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Timor-Leste Studies
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Upcoming Seminars and Conferences

Governance and Political Equilibrium in Timor-Leste: Will they survive the 2017 elections?

A Seminar with Rui Graša Feijˇ

When: 4.00 – 6.00pm, Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Where: RMIT City Campus, Emily McPherson Building, RMIT Building 13, Level 1, Room 001, 405 Russell St, Melbourne
RSVP: To reserve your place please

Over the last 14 years Timor-Leste has fashioned a system of government that is rare in this part of the world, often referred to as ‘Semi-Presidentialism’. This system sees a directly elected president governing alongside a prime minister who derives legitimacy from an independently elected parliament. Based on the existence of a diarchy of powers, this system is seen by many critics as being broadly susceptible to periods of political imbalance and dysfunction, be it in the form of ‘super-presidentialism’—when presidential and parliamentary majorities coincide—or through the institutionalization of conflict as political leaders influence the government’s agenda by securing support across various portfolios. To date, this paper argues, Timor-Leste appears to have circumvented many of the problems associated with this system by electing ‘independent’ presidents. However, how realistic is it to assume that such an equilibrium can be maintained into the future?

In 2009, Xanana Gusmao, Jose Ramos-Horta and Mari Alkatiri each stressed that any assessment of the system’s virtues should only be undertaken towards the end of the third electoral cycle. This is due to occur in 2017. In this seminar Rui Graša Feijˇ will offer his thoughts on current trajectories and future possibilities for the future of state politics in Timor-Leste.

This is a public event and we welcome people to attend, engage and learn about this important issue.

About the speaker

Rui Graša Feijˇ is an assistant researcher with the Centro de Estudos Sociais in Coimbra and has been involved with researching and supporting political life in Timor-Leste since the restoration of independence in 2002. In 2005 he was appointed as a UN Advisor to the Office of the President. In 2006 he published Tropical Landscape with People Inside followed by an edited collection in 2014 entitled The Timorese Semi-Presidentialism. This year he released a new monograph Dynamics of Democracy in Timor-Leste: The Birth of Democratic Nation, 1999-2012 (Amsterdam University Press).

The Cross and the funerary pole: Fataluku cohabitations with Catholic missionaries after World War II (Timor-Leste)

Presenter: Susana de Matos Viegas, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon

Date: Thursday, 24 November 2016
Time: 12:00-1:00pm
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Swinburne University
Penang Conference Room, Level 3, Library, Hawthorn Campus

When the Fuiloro Salesian mission settled in Lautem (the easternmost district of Timor-Leste, about 200 km from Dili) in 1945, the influence of Catholicism in the region was inexistent. Informed by contemporary ethnographic analysis sustained in fieldwork in Lautem, in this paper I propose an analysis of several episodes described by father Rodrigues in his book O rei de Nari (The King of Nari, 1962), resulting from his experience in this region from 1945 to 1957. My analysis shows how the relationships of the Fataluku with the missionary were ambivalent, balancing between obeying and involving him in a reciprocal relationship of 'respect' to native customary practices. The paper aims to contribute to a historicist analysis that highlights processes of cohabitation between Fataluku funerary practices and Catholic ones as an example of broader relations involving the locals and the colonial representatives.

Enquiries and comments about the Timor-Leste Studies Association may be directed to Michael Leach
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