Political Symbols and National Identity in Timor-Leste

  • Catherine E. Arthur

Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Commemorative Symbols

  3. National Heroes

  4. Symbols of Peace and Prosperity

  5. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 239-239
    2. Catherine E. Arthur
      Pages 241-247
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 249-257

About this book


This book explores how national identity has been negotiated and (re)imagined through the political symbols that embody it in post-conflict Timor-Leste. It develops a Modernist approach to nations and nationalism by incorporating Bourdieusian theories of symbolic capital and conflict, to examine how national identity has been constructed and represented in political symbols. Taking case studies of flags, monuments, national heroes, and street art, it critically analyses how a diverse population has interpreted and (re)constructed its national identity throughout the first decade of independence, and how the transition from a context of conflict to peace has influenced such popular imaginings. By examining these processes of identification with a wide range of symbols, the book discusses the numerous challenges that this young nation-state still faces, including victimhood and recognition, democratization and electoral politics, the political role of cosmology and spirituality, and post-colonial generational differences and divisions.

Catherine Arthur is currently an Early Career Researcher. Dr Arthur's research on post-conflict nation-building, identity politics, and symbols particularly focuses on Timor-Leste as a transitional society.


nations nationalism symbols Timor-Leste flags resistance nation-building Fretilin monuments memorials victimhood religion national heroes liberation struggle symbolic capital indigenous cosmology charismatic leadership personality politics Xanana Gusmão democratisation

Authors and affiliations

  • Catherine E. Arthur
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

Bibliographic information