Asian Review


Kisho Tsuchiya

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This article explores the history of East Timor from 1942 to the early 1990s, examining how ideological tolerance of racial and cultural diversity functioned as a state policy under Portuguese and Indonesian regimes to limit the appeal of separatist movements. The Portuguese policy shift towards multi-racialism in the middle of the 20th century reflected their experiences of Timorese hostility during the Pacific War and the rise of international anticolonialism in the post-war period. Portuguese multi-racialism (1951-74) justifi ed their "European" presence in Asia and Africa, and it resulted in the promotion of Portuguese citizenship among the Timorese. Th e Indonesian rule of East Timor from 1976 used the rhetoric of "unity in diversity" and racial commonality to weaken the ground of East Timorese separatism. This was sufficiently effective to marginalize international dissent into the late 1980s. In so doing, Indonesia utilized the Pan-Timorese sentiment which the Portuguese suppressed while excluding the "new Portuguese" from East Timor. East Timorese ethno-nationalism gained momentum only when Indonesia's atrocity was exposed through the Western media in 1991 and East Timorese activists adopted the language of human-rights, the dominant ideology of the post-Cold War age. The conclusion of this paper is that East Timorese identity politics have been characterized by the experiences of those multiple layers of being included and excluded under the Portuguese and Indonesian policies.



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