[TimorLesteStudies] ANU MAAPD Seminar: Brideprice - barlake - in East Timor: mitigating the negative, emphasising the positive

Bu Wilson bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Tue May 18 18:47:51 EST 2010

Special MAAPD (Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development)  Student  Seminar: Thursday 20 May 12:30-1:15 (Coombs Seminar Room  B, ANU)

Title:  Brideprice -  barlake - in East Timor:  mitigating the negative, emphasising the  positive
Presenter:  Ms Kate  Olivieri

Bridewealth   practices, and their links to discriminatory and harmful practices  against  women, have long been a topic of anthropological literature. In  East Timor,  however, due to occupation by the Portuguese (from  approximately the  16th century to 1974) and the Indonesians  (from 1974 to 1999),  East Timor’s  significant cultural practice of barlake,  commonly glossed as brideprice,  has not been analysed to the same  degree as many other nations in the region.  This paper analyses the  benefits and challenges that the practice of barlake presents  in East Timor today, by  examining current practices and effects of barlake  in East Timor, and current  Timorese attitudes towards barlake,  through a framework of feminist  analyses of bridewealth practices.  Semi-structured interviews undertaken with  Timorese representing a  range of locales (matrilineal, patrilineal, rural,  urban), wealth, age  and sex revealed a number of unexpected attitudes. These  included ways  forward to not only mitigate negative effects of barlake, but  emphasise positive effects. A  key example was that since barlake is  considered a very important part of Timorese identity, even by   Timorese who understand and condemn its negative effects like violence  against  women, the practice is evolving and being changed by Timorese  people today in  order to keep the desirable effects, such as family  unity, and address the  negative effects.

Kate  Olivieri is a  passionate promoter of discourse on gender issues in a  number of arenas. While  completing MAAPD with a Gender and Development  specialisation, she has worked in  gender and development in AusAID’s  Papua New Guinea and Cambodia desks in  Canberra; as a Gender Research  Adviser (through Australian Volunteers  International) in the Timorese  Government’s State Secretariat for the Promotion  of Gender Equality;  and in the Australian Government Office for Women, where she  is  currently in the Policy and Research Section. Her particular academic   interests are gender and culture and practical policy and program  responses,  which is why she has chosen to end her MAAPD with a special  project on  brideprice practices in East  Timor.

Bu V.E. Wilson
Regulatory Institutions Network  RegNet  | The Australian National University | Canberra ACT 0200 | AUSTRALIA | Mob: +61  0 407 087 086

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