The politics of ritual. Traditional authorities and social discourses in the nahe biti ritual in Faulara (Liquiçá district), Timor-Leste

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This paper describes a particular stage of the ritual cycle related with the production of rice, called nahe biti, and the actors who take part on it in the hamlet of Faulara (District of Liquiçá –Timor Leste). Local narratives and discourses related with the nahe biti and the position of the ritual leader, the rai na´in kaer bua malus are also described. The paper analyzes the different social positions with respect to the power sourced by the access to the ritual practice and shows how rather than a mechanical obedience to a set of static principles, the ritual brings along a constant negotiation between the different actors, who struggle to impose their views of the different narratives that provide legitimacy to the ritual power, discursively shaping a more favorable scenario for themselves. These discourses and strategies have to be understood as immersed not only in the occurrences of the local community but also as part of the wider political economy and the current changes Timor Leste is living.
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