The Promise of Prosperity

The Promise of Prosperity

Visions of the Future in Timor-Leste

Edited by: Judith Bovensiepen orcid

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For the people of Timor-Leste, independence promised a fundamental transformation from foreign occupation to self-rule, from brutality to respect for basic rights, and from poverty to prosperity. In the eyes of the country’s political leaders, revenue from the country’s oil and gas reserves is the means by which that transformation could be effected. Over the past decade, they have formulated ambitious plans for state-led development projects and rapid economic growth. Paradoxically, these modernist visions are simultaneously informed by and contradict ideas stemming from custom, religion, accountability and responsibility to future generations. This book explores how the promise of prosperity informs policy and how policy debates shape expectations about the future in one of the world’s newest and poorest nation-states.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Dec 2018
ANU Press
Pacific Series
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies; Science: Environmental Sciences; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Social Policy & Administration
Pacific: Timor-Leste

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The Promise of Prosperity  »

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Part I: Looking at the future through the past

  1. Progress and propaganda in Timor-Leste: Visions of the future in comparative historical perspective (PDF, 0.2MB)Douglas Kammen doi
  2. The Timor Oil Company’s network, 1956–1968: Interacting internal and external infrastructures (PDF, 0.3MB)Alex Grainger doi

Part II: State visions of development

  1. Political and economic challenges of petroleum dependency in Timor-Leste (PDF, 0.2MB)Guteriano Neves doi
  2. Piloting the experimental ZEESM megaproject: Performing the future in the Oecusse-Ambeno enclave (PDF, 0.2MB)Laura S. Meitzner Yoder doi
  3. Expropriation or plunder? Property rights and infrastructure development in Oecusse (PDF, 0.2MB)Bernardo Almeida doi
  4. Just a dream? The struggle for national resource sovereignty and oil infrastructure development along Timor-Leste’s south coast (PDF, 0.7MB)Judith M. Bovensiepen doi
  5. Reconsidering reintegration: Veterans’ benefits as state-building (PDF, 0.2MB)Kate Roll doi

Part III: Alternative moral economies of prosperity

  1. Expressions of the ‘good life’ and visions of the future: Reflections from Dili and Uatolari (PDF, 0.2MB)Josh Trindade and Susana Barnes doi
  2. Looking back into the future: Temporalities of hope among the Fataluku (Lautém) (PDF, 0.7MB)Susana de Matos Viegas doi
  3. Negotiating ‘darkness’ and ‘light’: Meshworks of fluidity and fire in Baucau (PDF, 0.2MB)Lisa Palmer doi
  4. Misreading the night: The shadows and light of a solar technology (PDF, 0.2MB)Chris Shepherd doi
  5. Christianity and kultura: Visions and pastoral projects (PDF, 0.2MB)Kelly Silva doi


‘This book, unlike much political science analysis of Timor-Leste (although Neves provides an excellent ‘insiders’ political account in this book), goes to the heart and soul of these tensions and the different imperatives that create them. It digs deep into the spirit and psyche of national identity, revealing what lies beneath.’
–Sara Niner, Anthropoligical Forum, 2019
Read the full article on Taylor & Francis Online.

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