53 / We Seek Our Roots: Oral Tradition in Biboki, West Timor

Gregor Neonbasu

2011 386 Pages, paperback

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This book describes the pattern of the daily life of the people of Biboki in West Timor – Eastern Indonesia – in terms of their efforts to affirm the "roots" of their daily lives. The core claim of this study is that oral traditions form the basis for which local people both trace their origins and at the same time endeavor th conceptualize their relationships with their fellow human beings and with the cosmus. It means that oral traditions are a fundamental tool for people in establishing their roots of life within a community and in assisting their efforts to establish authority within society. The capters of the book present a range of genres of oral traditions, in conjunction with detailed exegesis and linguistic analysis in order to demonstrate the fundamental role lf these oral traditions within the life of the people.

According to Bibokinese, the root of life is considered to be the ancestors and the Spureme Being represented in the heirlooms kept in traditional houses. Life in society should be based on performing rituals at the traditional house as a vital way to create and preserve a flourishing community. At each performance at the traditional house - and also at other traditional sites where people hold rituals – oral traditions become a key factor in maintaining links with the past.


Gregor Neonbasu SVD was born in Timor, Indonesia in 1960. He completed his PhD in anthropology att The Australian National University of Canberra in 2005. He is the Chairman of St. Arnold Educational Foundation, which runs the Catholic University of Widya Mandira Kupang of West Timor, Director of Manse Nsae Research Center as well as the Head of Social Cultural Commission of the Research Region Council of East Nusa Tenggara Province. He teaches anthropology and sociology at the Catholic University of Widya Mandira, the Christian University of Artha Wacana Kupang and the Pastoral Institute of the Archidiocese of Kupang.