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Nation Building in Timor-Leste


March 12, 2014 12:00-1:30 pm
Tokioka Room – Moore Hall 319

Nation building has tended to focus on the role of political elites in constructing “hard” institutions to create a sense of national identity. Timor-Leste’s experience suggests, however, that when “soft” or cultural aspects of nationhood – including symbols, rituals and narratives – are undervalued or ignored national identity weakens and can contribute to political crises and instability. This case study also suggests that political elites do not have an unfettered hand in nation building and that the process is negotiated and contested by societal groups and institutions that sometimes are able to assert their own alternative views of the nation.

henickJonathan Henick, a 20-year veteran of the State Department’s Foreign Service, currently serves as a Faculty Advisor and Public Diplomacy Fellow at the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at George Washington University. Previously, Mr. Henick served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Timor-Leste, where he was responsible for managing a mission that included four U.S. government agencies and almost 200 staff. He has also served in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Portugal, and Uzbekistan, as well as at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Mr. Henick spent one year as a visiting research fellow and diplomat-in-residence at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Henick received the 2008 Award for Achievement in Public Diplomacy granted by the Public Diplomacy Alumni Association, and he has also received four individual Superior Honor Awards from the State Department. Originally from New York, he speaks Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Azerbaijani, and holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.

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