This ARC discovery project is exploring the relationship between legal regulation and customary land tenures in the new Republic of Timor Leste (East Timor). The continuing absence of any formal legal framework for land administration across the country creates uncertainty and constrains investment. It also permits a diverse range of customary land tenures to flourish and provide a de-facto system of locally authorized land relations.
The project has both theoretical and practical objectives. Theoretically, it brings legal and anthropological perspectives to new approaches for the recognition of customary land tenures, particularly in terms of identifying ethnographic information needed to develop and evaluate regulatory options. Field research directed to understanding the scope and limits of emplaced customary authority and resource tenures provides a corpus of empirical data for analysis. In the process we seek to develop an interdisciplinary model that has application in other nation states where customary land tenures remain a prominent feature of land management practices.