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description Journal article public Diálogos Journal

Narratives of Atauro: what oral tradition tells us about the history of an island

Dominique Guillaud
Published September 2021

Abstract

The territory of the island of Atauro, in Timor Leste, has been in the past the subject of internal conflicts between the three dialectal groups that compose the population, revealing the difficult life conditions on an island with limited water resources. The narratives about places given by the inhabitants allow us to understand the representations of the island space and to formulate some hypotheses on its settlement. The article explores the mythology of the birth of the island, the creative opposition of the elder and younger brothers, and the mentions of other populations that were annihilated or conquered, all of which are embodied in the landscape that supports the stories. These stories reveal the alternation of insular unity and singularity, the fickleness of ancient alliances and the centrality that the inhabitants give to their island, a microcosm of the world.

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