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Becoming LandownersEntanglements of Custom and Modernity in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste$
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Victoria C. Stead

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856663

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856663.001.0001

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Contesting Land, City, State, and Nation

Contesting Land, City, State, and Nation

(p.152) Chapter 7 Contesting Land, City, State, and Nation
Becoming Landowners

Victoria C. Stead

University of Hawai'i Press

This article considers contestations over land, state and nation in Aitarak Laran, an urban settlement in post-independence Timor-Leste. Since 2010 the settlement has been resisting eviction by the East Timorese state, which wishes to use the land it occupies to build a National Library and Cultural Centre. The contestation at Aitarak Laran reveals counter-posed imaginings of land as homeland, territory and property. In the settlement, the promises of independence—unity, equivalence, and inclusion within the sovereign nation-state—are at odds with residents’ experiences of what independence has in fact brought. Land, in its multiple imaginings, becomes a crucible upon which this painful disjuncture plays out. Reading Aitarak Laran as an instance of “right to the city” struggle, these tensions emerge as well not only in practice but also in theory, reflected particularly in the limitations and ambiguities of rights discourse.

Keywords:   urban-rural, right to the city, Dili, homeland, territory, property, postcolonialism, protest, rights, eviction

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