ADeTiL
A autodeterminação de Timor-Leste: um estudo de História Transnacional

Period
36 meses
Funding Entity
Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology
Abstract

The process of granting European colonies their right to self-determination dates back to the end of WW II when the world started to move from 'the age of empire to the age of super-powers' (Hilton & Mitter 2013). 'In Southeast Asian colonies occupied by the Japanese war created an 'opportune moment' [...] making it difficult if not impossible for colonial powers to recover their position', opening up the 'first wave of decolonization' (Shipway 2008). Timor was involved in this process from the very beginning, but it would take several decades for it to gain a new impetus. Portugal regained control over its colony as the occupying Japanese surrendered, Salazar having secured support for the Empire’s territorial integrity in the 1944 negotiations over Azores (Rodrigues 2003, Maxwell 2004). Indonesia was among the first nations to break the colonial yoke, and western powers doubted Portugal's capacity to administer its territory and favored incorporation in Indonesia (Moisés Fernandes 2016). Not before the Carnations Revolution would the status quo be disturbed (in spite of a rebellion in 1959 ? Chamberlain, 2009, Gunter 2007). After the Revolution, Portugal took trouble to find a solid position on the Timorese issue (Santos 2006) and the handling of the situation remained a point of controversy (Pires 1991; Durand & Dovert 2016). Negotiations for a pacted solution failed and eventually led to a brief civil war, after which Portugal withdrew from the mainland, FRETILIN proclaimed unilateral independence, and Indonesia invaded the territory frustrating decolonization (Figueiredo 2015). Portugal having refused to internationalize the conflict while some military presence was possible, the issue was then brought to the UN and gained a new dimension (Carey 2010). For the following quarter century, Timorese self-determination would combine internal factors (military struggle and the Resistance clandestine network, political evolution of relevant actors like the Catholic Church or civilians who participated in foreign administration, v.g. Carrascalão [2006]) with intense international diplomatic activity, involving directly Portugal, Indonesia and the UN, and indirectly other relevant countries like Australia and the USA. In Portugal, the Timor issue was taken up by actors such as the President of the Republic, Revolutionary Council, Government and Parliament. International public opinion was mobilized by NGOs and social movements played key roles (Clinton Fernandes 2011). This forms a transnational framework for this research project, transcending 'the history of government relations, or even the history of individuals and organizations acting on behalf of their governments or in the context of government policy' (Hogan 2004) to embrace actors outside the state realm. It will pursued mostly in Portugal, but will also consider investigation archival survey and interviews of relevant actors - in Indonesia, Australia, USA/UN and Timor-Leste.