at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Wawata Topu – Mermaids of Timor-Leste

2013 Timor-Leste, 33mins. Colour HDV 16:9

A film by David Palazón & Enrique Alonso, with the special collaboration of Nelson Turquel and the assistance of Mario Gomes.

Wawata Topu (women divers) are four generations of fisherwomen striving to make a living in the costal village of Adara, West Atauro, Timor-Leste. Their daily lives, their economic practices and their vital concerns, as well as the contradicting discourses and social barriers they face, are shown in this ethnographic portrait that makes visible their critical contribution to the household economies and the fishing community at large. Their underwater dancing takes place in a context of rapid social change, where the generalization of the formal education, the progressive consolidation of western moral values and the potential openness of more attractive livelihoods not linked to the sea, seem to be forging a social negotiation of the household economic strategies initiated by the oldest generation during the 50´s.

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