The Crocodile's Tears: East Timor in the Making

Gudmund Jannisa

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


On 7 December 1975 Indonesian troops invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which had unilaterally declared itself independent on 28 November the same year. The immediate background to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor was that the old regime in Portugal was overthrown in April 1974, resulting in a decolonisation programme for Portugal's colonies. Immediately after the invasion Indonesia installed a provisional government and now regards East Timor (Timor Timur in Bahasa Indonesia) as the Indonesian Republic's twenty-seventh province. The period 1975-1989 was in East Timor characterised first by war, later by isolation and fear. From 1989, in which year East Timor was opened up for visitors by the Indonesian authorities, resistance against the occupation has been manifested in a multitude of ways, both by those living inside East Timor and among the East Timorese in exile. This was highlighted when, in December 1996, José Ramos Horta and Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in trying to resolve the conflict. The thesis presents the conflict in a historic perspective where the growth of Indonesian and East Timorese nationalisms are seen as two distinct historical processes which are shaped by their respective positions in the pre-colonial maritime trade of Asia, the impact of colonialism (Dutch and Portuguese respectively) and modern history in a global sense, especially from W.W.II onwards. The hypothesis of the study is that there exists among the East Timorese a sense of community feeling which by Benedict Anderson has been called an 'imagined community'. The aim of the thesis is to describe the historical background to the conflict and to establish the factors (historical/ethnic/linguistic etc.) which have led to the formation of this 'imagined community'in the sense that Benedict Anderson discusses this concept. The study ends with a discussion about the possibility to find solutions to the conflict, a possibility which is greatly enhanced by the East Timorese resistance' willingness to take part in 'talks without preconditions' under the auspices of the UN.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Sociology
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1997 May 29
ISBN (Print)91-89078-01-2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 1997-05-29
Time: 10:00
Place: Edens hörsal, Paradisgatan 5H, Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Törnqvist, Olle
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: [unknown]

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Free keywords

  • Sociology
  • East Timor
  • Asian maritime trade
  • imagined community
  • Indonesia
  • nationalism


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