Overcoming secularism? catholic development geographies in Timor-Leste

Andrew McGregor*, Laura Skeaff, Marianne Bevan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The Catholic Church has played a key role in the development of Timor-Leste since Dominican friars first began trading with the Timorese in the 16th century. Religious networks and spaces have been essential in delivering development services, while Catholic theologies have shaped how development is pursued and understood. In this paper we outline the changing contribution and character of the Catholic Church through three periods of Timor's tumultuous history-during colonialism, under Indonesian occupation and through independence-with a greater focus on the latter stages. We present the Timorese Church as a heterogeneous organisation that responds in both progressive and conservative ways to the socio-political contexts in which it is embedded. Our aim is to highlight the diverse religious development geographies that exist in Timor-Leste but which are marginalised within contemporary development planning and policy. Drawing upon post-development theory and performative research, we encourage debate about the role of religious institutions in inspiring 'alternatives-to-development'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1146
Number of pages18
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


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