Some of the more interesting and useful work on diasporic and transnational identities has emanated from scholars working in cultural studies and contemporary anthropology. However, with a few notable exceptions, little attention has been paid to the specific experiences of refugee diasporas, and in particular, to the role of trauma and embodiment in the creation of these ‘moral communities.’ Based on research with the East Timorese diaspora in Australia, this article looks at the performative dimensions (protests, church rituals, singing, and dancing) of the diaspora’s political campaign for East Timor’s independence. I consider how the bodily dimensions of this protest movement contributed to certain formations of identity, belonging, and exile, within the Timorese community. In particular, I explore how these performative strategies have created a context for ‘retraumatizing’ bodies and memories, channeling them into a political ‘community of suffering,’ in turn contributing to a heightened sense of the morality of an exilic identity among many Timorese.
Trauma and Collective Identities among East Timorese Refugees in Australia
An Editorial Comment
On 4 July 2003, a one-day “Cultural Research and Refugee Studies” workshop was held in Sydney. Greg Gow and Amanda Wise organized the workshop, a cooperative venture between the cultural research centers of the University of Western Sydney and the Australian National University. It brought together a large group of researchers, practitioners, and community representatives to exchange ideas about cultural research among refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. The three articles that follow, by Gow, Wise, and Glazebrook, present a particular perspective on the methodology of studying and analyzing refugee behavior in Cultural Studies, stressing the significance of considering the emotive and affective aspects of their status and position. Wise’s material considers East Timorese refugees, many of whom now have residence in Australia, while Gow and Glazebrook examine more recent refugees and asylum seekers from Iraq and Central Afghanistan, respectively, many of whom still have uncertain futures. Comments from a panel discussion by Khalid Koser, Pnina Werbner, and Ien Ang complete this thematic section.
status quo, thus advancing “a vision of a new society and a new life” (Duarte 1987–1988: 51). The priest was not the only one who speculated about the existence of “cargo cults” in East Timor. When in 2011 the East Timorese government (by then independent
Parasitic Mimesis and the Government of Savagery in Colonial East Timor
the first governor to do so, nor the last. In Timor, the feast of the heads continued to be both a problematic and productive space for the Portuguese colonial authority, with governors and army officers in regular attendance up to the East Timorese
What Can We Learn from Hybridity?
reproduce simplistic and homogenizing dichotomies. The work of Lia Kent (2011) demonstrates that an international imposition/local resistance dichotomy cannot adequately explain the various ways in which East Timorese survivors are reproducing, resisting