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Development Alternatives in Timor-Leste: Recasting Modes of Local Engagement

Sam Carroll-Bell
Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
Vol. 171, No. 2/3 (2015), pp. 312-345
Published by: Brill
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43817994
Page Count: 34
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Development Alternatives in Timor-Leste: Recasting Modes of Local Engagement
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Abstract

Despite investing significant resources, the practice of development has struggled to secure positive, long-term outcomes for the people of Timor-Leste. More than a decade on from formal independence, much of the nation's population remains deeply impoverished and many human development challenges persist. This article attempts to answer two questions: First, why has development in Timor-Leste been unable to deliver more observable benefits and outcomes for the population at large? And second, how might development be reconfigured to be more effective? Drawing from statistical information, interviews, and case study material, this article argues that part of the ' problem' lies with development orthodoxy and its incapacity to recognize and adapt to settings where customary systems of local authority, practice, and belief remain important to social cohesion. Indeed, much maybe gained by recasting the way development theory and practice views and interprets such practices, moving away from the idea of a series of cultural obstacles to acknowledging them as deeply embedded systems of meaning which continue to guide various aspects of East Timorese life.

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