Aquatic identities, fluid economies: Water affinities and authenticating narratives of belonging in East Timorese myth and ritual

Jennaway, Megan (2008) Aquatic identities, fluid economies: Water affinities and authenticating narratives of belonging in East Timorese myth and ritual. Oceania, 78 1: 17-29.

Author Jennaway, Megan
Title Aquatic identities, fluid economies: Water affinities and authenticating narratives of belonging in East Timorese myth and ritual
Journal name Oceania   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0029-8077
1834-4461
Publication date 2008-03
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Volume 78
Issue 1
Start page 17
End page 29
Total pages 13
Place of publication Sydney, N.S.W., Australia
Publisher Oceania Publications
Language eng
Abstract Customary land tenure claims provide a useful analogy for customary access and usage rights to critical water resources. In an increasingly water-constrained future, such rights are at risk of political and economic contestation and local communities may find themselves abruptly divested of critical water resources just when they need them most. The new nation of East Timor is not abundantly endowed with water and inland sources are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of reduced rainfall and groundwater contamination. Recently McWilliam (2003) has suggested that in future disputes over Timorese sea tenures, the recognition of customary access or exclusive property rights to specific water resources will depend upon clearly articulated evidence of longstanding cultural associations and interactions with the aquatic landscape. The ethnographic literature provides substantiating accounts of the centrality of water in the local cosmologies of various East Timorese ethnic groups. This paper extends McWilliam's marine argument to inland water resources by reviewing the salient ethnographic evidence for Bunaq, Mumbai and Eastern Tetum populations to show that water is a key organising metaphor in the expression of Timorese kingroup affiliation, social identity and power relations. Local ritual practices further affirm customary rights of access and water use. There is an urgent need for such customary rights to water to be recognized in the current redistribution and demarcation of internal boundaries in East Timor, as well as in future struggles against vested economic and political interests.
Keyword Water
Aquatic
Identity
Tenure
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: School of Public Health Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 03 Sep 2009, 10:00:25 EST by Mr Andrew Martlew on behalf of School of Public Health