Timor-Leste's celebrated journey to statehood violently unravelled in 2006, leaving the country's post-independence dream in tatters. Why has the young state stumbled so badly given the overwhelming national consensus for independence and firm international support for reconstruction? This paper seeks to build on the existing scholarship on state-building by introducing the city as the key site of 'internal integration' central to the fortunes of state formation under conditions of globalisation and crisis. Exploring the processes of state-building that took place in Timor-Leste under Portuguese and Indonesian occupation and the role of the international community post-1999, the paper concludes that the donor-scripted state-building model for Timor-Leste was inappropriate, ultimately precipitating urban crisis in Dili and the city's failure to drive state-making and 'internal integration' in the country at large.
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Where state-building went wrong in Timor-Leste
Working Paper No. 32 (series 2), 2008, London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 30 pp.