after Fretilin announced it would leave the organization signalled that the rules of a new political game had to be crafted in yet another short period. The question that arises from the above considerations is this: what could be the contribution of Portugal to the challenges facing the new nation? This has got to be answered bearing in mind not only what has been refered above as a feeble colonial rule – as opposed to other colonial models supposed to have left deep imprints in the social fabric of the colonized territories, the British in India being often the paradigm – but also the fact that Portugal, unlike other major European colonial powers (France, Holland, Belgium), was not a democracy for most of the twentieth century, namely in the period prior to de-colonization, and thus the “legacy” that might have survived would probably not be favourable to the new situation.

Among the critical elements that shape the Timorese political system and can be viewed as being influenced by Portugal the following can be singled out: a. the Constitution and the choice of a ‘semi-presidential’ regime b. the electoral system and the organization of the electoral process c. the philosophical foundations of the juridical system

At midnight on the 20th day of May 2002, Xanana Gusmão proclaimed the Independence of the first nation to be officially born in the 21st century. As of that moment, Xanana would be the first President of the Republic, as he had been elected according to the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, crafted by a specially designed Assembly, which then became the fundamental law of the land. The transitional period that ran from the Referendum of August 31, 1999, and more specifically, from the time when the UN Security Council established a provisional authority in the territory, has been regarded as a ‘benevolent authoritarian regime’124 (Chesterman, 2004) given the extent of powers entrusted to the Special Representative of the Secretary General and his team of international co-operants and advisors, the UNTAET – United Nations Transitional Administration of East Timor, without any precedent in the history of similar
124 Freedom House rated Timor as a ‘non-free’ polity with 6 points out of maximum of 7



operations. ‘The Benevolent Dictator’ is the title of one chapter referring to Timor in Samantha Powell’s biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello (Powell, 2008) A key element resided in the transfer of power to the Timorese. In this context, the creation of a broad legal framework under the form of a Constitution, and the ways to achieve such a goal, were amply debated before the option to legalize political parties on the short time, and organize elections for a Constituent Assembly, granting this institution with six months to complete the whole process. Pedro Bacrelar de Vasconcelos reports from his experience “The decision to charge one specifically elected body with the sole task of elaborating the fundamental law – a ‘Constituent Assembly’ - was not the only possibility that the UN considered. On the contrary, the virtues of an ample form of consultation that would involve the entire population, capable of engaging local communities in a decentralized debate with the Timorese political leaders, and make them participate in the political process, were emphatically stressed in the words of the transition administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, before the delegates to the Congress of CNRT in August 2000. However, the decision that was taken later in the year to call elections for a Constituent Assembly in the following August would bring political action into the conflictual ground of formal representation and dispute for votes. Among many other good intentions, an opportunity was lost to build an open and plural consensus based upon the diverse currents of opinion, political forces, and the multiple interests and sectors of the Timorese society” (Vasconcelos & Cunha, 2009, pp. 232-233). In a way, this decision brought about the dissolution of CNRT by Xanana and represented a severe blow to the perspective of a protracted process of transition based on consensual co-operation that was the cement of unity before the Referendum of 1999. After this, it would be “politics as usual” like in any established, stable democracy - a sort of trompe l’oeil that many were eager to take for the real thing Fretilin won a confortable majority of seats, enough to impose the model of its choice. Ruled out was the re-appropriation of the 1975, Marxist inspired, short-lived Constitution – both the international and the national contexts would not tolerate that. The leadership of Fretilin seems not to have had great difficulties in proposing a draft inspired by the Portuguese Constitution of 1976 – which they had grown used to see in operation in the process of consolidation of the Portuguese Democracy after the Carnation’s Revolution. Also, the Portuguese Constitution of 1976, with its amendments and some forms of “translation” to be adapted to different circumstances, had made an impact in Lusophone Africa, including the country that had offered the Timorese leadership more substantial support – Mozambique. (Gouveia, 2006) So, with no real surprise – in spite of the absence of a direct presence of advisors, as had happened in other lusophone contexts – ‘the main written source of the Timorese Constitution, crafted and approved by the Constituent Assembly on the 22nd March 2002, was the current Portuguese Constitution’ (Vasconcelos, 2006, p. 70).



Among the elements that signal a convergence between the two texts, a special mention should be made to the choice of a ‘semi-presidential’ form of government – an aspect that has recently been the subject of a thorough study in the Lusophone world (Lobo & Neto, 2009) – and which reveals not only the extent to which the Timorese fundamental law owes to the Portuguese, as we have been assuming in the lines above, but also the latitude for adaptations and the way the Timorese used it. To put in short what would take a full paper to fully justify125, in most comparative studies of ‘semi-presidential’ regimes or forms of government, the key variable is assumed to be the powers pertaining to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, or Government, assuming by default what is not specifically attributed to the President. In the Lusophone world, where the Portuguese experience is regarded as the common matrix, the variation in the presidential powers is quite substantial. Leaving aside the case of Angola (which in the meantime has made steps towards a presidential regime), the extreme points of variation in a numeric scale (taken to represent synthetically the existence/inexistence or strength of several qualitative indicators) are 18 for the case of Mozambique, and 8.5 in Timor-Leste, Portugal scoring 11.5 (Lobo & Neto, 2009, p. 267). On a first approach, this seems to contradict my previous argument that Mozambique may have been an intermediate in the dissemination of the Portuguese model among the Timorese leadership in exile in that country. It need not be so. Rather, it reveals the flexibility of the model as well as the political wisdom of Alkatiri and his followers, who took their decisions based not only on an abstract model, but on a careful analysis of the situation in Timor-Leste. Fretilin knew, after having comfortably won the elections for the Constituent Assembly, that the electoral bill regulating those elections had a provision anticipating the possibility of the mandate being extended for a full legislative term without having to call fresh elections after the approval of the fundamental law – and thus, that they had received a mandate they could preserve for five or even six years126. No incentive existed for those who commanded the majority of the Assembly not to envisage giving the Government, and the Prime Minister, a substantial share of political power, or to foster a substantial partition of power. Outside the Assembly, however, Xanana Gusmão – who had broken his ties with Fretilin in the mid 1980’s, and recently dissolved the CNRT after disputes emerged in the wake of the Referendum – commanded a fairly wide basis of support, even if not organized in a political party. He could chose either to capitalize on his popularity by running for President (as he did, polling over 80% of the vote) – but would only do so, in spite of all international pressures in that direction, if the job was more than one of formal representation – or decide to “go treat my orchard”, as he often said he was inclined to, and be a major force outside the political system, with foreseeable negative consequences for the stability of the regime and consolidation of democracy. Before these conceivable alternatives, and without
125 This section is further developed in Feijó 2009 (forthcoming) 126 There was an ambiguity in the words of the Constitution that allowed Fretilin to keep its majority from August 2001 to the general elections of June 2007 – almost six years.



