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Another Go at Life: Dili, East Timor

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Philpott


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Dili has been a capital city for two and a half centuries, firstly for the Portuguese colony of Timor, then as a city in an Indonesian province under occupation and today as capital of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste. However, throughout these transformations little has been published on what many have taken to be an unprepossessing small city located at the edge of an unspectacular shoreline. When mentioned at all, Dili is invariably described as a dusty, neglected colonial outpost, a curious relic from a time when Portugal was a major maritime power. In the mid 19th century Alfred Russell Wallace described Dili as a 'most miserable place.'2 In his 1915 novel Victory Joseph Conrad described the city as that "highly pestilential place," a description that surfaced again as recently as 2001.3 Although this disdain means Dili and East Timor has rarely been front page news it nonetheless became synonymous with a form of military repression that has a Cold War genealogy.4 This repression manifested itself in ways significant for the debates on urbicide.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Philpott S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Theory and Event

Year: 2007

Volume: 10

Issue: 2

ISSN (print): 1092-311X


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