[TimorLesteStudies] Seminar (ANU, Canberra): 'Reimagining Timor-Leste: Nationalism and the role of education in post-independence nation-building'

Michael Leach mleach at swin.edu.au
Wed May 25 18:05:41 AEST 2016

Reimagining Timor-Leste: Nationalism and the role of education in post-independence nation-building
Armindo Maia
Monday 30 May, 2016
Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130),
corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
3:00 - 4:30pm

This thesis examines the role of education in locating
nationalism in Timor-Leste’s post-independence
nation-building. Historical accounts confirm that education
played a central role in the emergence and consolidation of East
Timorese pre-independence nationalism, particularly among the
younger generation. Nationalism became a powerful unifying and
galvanising force in the long struggle for independence. It was
grounded in a synergetic combination of external concepts with
local cultural symbols that resounded deeply among the Timorese.

What role does nationalism play in post-independence Timor-Leste?
How does formal education locate nationalism in the context of
nation-building? To address these questions, the thesis examines
the general perceptions of nationalism among East Timorese, the
role of official languages in national identity, the role of
history education in nationalism, and the extent to which
national symbols and ceremonies have nurtured students’
sense of, and allegiance to, the nation.

The research has found a fundamental shift in perceptions of
nationalism from those shaped by externally-driven factors to an
internally-focused and civic nationalism. Other important
findings include an asymmetrical development of the two
co-official languages, which has rendered Tetun as the language
of national identity on the one hand and has seen Portuguese
strictly confined to the classrooms on the other. A further
finding is the development of national history curriculum that
hampers the development of critical perspectives of nationhood
and nationalism among students. The thesis concludes that as a
social construct, nationalism rises and falls, and suggests that
it is up to East Timorese agencies, both state and non-state, to
define and locate the role of education in post-independence
nation-building, in which a “Timorised” nationalism
remains an integral part.

(via TL-Historia Group)

Professor Michael Leach
Chair, Department of Education and Social Sciences
Faculty of Health, Arts and Design
Swinburne University of Technology
H98, PO Box 218 Hawthorn VIC
Phone: +61 3 9214 5357

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