a candidate that might challenge Xanana at the polls, Fretilin opted to grant the President moderate powers in an effort to create a (minimally) inclusive system and keep the major actors in active roles. The result of this weighing of the scale turned out to be, as stated, the lusophone semi-presidential regime in which the President commands fewer power.127 The matrix was respected, its flexibility tested, and its adaptation to the short term political dilemmas of the dominant party in the Assembly also assured.

One interesting aspect of the influence of Portugal consists of the electoral system, comprehending both the electoral supervision organizations and the choice of a method of converting votes into parliamentary seats. As for the first aspect, and contrary to the widespread practice of having a single body supervising the electoral process under the scrutiny of Parliament, Timor-Leste made a choice for a double-bodied structure, placing one – STAE: Secretariado Tecnico de Administração Eleitoral (created by Diploma Ministerial 3/2004 on the 5th May 2004) – under direct administration by the Minister for Home Affairs - off State Administration, assuming this to be a purely technical body without any power to make politically sensitive decisions; and entrusting the overall organization and politically sensitive decisions to an independent, multi-party body called CNE – Comissão Nacional de Eleições (actually created by the Law 5/2006, on the 19th December, but existing since the UNTAET period - a pre-Independence body which was used in the 2004 local elections). This actually mirrors the early choice made in Portugal, which has been modified in recent years, after it was adapted in TimorLeste. Contrary to the Portuguese example, where there were no significant public signs of disagreement between STAPE (Secretariado Tecnico de Apoio ao Processo Eleitoral, lodged in the Ministry of the Interior) and CNE (Comissão Nacional de Eleições, an independent body), let alone of public confrontation, the fact that one organization is closely controlled by the Government whereas the other reflects a plurality of opinions has led, in the case of TimorLeste, to significant levels of public showing of mistrust and open divergence between the two organs (up to the 2007 elections at least). More than that: the-off STAE played a major role in the preparation of the electoral laws of 2006, namely the Law 6/2006, passed by the National Parliament, which rules the procedures in the case of parliamentary elections. Among other items, this bill took the unusual step of replacing the formula used in the first (‘foundational’) national elections held in Timor – the Constituent elections of August 2001 – without any Constitutional justification, since the fundamental law of the land specifies that the ‘conversion of votes into mandates will be done by a method of proportional representation’ (article 65.4). But the ‘SainteLague method’ used in 2001, which respects the constitutional mandate, was replaced

127 See Feijó 2006 and Forthcoming 2010 for further elaboration



by the one the Portuguese experts aiding STAE were more familiar with – the ‘d’Hondt method’ (Feijó, 2010). The background to this alteration can be summarized thus: in 2005, Ana Pessoa, then Minister for State Administration, asked the UN for technical aid in the field of election; the UN dispatched to Timor a Needs Assessment Mission who conducted his job and issued a report in which notice was duly taken of the delicate and intricate balance of powers in the country, the authorities to tackle electoral issues reaching further than the ‘government’ alone – but the expected follow up was slow, and in the meantime another letter had been sent to ask for Portuguese bilateral assistance, which was approved in a short time. The Portuguese team arrived in Dili by March 2006 to work with STAE, bypassing some of the recommendations of the UN team led by Judge Johann Kriegler, who insisted on the Parliament (not the Government) central role in passing the legislation and therefore in receiving the required assistance. As this process was under way, the President of the Republic, Xanana Gusmão, took an initiative to call all political actors to publicly discuss the electoral issues that required a parliamentary initiative128 – and not a single participant thought the change of the ‘Sainte-Lague’ method to be among the issues to be raised. This episode reveals the extent to which bilateral political relations between the governments of Timor-Leste and Portugal manage to make some goods available faster and in a more efficient way than the heavy, bureaucratic machinery of the UN – even if in this case the UN had a strong point of principle, that is, not to be seen as partisan (which the Portuguese government actually disregarded by engaging directly with one of the parts, the Fretilin-supported Government).

The third case is one of high controversy: the adoption by the Timorese authorities of juridical and judicial formulae in line with Portuguese, and thus Continental-European models, as opposed to the anglo-saxon tradition in this matter, with significant ‘clashes of paradigm’ (to recover the excellent formula of Tanja Hohe) involving part of the international community. One example will illustrate this point. The 2007 report by Freedom House on Freedom in the World reads: ‘A national debate erupted in early 2006 over a revised penal code that criminalises defamation and allows for fines and jail terms up to three years for anyone who publishes comments seen as harmful to an official’s reputation. Another revision doubles the term of imprisonment when defamation is committed through the media. The new code follows increased government efforts to crack down on journalists over the last three years, as reporting has
128 I refer to a series of Conferences, the first of which was held with the participation of the then visiting President of the Portuguese Republic, Jorge Sampaio, in February 2006. I was then a member of the team charged with the organization of this conference and therefore I base my remarks on first hand knowledge of the way events unfolded.



