[TimorLesteStudies] Geoffrey Gunn's article: The State of East Timor Studies after 1999

Jennifer Drysdale jenster at cres10.anu.edu.au
Tue Jun 5 10:13:28 EST 2007

The State of East Timor Studies After 1999
Geoffrey Gunn
Journal of Contemporary Asia
Vol. 37, No. 1, February 2007, pp. 95-114

Taking stock of the state of knowledge on East Timor since the UN 
intervention of 1999, this article traces the rise of a hegemonic 
discourse especially around development issues notably as promoted by 
the World Bank. In turn, the World Bank discourse of lean government, 
market-oriented economic policies, and export-oriented agriculture is 
reflected in a number of publications. As a formidable patronage 
machine in East Timor, it would not be surprising if arriving 
international staff along with East Timorese returnees would emerge 
as Bank collaborators or even employees. The thriving NGO community 
which emerged in East Timor as the underbelly of the UN mission also 
found common cause with human rights discourse and, especially, 
sustainable development discourse from within the UN mission. 
Meanwhile, a number of foreign anthropologists embedded themselves 
within and without the UN mission producing a major corpus of 
writings. Amidst this "clash of paradigms" East Timor muddled along, 
dependent on donor support, but prey to vagaries of seasons, 
international markets, and predatory outsiders. To a large extent, 
the international agency, NGO, and academic literature tracked these 
vagaries but, outside of linguistic studies, we await a critical mass 
of autonomous writings by East Timorese about East Timor.

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