[TimorLesteStudies] New Article on Oecusse - Meitzner Yoder

Simon P J Batterbury simonpjb at unimelb.edu.au
Thu Mar 24 07:51:54 EST 2011

Laura Meitzner Yoder.2011. Political ecologies of wood and wax:
sandalwood and beeswax as symbols and shapers of customary authority in
the Oecusse enclave, Timor.  Journal of Political Ecology  V18: Pp 11-24

Online - http://jpe.library.arizona.edu/volume_18/Yoder.pdf

Volume 18 http://jpe.library.arizona.edu/Volume18/Volume_18.html

The enclave of Oecusse-Ambeno, Timor Leste, was formed in part through
struggles over controlling trade in sandalwood and beeswax, two forest
products that continue to influence political and ritual allegiances,
and the political history of Oecusse. These products are interwoven with
the region's contacts with outsiders, influencing local political
hierarchies and roles of kings, village heads, and ritual authorities.
While wood and wax are recognized to be of Timorese origin, local myths
posit that their use and value was unrecognized before the arrival of
Chinese traders and Portuguese missionaries. Several narratives of the
origins of trade in sandalwood, and the kings' annual beeswax candle
tributes, illustrate the enduring connections among local authorities,
forest resource control, religious symbolism, and ritual obligations
surrounding harvests of sandalwood and beeswax. Customary practices
contribute to forest conservation through local protection of
beeswax-producing forests, and by circumscribing the harvest. While both
beehives and sandalwood impede intensive agricultural land uses, farmers
welcome beeswax as a profitable product that supports ritual. But they
resent sandalwood's growth in their fields since it involves more
regulation and increased labor requirements. The two products' different
ecologies of disturbance and incidence contributed over time to distinct
ownership norms and forms of control by customary authorities. This is
the "political ecology of wood and wax" in Oecusse.

Key words: Oecusse, Timor Leste/East Timor, sandalwood, beeswax,
customary authority, colonialism.

If anybody want to add abstracts in other languages I can add them to
the pdf!.

Dr. Simon Batterbury, Associate Professor, (on research leave)
 Dept. of Resource Management and Geography, 
University of Melbourne, 3010 VIC, Australia 

 Director, Office for Environmental Programs (on leave)

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