grown more critical. The Prime Minister signed an executive order approving the new code in December 2005129, alarming several international and pressfreedom watchdog groups, which subsequently lobbied President Gusmão to veto the legislation right up to the date it was scheduled to come into effect in mid-February. Gusmão sent the law back to the Ministry of Justice for consideration on February 17, where it has remained since130. The criminal defamation provisions of the Indonesian penal code apply until a new East Timorese penal code is promulgated”. The following year, the annual report notes that the proposed Penal Code ‘has remained with the Minister of Justice for consideration since February 2006’ - after taking good note that elections had been held and a new government formed by the previous Opposition to Fretilin was now in power. In 2009, the new report states: ‘Press freedom is limited by criminal defamation provisions of the Indonesian penal code that continue to apply until the new East Timorese penal code is promulgated. An East Timorese penal code was finalised in October 2008, however, and was awaiting ratification by year’s end. The original draft of the bill maintained the defamation provisions of the Indonesian code, although the Ministry of Justice removed the criminal defamation provisions in September after public consultation, a move hailed by rights activists as a significant step towards expanding press freedom’. The last report from Freedom House (2010) acknowledges the fact that the President signed the new government proposal for a Penal Code (30 March 2009) which, among other novelties, removed the contentious clauses on defamation. It does also take into consideration that all charges brought under the interim legislation were dropped after the new Code was enforced. Yet, surprisingly, Freedom House did nor see it fit to reflect those positive changes in the rating for Civil Liberties in Timor Leste, maintaining it in line with those years when the issue was regarded as a threat to the freedom of the press… Two comments are necessary at this stage: first, Freedom House is not alone in their claim that attempts promoted by Mari Alkatiri’s government to pass legislation that actually was not sanctioned by the President of the Republic, constitute a serious event that contributes to the penalty they imposed by lowering the mark from 3 to 4. Among others, Siapno (2006) and Simonsen (2006) have argued – even if using a question mark or referring to a temptation rather than an outcome – that Timor was drifting down a ‘path to authoritarianism’. As argued elsewhere (Feijó, forthcoming), the main thrust of the argument collides with the fact that the Constitution of the Republic, and the political and legal action of a sometimes underrated President of the Republic, seem to have provided enough guaran-

129 Actually, the Penal Code was approved in a formal session of the Council of Ministers, thus involving the entire government 130 Technically, this was a compromise solution reached by agreement between the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. This solution was made in order to avoid a former use of the vetoing powers of the President, and is not explicitly consecrated in the Constitution.



tees to fail those attempts and secure substantial revisions of the bills in question in line with the requirements of Human Rights standards. Second, it is curious to notice that the criminal defamation provisions of the proposed Penal Code closely mimic similar dispositions of the Portuguese Penal Code (chapter VI, articles 180 and 183) – and Portugal, with those very same solutions for an important issue pertaining to the exercise of public liberties and the existence of a free press, has been consistently rated at top rate 1 by Freedom House…131 The elaboration of the Timorese Penal Code was made in the framework of an overarching agreement between the governments of Timor and Portugal, and a senior legal advisor was dispatched to work in close association with the Ministry of Justice in Dili. Other Portuguese specialists have also been working on other themes of the Legal and Judicial system of the new nation. The incident regarding criminal defamation was the noisiest of the problems raised by a multitude of local NGOs and local branches of international organizations (from UNICEF to International Labour Organization). More than detailed technicalities – which also occurred - most criticism to the original proposed bill derived from different philosophical approaches to Law and the Judicial system. In choosing the Portuguese in a part of the world where anglo-saxon models are dominant, Timor took a bold decision that requires consistency. Removing the broad framework from the discussion of single issues tends to obscure rather than illuminate what is at stake, as could be illustrated by the fact that failure to reach agreement over the new penal code meant that the Indonesian Penal Code – not known for its democratic and human rights virtues since it is the same one that existed at the time of Suharto dictatorship – has remained the law under which Timorese had to settle their disputes in this sensitive matter.

The key to unravel the paradox of a feeble colonialism exercised by a country with limited democratic traditions such as Portugal, being transformed into a strong influence in the shaping of the basic elements of the newly independent Democratic Timor-Leste, defeating alternative models with large influence in neighbouring countries should be sought in the combination of two elements a. the rising influence of Democratic Portugal, directly or indirectly, on the leaders of the Timorese Resistance in the period between 1975 and 1999; and b. the evolution of the Timorese leadership in response to the emerging complexity of their own society in terms of plural forms of representation. The first aspect encompasses at least three relevant components.

131 However, the provisions of the Portuguese legislation have consistently been regarded by the European Court of Justice as contrary to human rights and thus the Portuguese authorities accumulate defeats at the hands of those judges, who stubbornly insist on a view that gives greater protection to freedom of expression.



First, the official stance of Portuguese authorities in international fora, namely in the United Nations, denying Indonesia the right to be recognized as a legitimate ruler of Timor-Leste, and maintaining the flame of the need for a proper act of self-determination under the auspices of the international community as a key to any solution of the Timorese question. This attitude was particularly significant in the 1980’s when the forces of realpolitik took over many governments of western democracies, and Indonesia closed the gap in successive votes in the UN General Assembly, only to be prevented from actually reversing the trend by the combined impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the shockwaves of the dissemination of impressive images registered and circulated by Max Stahl of the Santa Cruz Cemetery bloodshed (November 1991) perpetrated by Indonesian military on defenceless, barehanded Timorese. The moral dimension of a small country struggling against the odds and the Great Powers to keep the Timorese question as an issue that required the involvement of the international community to challenge the use of force and redress the rule of international law was accrued in this critical period. Secondly, after an initial phase in which former colonies had turned to radical, single party ‘Popular democracies’, those new African nations slowly turned to processes of democratization – of which Cape Verde is perhaps the leader and the most successful case - and were inspired by the Portuguese Constitution of 1976 (often helped by Portuguese advisors who had a significant impact in drafting the new constitution of a number of lusophone countries). Mozambique is a special case, not only because of its ability to put an end to a protracted civil war and initiate a transition towards a new democratic and inclusive regime, but because this very process was witnessed first hand by an important part of the Timorese leadership, mostly of Fretilin, who had sought shelter in this western shore of the Indian Ocean. In this sense, one might argue that the transition to democracy in lusophone Africa in the 1990s indirectly touched the Timorese leadership and above all those who had the privilege of actually witnessing its impact in the healing of deep wounds from a civil war – not altogether unlike the memory of the events of the months leading up to the occupation of Timor Leste by the Indonesian forces. Third, the reaction of the Portuguese public opinion made it easy –or even compulsory – for political decision-makers in the crucial months surrounding the Referendum of 1999, to engage in a substantial way in the aid efforts to the martyrized brethren of Timor Leste. The flux of Portuguese co-operants to Timor-Leste, which reached several thousands, can be viewed as a reflex of the deep-rooted sentiments of the general public opinion132. The issue of de-colonization had left scars in the memories of more than one generation. Although many were convinced that the “exemplary decolonization” was no more than what the circumstances created by stubbornness of the Salazar-Caetano regime would allow and thus accepted it with realism, in contrast to those who were severe critics of the whole process, most seemed to converge on a negative appraisal of the ways followed by
132 Having been deeply touched by this wave of solidarity, and having been myself a co-operant in Timor-Leste, I reflect here upon my own experience, and dedicate this piece of work to one of the finest examples of this group of Portuguese who good-heartedly gave part of their lives in a mission of pure solidarity.



