Becoming citizens: civil society activism and social change in Timor Leste

Wigglesworth, Ann (2010) Becoming citizens: civil society activism and social change in Timor Leste. PhD thesis, Victoria Unversity.


This thesis focuses on a generation of Timorese who were educated during the Indonesian occupation. Conceptual frameworks of community development, participation, civil society and citizenship, are drawn upon to analyse the processes of development taking place in the first years of nationhood of Timor Leste. Within this context, three themes are developed. First, a generational divide related to education and the language policy which leaves the Indonesian educated young people marginalised within the new national development framework; second, the limitations that customary practices place upon the ability of young women to participate in political and social activities; third, an analysis of the centralised processes of development that have resulted in young men leaving the rural areas for opportunities in the urban areas and consequent implications for social organisation. These three themes are analysed in the context of a civil society largely run by young Timorese. I investigate the roles of power holders in contemporary Timor Leste – the government, the traditional leaders and international development agencies and analyse the place that civil society has in this new nation. I argue that Timorese activists are able to bridge the traditional Timorese world with international values of development and human rights, but their roles and contributions have to date been inadequately supported.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society
Keywords Timor Leste, social change, civil activism, citizenship, community development
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