Spirit ecologies and customary governance in post-conflict timor-leste

Lisa Palmer, Andrew McWilliam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In post-conflict Timor-Leste, the concepts of spirit ecologies and intergenerational wellbeing direct our attention to the ways in which Timorese people derive strength from house-based family networks as well as protective and productive spiritual relations with living nature. These practices of exchange resonate with a comparative body of research that has described similar 'spiritscapes' elsewhere in Southeast Asia and their relevance for social and environmental governance. Exploring the diverse ontologies of particular Timorese 'spirit ecologies' and their embedding in a concept of more-than-human 'intergenerational wellbeing', in this article we investigate the renewed significance of these 'house-based' practices for social and environmental governance in Timor-Leste. We argue that despite the challenges, multiple engagements of mutually appropriated, transgenerational debt obligations and ritually regulated forms of resource governance are emerging as cultural, and increasingly state-sanctioned, strategies aimed at rebuilding the social and environmental commons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-505
Number of pages32
JournalBijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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