[TimorLesteStudies] Article: Living through terror: everyday resilience in East Timor and Aceh

Jenny Jennifer.Drysdale at anu.edu.au
Tue May 5 19:46:46 EST 2009

>Siapno, Jacqueline (2009) Living through terror: 
>everyday resilience in East Timor and Aceh’, Social Identities, 15(1): 43­64

Rather than subordinating the author’s lived experience and embodied knowledge
of violence to a dialogue with a ‘rule of experts’, the essay considers how
international and local responses to violence can be better integrated from the
survivor’s points of view. The essay traces the 
process that goes from the direct
experience of violence to emotional healing as a 
spiritual journey of understanding
the conditions for a sustainable, embodied peace. The essay was written
over a period of two years, starting in March 2006 when the author returned to
Aceh to conduct research on forced displacement after a six-year absence. In
April 2006 the security situation in Timor Leste worsened and the author found
herself writing the first draft in a gudang 
(storage room) in Gleno, Ermera, where
she and her family were forcibly displaced for several months. In May 26 the
author’s home in Delta I, Dili, was burnt down, 
and, subsequently, in the space of
one to two months more than two thousand homes were burnt down throughout
Dili, causing thousands of people to be 
displaced. The first draft of the essay was
completed in February 2008, after attempted assassinations on the President and
Prime Minister of Timor Leste. By this time, the 
author was very ill, after having
been evacuated three times, and in the precarious condition of being Timor
Leste’s ‘interim first lady’. Once the author had 
been able to heal and regain her
strength, having initially wanted to withdraw what seemed a depressing piece of
writing, the final draft of this essay was 
completed. Thus, the essay highlights the
process of writing and re-writing of a 
self-reflexive, marginal female scholar who
is immersed in social, political, and ecological movements in both Aceh and
Timor Leste, and whose ethical responsibility is 
to disclose the truths, deficiencies,
and weaknesses not just of herself but also of the character of the state and
political leaders in these two societies. In this 
sense, the essay addresses more
broadly the challenges faced by scholars who write ‘theory’ while living their
everyday in a conflict environment.
Keywords: resilience; embodying peace; equilibrium; agency; speaking beyond
trauma; militarised masculinities 
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