This is a selection of books available on Timor-Leste. Please send your recommendations to the TLSA website by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Women’s Words
Violence and Everyday Life during the Indonesian Occupation of East Timor, 1975–1999
Sussex Academic Press
Drawing on oral history interviews, this study presents a woman-centred history of the Indonesian occupation. It reveals the pervasiveness of violence – as well as its gendered and gendering dynamics – within the social and cultural “everyday” of life in occupied East Timor.
The violence experienced by East Timorese women ranged from torture, rape, and interrogation, to various forms of surveillance and social control, and the structural imposition of particular feminine ideals upon their lives and bodies. Through women, East Timorese familial culture was also targeted via programmes to “develop” and “modernise” the territory by transforming the feminine and the domestic sphere. Women experienced the occupation differently to men, not just because they were vulnerable to sexual violence, but also because they endured proxy violence as the military’s means of targeting male relatives and the resistance at large.
In Women’s Words tells a story of survival and perseverance by highlighting the strength, initiative, and negotiating skills of East Timorese women. Many women lived in circumstances of constant negotiation and attempts to maintain order and normality, as well as to provide for themselves and their families, in a society where everyday life was characterised by violence and uncertainty. This study demonstrates the capacity of people to survive, to endure, and to resist, even amid the most difficult of circumstances. It provides insights into the social and cultural elements of territorial control, as well as the locally-grounded strategies that are often used for negotiating and resisting an occupying power.
National-Building and National Identity in Timor Leste by Michael Leach
Routledge: Oxford, New York
Timor-Leste’s long journey to nationhood spans 450 years of colonial rule by Portugal, a short-lived independence in 1975, and a 24-year occupation by Indonesia. This book examines the history of nation-building and national identity in Timor-Leste, and the evolution of a collective identity through two consecutive colonial occupations, and into the post-independence era. It charts the evolution of the idea of an East Timorese nation: its origins, its sources, and its competitors in traditional understandings of political community, and the distinct colonial visions imposed by Portugal or Indonesia. The author analyses the evolution of ideas of collective identity under the long era of Portuguese colonial rule, and through the 24-year struggle for independence from Indonesia from 1975 to 1999. Reflecting the contested history of the territory, these include successive attempts to define its members as colonial subjects in a wider ‘pluri-racial’ Portuguese empire, as citizens in an ‘integrated’ province of the Republic of Indonesia – and, of course, as a nation that demanded its right to self-determination. Finally, the host of nation-building tensions and fault lines that emerged after the restoration of independence in 2002 are discussed.
Examining the history of debates and conflict over national identity, national history, cultural heritage, language policy, and relationships between distinct regions, generations, and language groups, this book will be of interest to academics in the fields of Asian studies, nationalism studies, and international and community development.