the former colonies (especially in the immediate aftermath of Independence) and, to a certain extent, dreamed of a really “exemplary decolonization” that Timor appeared, in 1999, to embody. The scope of public enthusiasm and mobilization can be gauged by the fact that the public reception to Xanana in Lisbon, in the end of summer 1999, is deemed to be the second biggest civic, public demonstration of the 20th century, being surpassed only by the 1st of May, 1974 – the public endorsement of the military coup of the previous week.133 The impetus of the public support for an active involvement in the reconstruction of Timor Leste was thus a critical element in helping to shape the political decision. But the other side of the coin must also be stressed: the evolution of the Timorese leadership, whose culminating point may be said to consist of the foundation, in 1998 – that is, one year before the critical agreement of May 1999 that paved the way for the Referendum to be held, and self-determination to be achieved through a democratic mechanism that the international community endorsed – of the Conselho Nacional da Resistencia Timorense (CNRT). Over the years, the Council successively dropped the ‘Revolutionary’ mention for the ‘National’ one, and later on the ‘Maubere’ epithet that was a remnant from divisive moments of History in favour of the plain, un-ideological ‘Timorese’. CNRT brought together all the components of the Resistance to the Indonesian occupation, from those who had proclaimed Independence on the 28 November, 1975, to those who had fought on the other camp in the brief civil war of the previous August and were disillusioned with the evidence of Indonesian brutality. 1998 marks the recognition that the Resistance was not the property of a single movement or group of personalities – it had embraced the vast majority of the Timorese. And Timorese society had, in the twenty odd years since the invasion by the giant neighbour, become a more complex one: to quote but a few examples, Dili jumped from 20,000 to 200,000 inhabitants, schooling grew from residual to encompass a sizeable share of the youth, the Catholic Church emerged as an autonomous Timorese voice, roads were built that facilitated contacts. Not surprisingly, new forms of organization and resistance were created – from RENETIL, the student’s network, to the emergence of the moderate sector who had sided with Indonesia in 1975. Xanana was the first to acknowledge in the mid 1980’s the defeat of the political model inherited from 1975 and to break the ground for the new, polymorphic Resistance to emerge – and this was certainly not an easy move for a man trapped in the mountains (Mattoso, 2005). Falling in the hands of the Indonesians increased his international visibility – and maybe enhanced his instincts to broaden his views. Ramos Horta, who had kept the flame alive as much as possible outside Timor, kept close relations with Xanana throughout the period. His familiarity with the changing conditions of post Cold War situation deepened the view he expressed in his Nobel Peace Laureate acceptance speech that Timor was ready for a Democratic future, as detailed in the Peace Program drafted by the then CNRM, when he expressed the view that

133 I leave aside all references to religious manifestations, namely those which have taken place in Fatima



‘we will endeavour to build a strong democratic state based on the rule of law which must emanate from the will of the people expressed through free and democratic elections’ (Horta, 1996)134 It was thus the merger of the Portuguese stance as a proactive Democratic state, a forerunner and player of the ‘Third Wave of Democratization’, and the solo defender of Timor and Timorese rights in their years of solitude and abandonment, with the leadership that was eating the bitter bread of disillusions (both of ‘revolutionary days of plenty’ or ‘respectful integration of a people with a soul of its own’) and open to experience the taste of Democracy that thrived on a soil where few seeds had been sown before. The impact of Portugal on the political structures of the new nation, much more than the rhetoric about ‘five centuries of constant presence’, of which little was palpable in the realm of democratic institutions, principles and foundations, is the result of the works of one generation: the generation of Portuguese that built a democratic and solidary country, and the generation of Timorese who found in the opposition to the Indonesian violent occupation the reason to gather together, respecting diversity and worshiping peace. So far, what has been established is the use of a Portuguese political grammar by the Timorese political elites in their endeavour to weave a new democratic administration. The extent to which this grammar has been translated in ways that empower the Timorese citizens at large to use them in order to express their voice remains a topic for further investigations.

Porto, 31 December, 2010.

134 I wish to thank both Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos Horta, now respectively Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Timor-Leste for extensive interviews granted in November 2009, which form part of the accumulated knowledge used in the preparation of this essay.




A foreign policy is considered legitimate when it embodies not only national values and beliefs but also political and economic interests. Constraints are bigger and options limited for achieving a legitimacy, which tends to underline the exercise of the few capabilities of a State with a diminished sovereignty (Smith, 2005, 15). The margin of choice – a kind of geopolitical fate - is limited to dependence from the neighbor great powers and to the emphasis on international aid. Timor-Leste is a very interesting case-study for International Relations Theories and an example of the oscillations in the cooperation between States, of the variable capacities of the international organizations, of the growing importance of non-governmental organizations, of the individual and civil society roles. In this article, the external dimension of this State-building process will be analyzed keeping in mind the need of an adequate foreign policy given all the fragilities and limits of the state. Politically, economically and socially fragile, Timor-Leste remains one of the poorest countries in the world and its need for support in security issues as well as in aid is well known. Some preliminary remarks on East Timorese foreign policy: for this little new comer, placed in such a special geopolitical environment and within a very constraining neighborhood, foreign policy is a very important tool for the State, even when the State in question has a very limited margin of action. Let us start for the regional insertion of Timor-Leste, in which the “crocodile” is necessarily an interface between two blocs. The geographical situation of Timor-Leste puts it in between two worlds: an Austronesian world and a Melanesian world. This feature puts the stress in a discussion of belongings which is capital for defining foreign policy: Timor-Leste is at the cross-roads between Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. It seems that East Timorese foreign policy options should exclude a definite choice between two worlds. Bearing in mind this dilemma, it will be necessary a reflection on various questions, such as ASEAN’s growing dynamic and East Timorese membership to the organization, as well as the role of Indonesia, its relations with Australia and foreign policies of both countries. One immediate and basic assumption for the case of Timor-Leste is the strategic necessity of playing in several political chessboards in order to broaden the margin of action in international relations, avoiding simultaneously hegemonic tendencies and building alliances for achieving a balanced position. This assumption seems to fit the speeches, especially by Ramos-Horta, on East Timorese foreign policy. The literature on the topic is almost non-



existent. So the following lines are the result of a perception of the facts. This article will be structured as follows: starting with a historical overview, it will present what is called “axes”, where the main actors and goals are generally described. In the next section a special attention will be given to some special ‘highlights’ – oil and gas exploration and the United Nations role – and then the bilateral relations will be analyzed.

