3. Statement of the Proposed Research
The proposed research is twofold. The first part will discuss how “East Timor” as a sum of knowledge about the territory has been created. In this project, I am not aiming at deconstructing the basic hypotheses of the existing works on the history of East Timor, but rather of overcoming their inherent limitations. I understand the historical construction of “East Timor” as a muti-national project, or a process of compromising several competing national narratives of the area, especially that of Indonesian and Australian versions. To borrow Ann Laura Stoler’s phrases, the acts of archival production about “East Timor” have been expressions of “epistemic anxieties” instead of rational bureaucratic works. As a result, Timorese expressions have been often translated as they fitted in the ways the outside observers desired to view.
My primary objective, however, is to establish a more comprehensive framework to interpret the resistances of the Timorese people in the mid 20th century to early 21st century. Concerning the scope of our research, though I plan to focus primarily on the context of East Timorese people, I do agree with Hägerdal’s suggestion to take broader area perspective including Timor Island and East Nusa Tenggara instead of separating it from surrounding areas. The overestimation of the state boundaries and conceptual separation of East Timor from Eastern Indonesia resulted in ignorance of the roles of West Timorese people in the East Timor issue. To understand both the Indonesian context of invasion and involvement of eastern Indonesian migrants in East Timorese popular movements, it is necessary to connect developments in East Nusa Tenggara to (post-)colonial East Timor.
For the purpose of revealing the Timorese mass psychology to participate in the resistances against the ruling parties, I intend to use the categories of Tetun language’s unique worldviews. It is manifested in their Tetun documents, religions, practices, speech, documents, songs, oral history, and poems. It is incorrect to assume that the Timorese people had been politically inactive until the emergence of the officially-acknowledged political parties in 1974, and it is also not exact to assume that East Timorese resistance has finished with 2002 Independence. Such a conclusion results from an analytical method which does not start from the manifestation of Timorese world views, but rather interprets the events and actions in terms of “anti-colonialism.” It is only when the set of categories as manifestation of Timorese worldviews uncovered, we are going to be able to interpret the events in the light of the Timorese society.
To understand the general characteristics of Timorese resistance, I believe the conventional type of periodization based on the changes in colonial masters is not appropriate. Instead, it is more suitable to extend the period from 1940’s to East Timor’s early post independence era in 21st century. It...