Dili, May 17th, 2024 – President José Ramos-Horta, the Nobel Peace Laureate, hosted a groundbreaking roundtable discussion at the Nicolau Lobato Presidential Palace today, exploring the rich oral traditions, cultural heritage, and literary landscapes of Timor-Leste.


The Preserving Our Intangible Heritage event brought together academics, researchers, cultural experts and community leaders in a multidisciplinary dialogue aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the nation’s diverse cultural tapestry.

Safeguarding Timor-Leste’s Intangible Heritage
In his opening address, President Ramos-Horta, a renowned advocate for cultural preservation, underscored the vital importance of safeguarding Timor-Leste’s intangible cultural heritage. He emphasized promoting mutual understanding and appreciation among the nation’s diverse communities.

Anthropologist’s Insights on Makassae Community
A keynote lecture by the eminent anthropologist Dr. Shepard Forman, titled “An Auto-ethnography: an anthropologist among the Makassae people,” provided invaluable insights. Dr. Forman’s extensive fieldwork offered a window into the lived experiences and rich oral histories of the Makassae community.

Captivating Myths and Oral Traditions
PhD student Natércia do Rosário enthralled the audience with the “Noy de Mel” Myth, a captivating oral tradition from the Makassae community, illustrating the depth of Timor-Leste’s cultural richness.

Broad Range of Topics Explored
The roundtable featured a series of insightful presentations and discussions covering a broad range of topics, including:

  • Cultural Aspects of the People of Samoro: Tebedai Letodak
  • “Dadolin” popular literature of the Tetum Terik community’s oral tradition
  • Oral Literature and Culture in Timor-Leste
  • General Description of the Makassae Language
  • Oral History and Field Research Methodologies

Academic and Cultural Collaboration
In collaboration with the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), the roundtable brought together a diverse array of stakeholders, fostering vital cross-disciplinary dialogue on preserving and promoting Timor-Leste’s priceless intangible cultural heritage.

Raising Awareness and Guiding Policy
As has been a key focus for President Ramos-Horta, the event also served as an opportunity to raise awareness at both the institutional and public levels about the importance of academic studies and research in these areas. This can help inform and guide the development of more effective and comprehensive social policies related to cultural preservation.

The roundtable represented a significant step towards strengthening collaboration between academic institutions, government authorities, and civil society in the shared mission of safeguarding and celebrating the vibrant cultural tapestry that defines the Timorese identity.

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