Southeast Asian Grassroots Peacebuilding: Perspectives on Indonesia and Timor-Leste relationship

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Panel

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Abstract

The relationship between Indonesia and East Timor changed dramatically in 1999 when a majority of the East Timor population voted to reject the status of Special Autonomy within Indonesia. The departure of the Indonesian military was accompanied by widespread killings, the forced evacuation of thousands of East Timorese, and the destruction of 70 per cent of the territory’s public infrastructure. Despite this violent and destructive separation, Indonesia is now one of Timor-Leste’s major bilateral partners. In 2017, total trade between the two countries reached a value of US$580 million—a significant increase from US$175 million in 2010. There are around 9000 Indonesians currently living in Timor-Leste, making them the largest immigrant group in the country. Bilateral engagements have also been manifested in various sectors that led scholars to argue that Indonesia and Timor-Leste remain intricately entwined at the political, cultural and personal levels in many ways. Little attention, however, has been paid to the way these relationships evolved, been sustained and continued to develop. This panel invites contributions from scholars whose work touches on these issues and other issues related to Indonesia and Timor-Leste relationship beyond the institutional channels of trade, aid and investment. It seeks to contribute to scholarly debates on peacebuilding, particularly on grassroots channels of engagement such as objects, ideas, images, symbols, media, memories, and metaphors, in which people use to sustain or rebuild their relationships.