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East Timor's double life: Smells like Westphalian spirit

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon Philpott


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While East Timor may have been the last nation to emerge out of the turbulent 20th century, its passage to nationhood was as protracted, painful and violent as that of many of its predecessors. With it regarded by the majority of international opinion as too small, too weak and lacking in economic viability to establish itself as a nation-state at the time of Portuguese decolonisation, East Timorese aspirations for statehood were all but ignored in 1974-75, while the Indonesian government received covert support from the USA and Australia for its invasion and occupation of the Portuguese colony. However, in the aftermath of the Santa Cruz massacre of 1991, neither Indonesia nor its allies could convincingly deny the legitimacy of East Timorese demands for independence in a world of sharply reduced cold war tensions and reinvested in the merits of democratic sovereignty. This article examines the circumstances of East Timor's invasion, indigenous discourses of identity and resistance, and the role played by the UN in steering East Timor from military occupation to independence. © 2006 Third World Quarterly.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Philpott S

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Third World Quarterly

Year: 2006

Volume: 27

Issue: 1

Pages: 135-159

Print publication date: 01/02/2006

ISSN (print): 0143-6597

ISSN (electronic): 1360-2241


DOI: 10.1080/01436590500370004


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