[TimorLesteStudies] New article: (Post-)colonial state-building and state failure in East Timor: bringing social conflict back in
bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Wed Aug 25 08:41:36 EST 2010
Jones, Lee (2010). (Post-)colonial state-building and state failure in East Timor: bringing social conflict back in, Conflict, Security and Development, 10: 4, 547-575
One potential explanation for the persistent gap between international state-builders' aspirations and achievements is their misguided understanding of states as institutional apparatuses abstracted and separated from society. State-society interpenetration is actually the historical norm, and a proper understanding of state forms requires close analysis of the conflicts between different social forces as they promote state projects that will advance particular interests over others. International state-builders are best conceptualised as merely one—albeit important—party to this ongoing struggle, which state-builders have no realistic hope of taming. The argument is illustrated by the case of East Timor. Both Indonesian and UN efforts to transplant state projects into Timorese society, even when backed by tremendous economic and coercive resources, failed to simply penetrate and dominate, or to create a technically efficient state insulated from, society. Rather, their state projects became interpenetrated with the society they sought to govern, and thus became shot through with social conflict. Neither more 'capacity-building' nor 'participatory intervention' can eliminate this conflict, nor evacuate it from the state.
* Lee Jones (DPhil, Oxford) is Lecturer in International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London. His work focuses on the politics of sovereignty and intervention in developing countries. He is currently completing a book on (non)intervention by ASEAN states, and will soon embark on a new project on economic sanctions.
Dr Bu V.E. Wilson
+61 0 407 087 086
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