This site brings together the publications of Dr. Sara Niner about people & politics in Timor-Leste.

20 October, 2009

Xanana Biography is attempt at a fair and objective historical account

I’ve had my first comment from Timor about the biography but really it was a comment about Xanana. My correspondent thought that while Xanana had been a hero of the resistance, his more recent performance was not so heroic.

It prompts me to make the point that book essentially is about Xanana's leadership of the resistance from the early 1980s to 1999 and there is only an ‘Afterword’ about all the complex domestic politics since 2000. Throughout the book I have tried to be fair and objective and included the many sides to internal politics in East Timor. However as it is a biography of Xanana it does focus on his perspective and actions as leader. I see this book as part of the first attempts to set down the historical record which is a very hard thing to do in East Timor because so much is contested.

I am fully expecting many people to disagree with my account (even Xanana may not agree with some of my findings) but that is the nature of history. I sincerely hope it does spark interest and intellectual debate but in a calm and considered way which is not divisive.

I am hoping to get some copies to Dili soon and hope to get copies into the UNTL University Library and at the Xanana Gusmao Reading Room, possibly even some for sale there. I also hope one day to have Indonesian and Tetun, even Portuguese translations. That’s the next project and any willing publishers or translators are encouraged to contact me.

Best wishes


Xanana as student in 1960s

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