Exile and return among the East Timorese

Amanda Wise*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


East Timor, the world's newest nation, finally gained its independence in 2002, following half a millennium of Portuguese rule and 24 years of Indonesian occupation. That occupation produced a refugee diaspora spread between Portugal and Australia that has been integral in advancing East Timor's cause abroad. Because East Timorese in the diaspora identified strongly as exiles and invested so much in pursuing East Timor's independence, the homeland's liberation has complicated the very basis on which many have "imagined" themselves since fleeing to Australia. Wise interrogates the space after exile for members of the East Timorese diaspora in Australia, in dialogue with key debates on diasporic identities within cultural studies, contemporary anthropology, and cultural geography. Drawing on innovative ethnographic research, Exile and Return Among the East Timorese explores questions of shifting identity and home, trauma and embodiment, belonging and return among the East Timorese abroad at this critical juncture in their lives. The book asks what forms of cultural identity emerge among politically active refugee diasporas, what happens to such groups when the dream of homeland is fulfilled, and how they renegotiate a sense of home after exile. The lived experience of Timorese in Australia and former refugees who have returned to East Timor is brought to life through their eloquent and often moving firsthand narratives, which the author has used liberally throughout the book, vividly presenting them alongside images and analysis of their role in the political struggle. Providing unique insights into cultural identities in the transition from exile to diaspora in a post-refugee group, Exile and Return Among the East Timorese is essential reading for anyone interested in questions of home and identity among diasporic, transnational, and refugee communities.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia, PA
PublisherUniversity of Pennsylvania Press
Number of pages238
ISBN (Electronic)9780812203929
ISBN (Print)0812239091, 9780812239096
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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