When the food pyramid is reversed: the sacred crocodile in Timor Leste. Ethnographic notes on a problem of maritime security
Enrique Alonso (University of Salamanca)
Paper short abstract:
This paper addresses a question of applied anthropology: the deaths at sea caused by the saltwater crocodiles in Timor Leste. Crocodiles are sacred animals that, following the local cosmology, embody the ancestors.
Paper long abstract:
This paper addresses a question of applied anthropology: the deaths at sea caused by the saltwater crocodiles in Timor Leste. Crocodiles are sacred animals that, following the local cosmology, embody the ancestors. Although there is not a formal record of accidents at sea, several times a year, news about deaths of fishers caused by the attacks of saltwater crocodiles are reported in the local level, reaching all those involved in the fishing sector around the country. Meanwhile several international agents face the challenge of the "reduction of the vulnerability" of the local fishing communities, in the case of safety at sea, a deeper issue of cultural mediation and interpretation arises. In light of the questioning that part of the anthropology has made to our own ontological schemes and through the empirical evidence provided by the study of different societies like the Achuar in the Amazon or others in northern Canada, this poster analyzes the human/nature relations in Timor Leste. Social representations, discourses and practices around the salt water crocodiles are described to discuss the patterns of local causality and the ontological spheres among the fishers of the Southeast Asian island. In light of this, the eurocentric based practices of problematization are adressed and the potential solutions delineated.