Indonesian West Timor: The political-economy of emerging ethno-nationalism

Rodney Stafford Nixon

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


    Encouraged by the post-Soeharto atmosphere of reform and regional autonomy legislation proposed under Habibie, the aspirations of Indonesia's regional elites have been stirred. Yet prosperity has remained elusive for many amidst continuing economic decline and as an unreformed military continues to threaten the business ambitions of regional elites. In West Timor, one of the poorest parts of Indonesia, local elites have had to contend with the added burden of the fallout from the 1999 pro-integrationist military operation in East Timor. Beginning with the need to host the quarter-million East Timorese refugees who fled West accompanied by their Indonesian military-trained tormentors, the West Timorese have paid highly for independence in the East and suffered enduring economic malaise. This is reflected in the devastation of tourism and foreign investment, the suspension of major aid projects, the severing of the air-link to Northern Australia and a United Nations high-security alert in force since 2000. This crisis in which the aspirations of regional elites have been thwarted by the neglect and incapacity of central government and by the nature and political agenda of the Indonesian military elites, has provoked several reactions. As some West Timorese elites have lobbied for a share of the East Timorese petroleum revenues, the discovery of an essential Timorese-ness by others has been manifested in the ethno-nationalist Negara Timor Raya (Nation of the Land of Timor) movement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-185
    JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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