Political independence and cultural independence

In 2007, the East Timorese Resistance Archive & Museum (AMRT) launched its website. Portuguese historian José Mattoso published a text entitled O Arquivo da Resistência e a Identidade Nacional (here; translated by Bernardo Sá Nogueira).

In his text, José Mattoso signals a risk that threatens recent countries in particular: their political independence might endure while their cultural independence dies out. However, he expects the East Timorese to be as determined in fighting for their cultural identity as they were in their struggle for political independence. 

He recalls that a people’s collective history is the most important component of its identity. And he stresses that the East Timorese must recount the history of their struggle or, at least, carefully preserve its testimonies and archival record.

José Mattoso’s plea is very important indeed. However, besides the period of the Resistance, the East Timorese should also research other periods of Timor’s past (pre-colonial times, Portuguese colonial rule, Japanese occupation, Indonesian occupation, administration by the United Nations).

Only thus will they be able to cement their awareness of their national identity and secure their cultural independence.

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