Colóquio Internacional TLSA-PT

Timor-Leste:A Ilha e o Mundo

7 a 11 de setembro 2020Colóquio Online

‘Nations of Intent’: FRETILIN and UDT Nationalisms and the Role of Portugal

Michael Leach Faculty of Health, Arts and Design - Swinburne University of Technology, AUSTRALIA

Following the 1974 Carnation Revolution, Portuguese Timor’s small, educated, assimilado elite developed new parties, each bearing a distinct ‘nation of intent’ (Rotberg 1966), or ideological vision of nationalism (Leach 2016, 55-60). In this conception, nationalism is seen a discursive contest over the values, form and boundaries of a nation, between particular ideological projects. Against the ASDT-FRETILIN’s modernising secular and radical nationalism, represented by the unifying image of the ‘Maubere’ people; the UDT promoted continuing visions of a Lusitanian assimilado identity, and a hierarchical Catholic society in continuing association with Portugal. Advocating integration with Indonesia, APODETI reprised ideas of older unities with the ancient ‘centre’ in Wehale (Molnar 2009: 44), recalling links to west Timor. With a distinctively traditionalist vision of the nation promoted by, KOTA sought to restore liurai authority over the traditional reinos which predated the colonial reorganisation of the territory (Hicks 2014).
These clashes between these ‘nations-of-intent’ would define the fault lines within early East Timorese nationalism, evidenced most gravely in the civil war after the breakdown of the FRETILIN-UDT coalition in 1975. This paper examines these competing conceptions of the nation – and their distinct understandings of Portugal's role in relation to decolonisation and self-determination in 1974 and 1975.