[TimorLesteStudies] Seminar: Customary renewal in post-occupation East Timor

Susana Barnes sbarnesmailinglist at gmail.com
Thu Nov 3 09:58:59 AEDT 2016

-------- Forwarded Message --------

Subject: 	Customary renewal in post-occupation East Timor
Date: 	Mon, 31 Oct 2016 11:28:28 +1100
From: 	Centre-Of Southeast-Asian-Studies <arts-cseas-seminars at monash.edu>
To: 	Julian Millie <julian.millie at monash.edu>

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 

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'

Susanna 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.


Susanna 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

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