The place of ceremonial observances in sustainable livelihoods of crop producers in Timor-Leste

Martin Browne, Luisa Goncalo, Anita Ximenes, Modesto Lopes, William Erskine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Ceremonial practices widely associated with ancient animist belief systems but also pertinent to more recently introduced Christian practices persist across Timor-Leste. Ceremonies based on family lineage groups—
lisan—are conducted for numerous purposes, with many related to food production/consumption. While significant resources, including time, are expended to conduct such ceremonies, the act of participation can also lead to improved social cohesion. This in turn can lead to more effective collaboration in
cultivation tasks where the household unit of labour is not efficient. Outside of more efficient crop production strategies, the social capital generated through participation in ceremonies can lead to greater levels of reciprocity when poor harvests produce a food or seed deficit, thereby enabling communities to negotiate risks. This may be at odds with some views in development that such practices act as a brake on progress. In this context, innovation in cropping was not found to be stifled by rituals. Farmers in Timor-Leste strive to attain a balance where they are capable of maintaining their cultural assets and the benefits attributed to these without this being at the expense of other priorities such as allocating sufficient resources to their ‘productive’ activities and their families’ health and education. The sustainable livelihoods framework is used to investigate how the endeavour of crop production negotiated through ceremonial observances could fit within a sustainable livelihoods approach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood security in Timor-Leste through crop production
EditorsN. Nesbitt, William Erskine, C.J. da Cruz, A. Moorhead
PublisherThe Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
ISBN (Print)978 1 925436 49 5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
EventProceedings of TimorAg2016: an international conference held in Dili, Timor-Leste - Dili, Timor-Leste
Duration: 13 Apr 201615 Apr 2016


ConferenceProceedings of TimorAg2016


Dive into the research topics of 'The place of ceremonial observances in sustainable livelihoods of crop producers in Timor-Leste'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this