Timor Leste

Embracing resource governance through ritual in a post-conflict society

Authored by: Lisa Palmer

Routledge Handbook of the Environment in Southeast Asia

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415625210
eBook ISBN: 9781315474892
Adobe ISBN: 9781315474885


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After more than a decade of United Nations and international agency oversight of its political and economic development, the young nation state of Timor Leste is eager to unshackle itself and emerge as a fully self-governing nation state. As such, it is fertile ground for an analysis of the ways in which social movements and local, regional and international practices and policy deliberations coalesce around the issue of the environment and natural resource management. Drawing out the tensions and transitions of this post-independence period, and framing them in the context of centuries of abject European colonial rule and a quarter of a century of violent Indonesian occupation, the story traced in this chapter is one drawn from the interplay of history, custom, environmentalism and the national body politic in Timor Leste. Examining the intermingling of complex ‘representational economies’ (Keane, 2007), I seek to draw out and interrogate the ways in which players from differently configured, if co-constitutive, socio-environmental domains seek to communicate, translate and justify their aspirations and activities to themselves and each other.

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