After 1999, and during the United Nations transitory administration rule, Ramos-Horta defined the first lines of the new foreign policy of this State to-be. At that time, security and defense were the main preoccupation of UNTAET and the link with Australia and New Zealand was strengthened (Ramos-Horta, 1999). These links were materialized through military cooperation and by a strong external defense presence. Indonesia was also a vital link and the ASEAN’s membership too, but as a goal to attain in a mid-term perspective (the request for membership was made in 2006 thinking of 2012 as the reasonable date of fullmembership). Meanwhile the status of observer would be satisfactory and would give the time to prepare the application process, allowing, at the same time, avoiding some technical difficulties and the opposition of some countries, namely Burma. The bilateral dialogue with other ASEAN’s countries such as Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore would be established with a focus on the need of deepening a regional presence. Horta defined the South-Pacific Forum, USA and UE as the main partners for Timor-Leste; for expectable reasons ASEAN was not in the centre of the new strategy, although a discursive change has been made and ASEAN become a pair for SPF in the new East Timorese international relations posture. This polarization had been previously defined in the CNRT’s constitutional draft in 1998, bearing in mind the need of a balance of power. This was clearly stated in these words of the former Minister for Foreign Affairs: “Our relationship with the South Pacific islands are ‘brotherly’ based on a bond of solidarity. But, formal diplomatic ties apart, there is nothing else. Their geographic isolation puts a limit on trade. Simply put, we do not have the capability to export to countries such as Fiji or Vanuatu. Thanks to the South Pacific Forum we obviously have very close ties with Australia and New Zealand. So our relationship is geared more towards Australia, which is just next door, and the South East Asian nations. However, our country prefers to face west towards Indonesia, and north towards Malaysia, India, Singapore and the Philippines. We belong to the geographical area of South-East Asia and my hope is that in a few years’ time – maybe before 2012 – Timor-Leste will become the 11th member of ASEAN. We are already working towards this goal and all the member countries of ASEAN have already accepted the idea of Timor-Leste’s membership. Before we can enter, though, we have to improve our economy and infrastructure and create development frameworks” ( Timor-s-key -concern-prep.162.0.html).



A previous explanation is needed for the understanding of the following text. As James Rosenau pointed out, “to identify factors is not to trace their influence” (Rosenau, 1966, 98). The above items are just an outline of the East Timorese foreign policy directions. The government in functions (IV Constitutional Government) has presented a program for 2007-2012 whose VI chapter is on defense and foreign policies (Programa do IV Governo Constitucional, 2007, 75, For what concerns foreign policy the following topics have been underlined: better insertion in the region and in the world; relations with Australia, Indonesia and Portugal; ASEAN membership; participation in SPF and in ACP group; support development and reinforcing relations with China, Japan, USA, Cuba, Brazil, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, United Kingdom and the European Commission; consolidation of CPLP link and consolidation of diplomatic and consular network. It will be useful to propose architecture for East Timorese foreign policy, according to the following main axes: - Integration in the international system, through the membership of international organizations and globalization mechanisms. Timor-Leste adhered to the United Nations at September 2002, the 27th, to the Non-Aligned Movement at February 2003, the 24th. It is also a member of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, NonAligned Movement. In July 2002, the 31st entered to Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa (CPLP). Timor-Leste has also an ACP membership (the ratification of Cotonou agreement was made by the Parliament in 2005), through which €63 million has been allocated for macroeconomic support for the period 2008-2013 and €1.1 million covering unforeseen needs. Timor-Leste has also ratified a significant number of international conventions on human rights, weapons of mass destruction and landmines. - Integration into regional blocs: ASEAN and/or South Pacific Forum, where Timor-Leste has the observer status. In 2005, Timor-Leste joined the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and in 2007 signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, committing itself to non-interference in member states’ internal affairs135. - Set-up of a diplomatic network (embassies in New York, Washington, Geneva, Vatican, Lisbon, Jakarta, Canberra, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo, Havana, Maputo and Brussels) and the organization and training of an efficient but small diplomatic service. - Reinforcing bilateral relations with neighbors (including border issues) - Indonesia and Australia, also New Zealand – and with the relevant players: USA, China, Japan and Portugal (to a certain extent with Brazil, with whom a number of cooperation protocols have been established for education, justice and capacity-building, - temas-politicos-e-relacoes-bilaterais/asia-e-oceania/timor-leste-1/pdf). Some other countries have been providing aid to particular areas (Norway, Ireland, South Korea and Cuba). - Maintaining international aid and cooperation, through international organizations and through bilateral donations - Managing oil dossier and sovereign funds
135 Several doubts on Timor-Leste ASEAN’s membership: the capacity of coping with ASEAN’s attempts at integration, qualified diplomatic personnel and financial support to attend a high number of meetings, a different understanding of the ASEAN’s “non-interference” principle (Smith, 2004, 19).



