EAST TIMOR: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY, POLITICS AND CULTURE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA’S YOUNGEST NATION

 

 

By

Andrea K. Molnar

Northern Illinois University

Department of Anthropology and Center for Southeast Asian Studies

May 2005

 

If you utilize material from this web course, please cite it as you would any published work.

 

 

I.                   INTRODUCTION:

 

This web course is intended as a general introduction to the people, culture, history and politics of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste. While specialists might find the bibliography and web-links[1] useful to some degree, the course is designed for a more general audience, particularly educators who wish to enhance their social science course content with Southeast Asian material. East Timor is after all the youngest, and perhaps least known, nation of Southeast Asia.
 

The course is informed by a wide range of literature, web-sites, as well as on-going ethnographic field research. Certain sections of the course are influenced by these research interests and thus include original field data. The special issues that will be highlighted will focus on some current controversies surrounding: A. Language; B. Truth and Reconciliation; C. Political activism and role of the Catholic Church in East Timor; D. Internal Security problems. E. Oil
 

The course is divided into four parts. The General Background part will provide a brief overview of the country, geography, demography, climate, and economy. The History and Politics part reviews major points in the historical experiences of the East Timorese people and discusses current politics and government structure. The last part, Culture and Language, will provide a general introduction to variety and heterogeneity of cultures and languages of East Timor, with special examples from the Kemak culture.  The Fourth part will be divided into sections on highlighted special issues. A list of questions and topics for further discussion, a bibliography, and useful web-sites are also provided at the end of this introductory web course.


 

 

 

Proud East Timorese Elders (photograph by Andrea K. Molnar)


 

[1] http://newton.uor.edu/Departments&Programs/AsianStudiesDept/timor.html is a particularly useful cite that brings together links to a large number of varied web sources on East Timor.

 

1.      General Background

1. a. Geography

1. b. Climate

1. c. Demography

1. d. Economy
 

2. History and Politics

2. a. Pre-colonial history

2. b. Portuguese contact and historical experience

2. c. Indonesian occupation

2. d. On the road to full independence: United National Transitional Administration

2. e. The New Nation: Democratic Republic of Timor Leste

i. Structure of the Government
ii. Heads of State

iii. Parliamentary System

iv. Ministries and Judiciary
 

3. People and Culture

3. a. Ethno-linguistic groups

3. b. Features of indigenous cultures

3. c. Religion: Catholicism and ancestral cults

3. d. Samples of ancestral myths: oral history

 

4. Special Issues

A. Language and Discourse

B. Truth and Reconciliation

C. Political activism and role of the Catholic Church in East Timor

D. Internal Security problems

E. Oil

Topics and questions for further discussion

 

Bibliography and useful web-links:

English language published sources

Foreign language published sources

Websites