Archival Science

, 9:29 | Cite as

Memory, records, history: the Records of the Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste

  • Elizabeth NannelliEmail author
Original paper


This paper examines the implications of the context of creation on the current and potential future uses of the records produced by the Comissao de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliacao de Timor-Leste (Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, or CAVR). Given that the CAVR relied heavily on the testimony of the East Timorese people in its investigations that addressed a 25-year period, this paper considers the nature of memory and the role it played in creating and shaping the CAVR records. It also addresses the potential influences of the CAVR records, particularly the final report, Chega!, in shaping what will be known about this period by the Timorese people. The paper concludes with a discussion of the potential role of the CAVR records in contributing to the history of Timor-Leste. Although truth commissions are a problematic form of truth telling, with significant implications for the writing of history, the records of the CAVR are an invaluable source of information for Timorese history. If future users can recognize the CAVR records as the products of the context of their creation, these records will have a critical role to play in the development of history within Timor-Leste.


Truth commissions Memory Timor-Leste Records 



Thank you to Dr. Geoffrey Robinson, UCLA, for his graciousness and kindness in sharing his time and knowledge with me by participating in interviews for this research and in opening my eyes to what life has been like for those living in Timor-Leste.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Culture DivisionMinistry of Education, Sports and CultureApiaWestern Samoa

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