Current Institutional Affiliation
Director, Human Needs and Global Resources, Wheaton College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2002
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Environmental Studies, Yale University
Custom, Codification, Collaboration: Integrating the Legacies of Land and Forest Authorities in Oecusse Enclave, East Timor

The new nation of East Tim or is developing a political and legal structure amidst the existing legacies of customary, Portuguese, and Indonesian property systems for land and natural resources. My previous fieldwork in eastern Indonesia indicates that aspirations for political autonomy are often closely linked to an anticipated recognition of customary land claims. Preliminary research in East Timor suggests that customary land and resource claims persist de facto in most regions outside the capital, and that traditional property systems have survived a century of legal dispossession and decades of widespread internal displacement. Traditional property systems are an enduring yet dynamic institution that is integral to modem Timorese society and legal development. This research explores the persistence of customary tenure amidst efforts to individualize communal property holdings and to formalize recognition of customary lands. My primary collaboration is with the University of Timor Lorosa'e, with field assistance from legal and environmental non-governmental organizations.