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Accepted Paper:

Segmentation as historicity  
Susana Viegas (Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the living experience among the Fataluku (Timor-Leste) of both secrecy and being part of clan-segments. Through this lens I discuss how a segmented world (a classical category in anthropological debate) looks like when we render its meaning through an analysis of historicity

Paper long abstract:

Among the Fataluku (Timor-Leste), keeping continuous and open communication with their patrilineal ancestors, through successive processes of revelation and concealment, is central to their ways of being in the world. This paper is centred on a case study of a particular event that took place next to a tomb destined to beg the ancestors for good fortune in a business venture involving the acquisition of a mini-bus (mikrolet). This ceremonial demand implies the intermediation of a specific segment of the interested manĀ“s kin network and the exclusion of others. I show how these segmented webs of kin constitute ways of people understanding themselves and their environing world.

The anthropological literature on this region has shown the role of secrecy in its relation with hierarchy and kinship dynamics, as well as with religion. In this paper I propose to discuss what it means to live the environmental world one inhabits as a segmented one. I underline how tactics and strategies are used by my interlocutors to gain access to the goodwill of their ancestors. Also, I stress how these serve the purpose of connecting their contemporary condition with their past experience in the long period when Timor-Leste was occupied by the Indonesian regime (1976-1999). I will consider what segmentation (a classical theme in anthropological debate) looks like when we render its meaning through the lens of the Fataluku condition of being in the world.

Panel P024
History as lived reality and the future of anthropology
  Session 1