East Timor-Indonesia Boundary Committee continues to meet, survey, and delimit the land boundary, but several sections of the boundary especially around the Oekussi enclave are still under discussion; Indonesia and Timor-Leste contest the sovereignty of the uninhabited coral island of Palau Batek/Fatu Sinai, which prevents delimitation of the northern maritime boundaries. Timor-Leste and Australia continue to meet but disagree over how to delimit a permanent maritime boundary and share unexploited potential petroleum resources that fall outside the Joint Petroleum Development Area covered by the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty; the dispute with Australia also hampers the creation of a southern maritime boundary with Indonesia (Munton, 2007). Oil reserves in Timor Sea are significant and led to a complex process of negotiations whose result has been the signature of the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (Sydney, 12 January 2006). The revenue derived from production will be shared equally between Australia and Timor-Leste (Munton, 2007). In October 2006, both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on security arrangements within the Joint Petroleum Development Area ( The establishment of a sovereign fund of US$5 billion for oil and gas occurred in 2005. The Petroleum Law passed unanimously by the Parliament, commits the Government to saving most of its petroleum revenues, providing the State with a leading model in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and hopefully guaranteeing a proper investment in the main economic sectors and preventing mismanagement. Oil and gas revenues have been increasing every year and that puts a strong stress in public financial management and in the Government capacity of using the resources in a reasonable way. The management of the fund is shared by Minister of Planning and Finance and the Banking and Payment Authority. By late 2006, the Timor-Leste Petroleum Fund had reached U.S. $1,011,763,807. Due to the Bayu-Undan project, which yielded an estimated 25-year field life of wet gas, profitability increased. By the end of 2007, the fund’s balance was slightly over U.S. $2 billion. The fund is currently mandated to invest only in US and other sovereign debt instruments. The objectives defined in the Petroleum Fund Law require that not less than 90& of the portfolio be invested in debt instruments and deposits denominated in US dollars (Banking and Payments Authority of Timor-Leste, main.asp).

Joining the United Nations as its 191th State, Timor-Leste is a member of several UN organs and groups like the G77. Since then the presence of UN has been a guarantee of peace and stability and also a solid tool for East Timorese foreign police because it balances the de-



pendence from the neighboring great powers, especially Australia (even being the heaviest within the ‘international forces’). Since the independence in 2002 several political facts and the crisis of 2005-2006 showed the fragility of the institutions, especially for what concerns security. The Peticionários crisis and the fact that the Army and the Police broke out led to a demand in 2006 from the East Timorese government for the United Nations assistance and the answer was a rapid deployment of international security forces, not only from UN but also from Australia, Portugal, New Zealand and Malaysia. On the 25th August, the United Nations reinforced its presence through the constitution of the United Nations Integrated Mission for TimorLeste (UNMIT). This crisis revealed a picture of symptoms of “internal” malaise which underlined the dependence of the external actors and the fear that the absence of the UN and the International Security Forces led by Australia would be chaotic. The urgent need of the security sector reform was then and now discussed as a sine qua non condition for the viability of the country. Since then the government has requested an extension of the UNMIT mandate, at least until 2012 (

1999 represented the turning point in the USA position on Timor-Leste’s dossier and played a key-role when President Clinton presented an ultimatum to Jakarta in order to constitute INTERFET. This support had been sensible in some circles of the Congress, despite Nixon’s blessing to the invasion in 1975. Political and economic relations between USA and Indonesia were overwhelmingly important, but the change of scenery in Southeast Asia, after the 1997’s crisis produced a change in the United States policy towards the question. In 1994, Bill Clinton made a statement in Jakarta, at the APEC Summit, on the need of improving a dialogue between Indonesia and the people of Timor-Leste, suggesting a limited autonomy to the territory. After 1999, when the UN took-over the territory after the August consultation, the United States developed a military cooperation much more limited than the Australian and Portuguese ones. After the independence, in 2002, it has been defended, in some sectors of the Timorese elite and even within FALINTIL the idea that Timor-Leste should follow Costa Rica’s model, without Army. However the level of violence felt discouraged that solution. The United States has a large bilateral development assistance program -$25 million in fiscal year 2008 - and also contributes funds as a major member of a number of multilateral agencies such as the Asian Development Bank and the World BankAid from the U.S. to Timor-Leste from 2000-2008 totaled $273 million (U.S. Deparment of State, http://www. The U.S. Peace Corps has operated in Timor-Leste since 2002, but it suspended operations in May 2006 due to unrest and instability.



USAID began supporting the development of effective democratic electoral and political processes in Timor-Leste in 1999. Between 2001 and 2008, USAID gave $2,215,997 to International Foundation for Electoral Systems(IFES), $3,619,134 to the International Republican Institute(IRI), and $3,728,490 to the National Democratic Institute(NDI). This money supported IFES in developing electoral framework and process, IRI in developing political parties, and NDI on increasing citizen participation and local governance (USAID, 2008, http:// ).

For the European Union as a whole and to the European Commission a presence in TimorLeste is required as a way of globally extending its soft-ruling power. For Timor-Leste, European aid and know-how are not irrelevant because of its participation in state-building tasks. Meanwhile, the newborn country has established preferential bilateral relations with some European Union countries which traditionally have a role in cooperation to development, such as the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland and even Spain. Horta has proposed the formation of a Club of Timor, joining all these countries in order to concentrate all the efforts in economic aid, humanitarian assistance and aid to development. This initiative would avoid a bigger dependence from Australia. Since September 1999, EU approved contributions to Timor Leste amount to €206.5 million for humanitarian assistance (emergency, relief and rehabilitation, food security), rural development (rural infrastructure, private sector employment), support to the health sector and capacity-building (European Commission, 2008, 22). After the 2006 crisis, the Commission adopted measures under the Rapid Reaction Mechanism to the post-crisis stabilization in the amount of €4 million. It should also be underlined that EC is also contributing bilaterally, through its memberstates. Not including Portugal in this section, Ireland and Sweden are present in the governance sector. UK (and Ireland and Sweden as well) are providing commodity assistance. Germany provides assistance to rural development and maritime transport (http://www.

Memories of the past – and some difficult issues, justice and borders – will not avoid the need of a stronger relationship between the two countries. Indonesia is indeed a priority for East Timorese foreign policy and it will be inevitable to establish a fruitful dialogue in order to put gradually aside those memories (Pereira, 2009). However, the reconciliation tone has characterized this new cycle of relations despite all the human rights violations from 1975 to 1999. In March 2006, both countries set up the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) to establish agreed-upon facts regarding the events prior to and immediately after the 1999 referendum (“to establish the conclusive truth in regard to the events



