[TimorLesteStudies] Monash Seminar: Customary renewal in East Timor 9 Nov 1pm Menzies Clayton Campus

Michael Leach mleach at swin.edu.au
Tue Nov 1 13:11:28 AEDT 2016

From: <sara.niner at monash.edu>
Sent: Monday, 31 October 2016 12:03 PM

Dear friends and colleagues,
We are excited that Susanna Barnes will share with us her recent research on East Timorese society. Having recently submitted her dissertation, based on lengthy fieldwork in East Timor, Susanna is well-positioned to update us on the difficult nexus between culture and the aspiration for better futures.

Please note that parking at Monash Clayton is difficult at this point due to building activities. If you are considering driving to the seminar, please consult this webpage for updates about parking at Monash: http://www.monash.edu/people/transport-parking/parking-at-clayton

Looking forward as always,

Julian Millie (CSEAS Convenor)

Customary renewal in post-occupation East Timor and the construction of the future as a 'cultural fact'

Susana Barnes, Anthropology, Monash University

When? November 9, 2016, 1.00-2.30 p.m.

Where? N402, fourth floor Menzies Building, Monash Clayton Campus

One of the striking features of independence era East Timor has been the widespread revitalisation and recalibration of customary beliefs and practices. What is to be made of this process? What, if anything, can it tell us about people's aspirations and desires for the future? In this paper, I take up the call for a better anthropological understanding of the construction of the future as a 'cultural fact' and the implications of this for people's 'capacity to aspire' - their ability to mobilise resources in order to make strategic decisions about their future. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Babulo suku, Uato Lari sub-district I suggest that acts of customary renewal represent a cultural response to the uncertainties and opportunities created by independence. This 'cultural' response is not motivated by a desire to re-create the past in the present but rather it represents an attempt to draw on the past in order to negotiate the future. The renewal of customary beliefs and practices reveals a continued commitment to a shared cultural framework and shared vision for what constitutes a 'good life'. However, acts of customary renewal are also sites of friction where status and political influence is affirmed and contested, and consensus is negotiated through rhetoric and performance.


Susana Barnes is a PhD candidate at Monash University and recently submitted her PhD thesis entitled 'Customary renewal and the pursuit of power and prosperity in post-occupation East Timor: a case study from Babulo, Uato-Lari'. Her research interests are East Timor ethnography, comparative Austronesian studies, customary land and natural resource governance, ritual and religion, and customary health and healing practices.


Dr Julian Millie

Senior Lecturer and ARC Future Fellow

Anthropology program

School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Julian.Millie at monash.edu<mailto:Julian.Millie at monash.edu>

Tel: 61 39905 2996


Dr. Sara Niner Lecturer & Researcher
Monash University | School of Social Sciences | Anthropology
Phone: AU +61 3 99024139 | Email: sara.niner at monash.edu<mailto:sara.niner at monash.edu>
Location: Menzies Building 20 Ch, 4th Floor, East Wing, Room E470 Clayton Campus
Web: http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/sara-niner/

Out in 2016: Women and the politics of gender in Post-Conflict Timor-Leste, Women in Asia Series, Routledge. More info here<https://www.routledge.com/Women-and-the-Politics-of-Gender-in-Post-Conflict-Timor-Leste-Between/Niner/p/book/9781138999121>

Monash University's Australian campuses are proudly on Kulin land. Monash University acknowledges and pays respects to the Kulin people, including elders past and present.

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