Nation Building in Timor-Leste: National Identity Contests and Crises
a talk by Jonathan Henick, Political Science
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.