Narratives of violence, peace and power in Timor-Leste
Roberta Holanda Maschietto Centro de Estudos Sociais - University of Coimbra (CES-UC), PORTUGAL
This paper pays attention to the different narratives surrounding violence, peace and power in Timor-Leste. It aims to problematise the dominant and often monolithic understandings attributed to these concepts, particularly in the international peacebuilding agenda, while showing how experiences and understandings surrounding violence, peace and power are in fact dissimilar and often contrasting among different groups of actors in this country. The analysis is based, firstly, on the critical review of official documents from the United Nations related to its different missions in Timor-Leste. The purpose here is to identify how violence, power and peace were discussed and framed to be addressed through international action. Secondly, this paper relies on a series of interviews conducted in Timor-Leste in 2019 with different groups of actors, including individuals who were political prisoners during the Indonesian occupation, some who managed to escape towards the mountains, as well as some who left the country during this period. The purpose here is to investigate the different experiences of these actors through the long transition from occupation to formal independence, as well as their perceived view of peace as of today. More broadly, the paper reflects on the extent to which international peacebuilding — which is inextricably linked to the reduction (and control) of violence and the revision of power dynamics in society — has been sensitive to these different experiences and how this has influenced the consolidation of the Timorese state.