Flying the Nation’s Colours: Commemorations of the Past and the National Flag of Timor-Leste

  • Catherine E. ArthurEmail author
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


This chapter explores the role of flags in commemorations of the past, the representation of national identities, and their role in imaginings of nationhood. Taking the national flag of Timor-Leste and the Fretilin party flag as case studies, it examines how an historical national identity and heritage can be enshrined in these powerful symbols. Tracing the recent history of the half-island and the Indonesian occupation (1975–1999), these two flags demonstrate the fluid nature of symbols, and how their meanings can be flexible to adapt to changing political circumstances. In the post-independence state, the national and Fretilin flags are two of the most widely recognised symbols of resistance, struggle, and suffering, in light of the recent past, and are thus fundamental markers of contemporary East Timorese nationalism.


Timor-Leste Flags Nationalism Resistance Nation-building Fretilin 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

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