prior to and immediately after the popular consultation in 1999, with a view to promoting reconciliation and friendship, and ensuring the non-recurrence of similar events”). This initiative has been severely criticized, internally and internationally, because the terms of that Commission do not comply on with international standards on denial of impunity for serious crimes. Other issues are crucial for Timor-Leste, such as sea-lane transport, cross border trade, access to Oecussi enclave, movement of people and territorial security (Smith, 2005, 20). In July 2008, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, and President Jose Ramos-Horta met in Bali to receive the CTF’s report and to endorse its recommendations. The report acknowledged that abuses had been committed by persons on both sides of the conflict, and assigned “institutional responsibility” for human rights violations to the armed forces of Indonesia. The dilemma is on the tension between asking for accountability on the part of individual Indonesian civilian and military leaders and promoting reconciliation. This has been severely criticized by experts, media and public opinion. The first official visit of Xanana Gusmão as President was to Jakarta. This was not merely symbolic: trade with Indonesia is a vehicle of a stronger involvement into Asia and a gateway to ASEAN. Indonesia is the largest trading partner of Timor-Leste. The border issue as well as the East Timorese refugees in Indonesia was then and now to be solved. In 2005, the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited Timor-Leste, including the Santa Cruz Cemetery. After the 2004 tsunami the government of Timor-Leste contributed with humanitarian assistance to assist the victims. To reply this help, Indonesia provided humanitarian assistance to the displaced people in Dili, 2006. The first official visit abroad of the new head of State, Ramos-Horta, in May 2007, was to Jakarta. Even when the formerPresident Suharto died in 2008, Gusmão travelled to Indonesia to pay the respect of his government. All these facts are significant of the will of peaceful and prospering relations between the two countries (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia,http://www. Timor-Leste tries to be reliable not establishing a formal alliance with Australia and not supporting secessionist movements within Indonesia. Traditionally occupying the leading position at ASEAN group, Indonesia is crossing a moment of reaffirmation in international relations: member of the G20, the second country visited by Mrs. Clinton when she travelled around Eastern Asia, in February 2009. Indonesia is definitely in the centre of regional cooperation in Asia, leaving APEC for a secondary place. Several signs of a changing political reality have been noticed and those are signs of optimism regarding a true democratic system: multi-party, direct elections, decentralization and press free. Military have now a less prominent role, far away from old Suharto’s dwifungsi practice. The Islam is politically organized. But the consolidation of the system may take many years. These changes might be very positive for East Timorese foreign relations with this partner. Indonesia is, of course, a supporter of ASEAN Way style of acting. During the political crisis in 2006-2007, Indonesia behaved in a very discrete manner. In addition to this, the problem



of the hard-core militia in West Timor “poses a real, if small, risk of externally generated conflict” (European Commission, 2008, 10). There have been several incursions since 2002.

Providing security, aid and humanitarian assistance, Australia is the biggest partner for Timor-Leste in terms of economic and trade relations. Australia has sheltered a considerable number of East Timorese refugees during the Resistance period and is still home for a community of East Timorese people, the most numerous abroad. The Australia factor tends to be a geopolitical fate for Timor-Leste and the continent-island is pursuing an expected policy of attracting Timor-Leste to its own sphere of influence. The comparison with similar cases of Pacific islands under Australia’s rule is recurrent. In fact, Solomon Islands and Papua New-Guinea have some similar traits with Timor-Leste, and the whole area has been considered by Australian conservative government as “the arc of instability”, whose peacefulness should be assured by Australia, even if military interference was needed (Cotton, 2004). In the site of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade it is written that “Australia has been in the front-line of support for Timor-Leste’s transition to independence” ( This word transition is capital, since it was the “Australian people” (and certain political forces) who had a “special affinity with East Timor stretching”. The military forces presence has been a constant since 1999; in 2006, Australia landed troops to contain the Peticionários crisis, leading the International Stabilization Force (having as partners New Zealand and Malaysia) and this ISF remains in support of UNMIT. In early 2009, Australian Minister of Defense, Joel Fitzgibbon said the troops will remain stationed for as long as necessary (Corinne Pedger, Radio Australia) and after the attempted murder against the President and the Prime-Minister in February 2008, additional forces were sent. According to OECD, between 1999 and June 2007, Australia provided over USD$695.45 million in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Timor-Leste and, after lifting its aid significantly in 2006-2007 to meet the needs of the security and humanitarian crisis, invested a further USD$72.8 million in 2007-2008. ODA for 2008-2009 has been USD$96.3 million (AusAid). These numbers make Australia the largest contributor to Timor-Leste development, followed by Portugal ( t&task=view&id=91&Itemid=122). Australia has been occupying other development areas, such as a joint education, training and employment initiative with a focus on needs in Timor-Leste’s public sector (2008). Institutional-building and assistance to the formation of security forces is also of the main investments of the overwhelmingly presence of Australian aid in the country.



5.5. CHINA
For Timor-Leste, becoming China’s partner is obviously a way of counter-balancing or reducing its dependency relative to Australia and Indonesia. The proximity and the ascendant of Australia is certainly a constraint to a deeper relationship between Timor-Leste, but not an obstacle. Some measures have been taken and closer links in cooperation and business are becoming fruitful. The deepening of this partnership has been translated by a Chinese diplomat as Beijing’s “helping hand”, which is softly entering the country and will likely obtain various benefits if the usual type of approach is followed. Until now, the priorities areas have been agriculture, education, health, infrastructure construction and – the cherry on the top of the cake – oil exploration and even security aid. This is the usual formula in China’s foreign abordage. The Beijing’s consensus and before the pacific coexistence principle of non-interference in internal political affairs leaves the door open to solidifying Chinese economic interests. However, the instability of Timorese political institutions is a worrisome matter; China, in its low-key style is committed to state-building. Beijing can be a comfortable partner, operating a value-free foreign policy driven only by self-interest, with no value system to sell and no messianic mission to fulfill. In addition to this, China is trying to act as a responsible “global stakeholder”. This posture – leaving the more difficult tasks of state-building for Australia and, at a different level, Portugal – permits an increasingly assertive position in the area without putting at risk its relationship with Australia (Mendes, 2009b, 10, Horta, 2009, 18). One of the main dimensions of the Chinese approach to Timor-Leste is the Lusofonia channel. As a member of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), Timor-Leste is included in a group of states with whom PRC has established links reflecting deep economic interests. However, the values are slightly contrasting between the countries. The Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries, created in Macau in 2003, has been focused on Africa, especially Angola (as well as Brazil). The main vehicles for Chinese action have been trade and aid, including technical assistance, diplomatic training, job creation and providing services ( eng/wjb/zzjg/yzs/gjlb/2706/). These two pillars of improving a “South to South” cooperative dialogue also materialized through investment in energy, infrastructures, health and defense. For Timor-Leste, aid is more important than trade. Since 2000, china has given an average annual value of USD$5.349 million. A number of agreements for technical and economic cooperation, namely in agriculture (introducing hybrid rice), have been signed. In the health sector there is a team of doctors working on the ground. In 2005, bilateral trade was limited to a mere USD$1.27 million, all originating from the selling of Chinese products to the East Timorese market. Meanwhile, according to the statistics of East Timorese embassy in Beijing, between January and July 2006 trade has grown impressively, attaining USD$13.37 million, more than a ten-fold increase (Lusa, 6 December 2006). Coffee is the only Timor-Leste commodity exported to China, but timber and flowers are potentially interesting. Timor-Leste is also trying to explore other areas, especially those with grown potential in China, such as ecological tourism.



