04 January 2017

Difficult memories The independence struggle as cultural heritage in East Timor

By Michael Leach
This chapter examines the way difficult sites of imprisonment, trauma and resistance are being remembered in the newly independent nation of East Timor.

While the difficult challenge of memorialising massacre sites, places of political imprisonment, torture and human rights abuses confronts many post-conflict societies, few represent as profound a loss as Timor-Leste, having suffered an estimated minimum 102,000 casualties during the Indonesian occupation from 1975 to 1999, along with forced population displacements and extensive nonfatal
human rights violation through arbitrary detention, torture and rape (CAVR).
In Timor-Leste, these difficult legacies are complicated by the distinct cultural and linguistic affiliations promoted by successive colonial regimes, political schisms within the former independence movement, a lack justice for the victims of human rights abuses during the Indonesian occupation, and the recent rise of regional tensions. These fissures have complicated the process of nation-building, and the articulation of a unifying post-colonial national identity. As such, they are critical to understanding the cultural heritage of the independence struggle and its conservation in Timor-Leste, which is itself an exercise in articulating cultural nationalism.

See the full chapter at http://www.cultura.gov.tl/sites/default/files/MLeach_Difficult_memories_2008.pdf

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