Lulik Encounters and Cultural Frictions in East Timor: Past and present

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In the East Timorese lingua franca, Tetun, the word lulik is often simply translated as 'sacred' or 'forbidden'.But the concept has much wider application as a set of fundamental, philosophical and moral orientations in Timorese social life. In this paper we present six historical and contemporary encounters with lulik, by a range of outsiders from beyond the Timorese tradition. Placed in the context of Sahlin's notion of 'the structure of the conjuncture', they illustrate the way lulik agency adapts to novel or contingent events in culturally inflected ways, and how ideas of lulik may be configured as agents of resistance as well as enabling strategies.
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