Beyond Nationalism: Youth Struggle For The Independence Of East Timor And Democracy For Indonesia
Takahiro Kamisuna Osaka School of International Public Policy - Osaka University (OSIPP-Osaka University), JAPAN
In the 1990s, East Timorese and Indonesian youths carried out joint mass demonstrations against Indonesia’s New Order regime. East Timorese youth rallied behind and supported Indonesian student movements. Despite different advocacies—democracy for Indonesians and independence for East Timorese—the nationalist movement of East Timorese youths created a common political sphere with Indonesians. While the creation of a common political sphere has been frequently argued in the literature of liberal and plural nationalism by Southeast Asian scholarships, the analytical scopes of existing literature have narrowly limited nationalism within the conventional wisdom of territorial nations. In contrast, this paper expands the extant literature’s notion of nationalism by interrogating political spaces that influence, accommodate, and transcend nationalism outside its territorial scope. Through fieldwork in Dili and Jakarta and archive research, this paper reveals that young East Timorese nationalists advanced and strengthened their cause by articulating Indonesiação do Conflito de Timor-Leste (Indonesianisation of the Conflict East Timor) and Indonesianizing the conflict. Focusing on a clandestine group of young East Timorese nationalists in Indonesia, Resistência Nacional dos Estudantes de Timor-Leste (Renetil), this study argues that a conducive political sphere was created when East Timorese activists adopted the Indonesian nationalist rhetoric of pemuda (politicized youths), which allowed East Timorese to share common vocabulary of dissent with Indonesians. It suggests that nationalism is not an exclusive byproduct of different currents operating in a closed socio-political space but also by interactions of actors in more open and common political spaces as demonstrated by East Timorese-Indonesian solidarity.