Martyrs, Ancestors and Heroes: The Multiple lives of Dead Bodies in Timor-Leste

Lia Kent, Rui Graca Feijo

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This introductory chapter considers the diverse ways in which dead influence the living in the new nation-state of Timor-Leste. We argue that experiences of acute suffering, loss, dislocation, and protracted struggle are intensified by the spiritual dangers posed by the vast numbers of missing or unburied bodies and disrupted mortuary rituals. We consider how deceased beings perceived as ‘ancestors’ are thought to hold the capacity to influence the lives of the living. We also examine how the dead – especially those designated heroes or martyrs – are manipulated by the living to achieve certain aims. We argue that, because the dead continue to profoundly shape relationships amongst families, communities, and the nation-state, they must be understood as pivotal to ongoing processes of nation and state formation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Dead as Ancestors, Martyrs and Heroes in Timor-Leste, and Heroes in Timor-Leste
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam
    PublisherAmsterdam University Press
    ISBN (Print)9789463724319
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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