The Dead as Ancestors, Martyrs, and Heroes in Timor-Leste
The Dead as Ancestors, Martyrs, and Heroes in Timor-Leste
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Preface. (Elizabeth Traube)
Introduction: Martyrs, Ancestors and Heroes: The Multiple Lives of Dead Bodies in Independent Timor-Leste. (Lia Kent and Rui Graca Feijo)
PART I: Ancestors, Martyrs and Heroes
Chapter 1. Ancestors and Martyrs in Timor-Leste. (Susana de Matos Viegas)
Chapter 2. Remembering the Martyrs of National Liberation in Timor-Leste. (Michael Leach)
PART II: The Dead in Everyday Life
Chapter 3. Spirits Live Among Us: Mythology, the Hero's Journey and the Supernatural World in a Community in Atauro. (Alessandro Boarccaech)
Chapter 4. 'Sempre la'o ho ita': Ancestral Omnipotence and the Protection of the Living in Timor-Leste. (Bronwyn Winch)
Chapter 5. Unfulfilled Peace: Death and the Limits of Liberalism in Timor-Leste. (Damian Grenfell)
Chapter 6. The Politics of Loss and Restoration: Massive Bad Death in the Oecussi Highlands. (Victoria K. Sakti)
Chapter 7. Death Across the Border and the Prospects of Improved People to People Relationships. (Andrey Damaledo)
Chapter 8. Working for the Living and the Dead: Challenges Associated with Personal Identification from Skeletal Remains in Timor-Leste. (Soren Blau)
PART III: The Dead and the Nation-State
Chapter 9. Remembering the Dead in Post-Independence Timor-Leste: Victims or Martyrs? (Amy Rothschild)
Chapter 10. Gender, Agency and the (In)Visibility of the Dead and the Wounded. (Henri Myrttinen)
Chapter 11. On the Politics of Memory: Cult of Martyrs, Contested Memories and Social Status. (Rui Graca Feijo)
Chapter 12. Gathering the Dead, Imagining the State? Examining the Work of Commissions for the Recovery of Human Remains. (Lia Kent)
Chapter 13. Selling Names: The 'Material Dimension' of State Recognition of Martyrs in Timor-Leste. (Kate Roll)

Reviews and Features

"It is hard to find flaws in this collection. Admirably meeting the attributes of 'thick ethnography' as set down by Traube in her preface, not only does this work advance our understanding of Timor-Leste’s travails today, but deservedly takes its place in the broader anthropological literature around 'ancestorship,' martyrdom, and 'bad death.'"
- Geoffrey C. Gunn, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 95, No. 2

Lia Kent, Rui Feijo (eds)

The Dead as Ancestors, Martyrs, and Heroes in Timor-Leste

During the 24-year Indonesian occupation of East Timor, thousands of people died, or were killed, in circumstances that did not allow the required death rituals to be performed. Since the nation’s independence, families and communities have invested considerable time, effort and resources in fulfilling their obligations to the dead. These obligations are imbued with urgency because the dead are ascribed agency and can play a benevolent or malevolent role in the lives of the living. These grassroots initiatives run, sometimes critically, in parallel with official programs that seek to transform particular dead bodies into public symbols of heroism, sacrifice and nationhood. The Dead as Ancestors, Martyrs, and Heroes in Timor-Leste focuses on the dynamic interplay between the potent presence of the dead in everyday life and their symbolic usefulness to the state. It underlines how the dead shape relationships amongst families, communities and the nation-state, and open an important window into — are in fact pivotal to — processes of state and nation formation.

Lia Kent

Lia Kent is a Visiting Fellow in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University.

Rui Feijo

Rui Graça Feijó is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, and Associate Researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History, NOVA University of Lisbon.