Organized Panel Session
Memorialisation and historical research projects have been thriving in Timor-Leste in recent years, after a period of relative absence of Timorese authorship in historical research and memorialisation projects since the country regained independence in 2002. In the initial years of independence, historical research, curriculum development and archives/museums projects were mostly undertaken by foreign researchers or with significant external support. More recently, a movement for the ‘timorisation’ of historical production and memorialisation has gained momentum.
History in Timor-Leste, as elsewhere, is key to developing nationalist foundational histories and mobilising contemporary political projects. The national narrative has focused on the history of resistance against Indonesian occupation. Since 2014, several Timorese oral history research and writing initiatives have attempted to go beyond nationalist narratives, focussing on the role and histories of women and the younger generation and the diasporas.
The panel unites presenters based in Timor-Leste, Portugal, Japan, the United States and Canada. Marisa Ramos Gonçalves tells a story of South-South solidarity through the lens of the Timorese diaspora in Mozambique (1975-1999). Rogério Savio's presentation addresses the experiences of women during Portuguese colonialism (1950-1975) and Indonesian occupation (1975-1999). Takahiro Kamisuna connects Indonesian and East Timorese youth struggles for the independence of East Timor and democracy for Indonesia. Amy Rothschild’s paper addresses the challenges of memorialization that have framed the Timorese dead in a human rights language of suffering victimhood. Finally, David Webster discusses the way each paper uses sources and relates this to memorialisation in Timorese museums, written, visual and spoken sources.