[TimorLesteStudies] New publication: Nation building and resource management: The politics of 'nature' in Timor Leste

Bu Wilson Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au
Thu Jan 24 15:56:17 EST 2008

Palmer, Lisa, de Carvalho, Demetrio A., 'Nation building and resource
management: The politics of nature in Timor Leste,  Geoforum (2007),
doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2007.09.007 (in-press).  

Available Online 19 November 2007:


This paper examines the role of custom and tradition in the process of
nation building and resource management in post-independence Timor Leste
(East Timor). While customary land tenure is alluded to but not explicitly
recognized under the Timorese Constitution, it is clearly stated that all
natural resources are owned by the State. However, this paper argues that
rather than waiting for the government to create land and resource
management related laws, local people in Timor Leste are making and remaking
their own laws, mobilizing their customary practices and, increasingly,
'performing' their traditions in public demonstrations of their extant
capacities. In part, this process can be read as a way of enticing in
outsiders, making them a party to the law making process, a witness to its
legitimacy. Often critical to such processes, is the ability of local level
leaders to draw in outsiders through their engagements with the idea of
'nature'- a concept which allows diverse interests to come together in
conversation and build relationships despite what is often a dissonance in
the meanings and priorities attributed to the concept (see Tsing, A.L.,
2005.Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton University
Press, Princeton and Oxford). The paper focuses on a view from the margins -
Tutuala in the far east of the country - and ways in which this community is
attempting to both resist and embrace the developmental hegemony of a
centrist state. This, it is argued, is a case which demonstrates the power
of the local (both ritually and politically) to shape and intervene in the
national development process and the associated discourses of nature

 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Timor Leste; Nature; Nation building; Resource management;
Politics; Custom; Tradition; Marginality

Bu Wilson
Regulatory  Institutions Network (RegNet)
College of Asia and the Pacific, RSPAS
Australian National University
Canberra   ACT   0200

T: 02 6125 3194
F: 02 6125 1507
M: 0407 087 086
E: Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au


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