Elements of endangered forms of Fataluku cultural expression

Every nation has a culture that underpins the way of life. According to the traditions of Lautem, our culture enables us to have strong unity and friendship.
If we lose our culture, we lose our identity.
All the information we have collected in this project informs us about the original culture of our ancestors.

Sr Justino Valentim, Senior Researcher, 1954-2014 

The Fataluku people of far eastern Timor-Leste maintain diverse and fascinating forms of cultural expression. An MHI research project, Documenting Endangered Forms of Cultural Expression of the Fataluku people, recorded 30 different cultural heritage elements – many practiced in different forms – in the Lautem district between 2012 and 2013. The project sought to help re-invigorate critically endangered forms of cultural expression by recording those cultural forms; building local capacity to preserve cultural heritage; and providing Fataluku people with an opportunities to view and learn more about their cultural heritage.

Background information: Fataluku people and culture 
Research method

Elements documented: The elements of Fataluku endangered cultural heritage documented were:
music   craft   tools   medicine  architecture   folklore   oral literature and song   ritual.

Detailed findings of elements 

Map: Location of elements by suku, aldeia and GPS co-ordinates

Project reports:  Reports from the project including conference papers and presentations 

Continuing work: The material from this project is now being compiled into an online collection using the web-publishing platform- OMEKA. It is intended that the use of OMEKA will improve the quality and accessibility of the displayed material to Fataluku communities in Timor-Leste and their diaspora.  An ongoing process of improving the breadth and quality of the information available here is being undertaken, with future versions of the site will include information in Tetun and Indonesian as funding opportunities allow.​

In January, as part of publishing the material through OMEKA, the MHI team and local SETAC government staff participated in an introductory training session on how to use the platform. MHI intends to provide further training opportunities for staff and partners, to develop their technical skills that will support ongoing cultural preservation efforts within their community. A University of Melbourne Engagement Grant has allowed MHI to carry out this part of the project and we are grateful to the experts there who have supported us in furthering our skills and knowledge in database management, archiving and cultural heritage.

 MHI welcomes researchers and interested people to use the data in work that contributes to increasing knowledge of Fataluku cultural expression. We request that MHI be acknowledged when any material from this site is used. Comments, suggestions or corrections are also welcome, please email: kim.dunphy@manyhands.org.au.

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