Timor-Leste is now a place of confluence – and potential tension – for Chinese and Australian interests. One could see this relation as a mixture of a new type of Cold War with the exercise of soft power.

The post-colonial link remains a mystery, a paradox or even an anachronism for a lot of observers. For Anthony L. Smith, for example, “ties of empire and sentiment play a role for East Timor” (Smith, 2005, 27). Even within some Portuguese circles, some people criticize the Portuguese involvement in such a remote country and explain it as a manifestation of “guilty feelings” or “bad conscience” bearing in mind that the decolonization process was misconduct. Nevertheless, Portugal maintained the topic in its diplomatic agenda and in the end of the 90’s was committed to an increased international visibility through the participation in the United Nations peace missions. Portuguese foreign policy decisionmakers took the Timor-Leste issue has a way of promoting Portuguese middle range power country in the world, through the participation in the state-building tasks, affecting a huge amount of money in cooperating with East Timorese and the United Nations. One of the more relevant dimensions of this collaboration was the organization of Armed Forces and Police. That means that Portuguese soft power in Timor-Leste integrated the contribution of military and paramilitary forces. For almost a decade, Timor-Leste governments considered the importance of Portugal to the economic and infrastructural development and several agreements of assistance and cooperation have been signed. Portugal has been occupying a prominent role as aid net contributor: in 2003-2004, Portugal, donating USD$34 million, was the biggest donor, followed by Australia, contributing USD$32 million, the US, with USD$25 million and the European Union, with USD$14 million (Mendes, 2009a, 7). Portugal has been one of TimorLeste’s main development partners. Between 1999 and 2007 it provided Timor with aid totaling USD$655,21 million. In September 2007, the governments of Portugal and TimorLeste signed the “Indicative Cooperation Program” (PIC) for the next four years, estimated at a total of €60 million ( ask=view&id=91&Itemid=122). Portugal has also invested in education sector and in the governance and the justice sector. The Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in its official Web page the Portuguese policy towards Timor-Leste: “For what concerns Timor-Leste, Portugal has expressively contributed to promote and consolidate sustainable development of Timor-Leste and its integration and interaction with international community – especially with the United Nations and European Union – and namely through the consistent support to the East Timorese democratic institutions” (



Foreign policy is one of the main bases for sovereignty. Timor-Leste needs to play in several scenarios, multilaterally and bilaterally. However, this still is not sustainable. The country is not able to do it accurately but seems determined in playing a role in global affairs. Bearing in mind the dependency of the outside assistance to guarantee order and stability, the need of managing cordial relations with Indonesia and Australia has to be coordinated with a strategy of multilateral involvement. Australian military presence and assistance can be problematic from the Indonesian point of view and that is why Timor-Leste has avoided a formal defense relationship with Australia and asked continuously for the maintenance of the United Nations. This seems to avoid the image of a bilateral ‘protectorate’, even if the incapacity of Timor-Leste assuring its main sovereign competences suggests the idea of a multilateral ‘neo-tutelage’. The political deciders must find mechanisms of balancing outside the region – e.g., the belonging to CPLP – and to pay attention to the evolution of the political cycles, national interests and foreign policies of the neighbors. Indonesia is still in a re-configuration process and Australia is approaching to Eastern Asia. Timor-Leste should adopt a hedging strategy (Tomé, 2008, p. 72): reinforcing its independence vis-à-vis the neighbors but, at the same time, being dependent of Australia for guaranteeing its security and wishing to integrate a regional group led by Indonesia. The United Nations and Portugal, even CPLP, are the counterweight to this geopolitical fate. It will not be easy to maintain a cautious, balanced and creative foreign policy in the circumstances described. But the world is a dangerous place to live. Small and fragile States do have to build a determined but flexible foreign policy. For Timor-Leste the internal and external constraints – as showed above – are heavy and exigent of a good perception of international relations from the political elite, whose freedom of choice is limited. The challenge is the management of a realist decision-making in which a strategy to achieve a set of defined goals is vital. In a flexible but determined attitude.



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- Seixas, P. C. [2004]. Umane Mane Foun- O Regresso dos Rituais (60 min./DVD – Mini-Dv, Tétum, Tocodede, Bahasa indonésio, subtitled) - Seixas, P. C. [2009]. Sorot Malae. Os irmãos, a viagem e o livro (120 minutos/DVD – MiniDV – Version in English).



This book presents the output and subsequent discussion of the research project “translating culture, cultures as translation: negotiation as core heritage in Timor-Leste” that was funded by the Portuguese National Foundation for Science and Technology and brought together six researchers from four di erent countries (Portugal, Brazil, The Netherlands and Timor-Leste). The research conducted by the team was an interdisciplinary attempt to bridge research paths as they were triggered and elaborated by the individual team members. It ran along the constructs of ‘cultural translation’ and ‘culture as translation’. East-Timor/Timor-Leste, in the Asia-Pacific region, is, certainly, a very relevant case in what relates to Culture as Translation. Timor-Leste is a very relevant case in that the translation processes can be analyzed as cross-cutting device for a huge amount of diverse spatial and temporal layers (chronotopes) that even provides the frame to support the national culture that is under construction. Cultural translation processes, as negotiation strategies amongst di erences, are in the core of Timor-Leste’s societies, whether in an ethno-linguistic, social or symbolic sense. In sum, the idea of ‘chronotope’ and ‘heteroglossia’ framing ‘topological creativity’ in the worlds of translation and the ‘task of the translator’ appear to be the basis with which to understand Timorese cultural processes that define the nation and/or the island.