The Different Linguistic Identities and National Identity of Timor-Leste

Author: Karin Noemi Rühle Indart (Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e, The Philippines)
Speaker: Karin Noemi Rühle Indart
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


In order to observe the construction of a collective and secondary identity in the Timorese context, we based this study on texts of Dubar (1997) and Bauman (2003, 2005 and 2010). In this article we discuss the different linguistic groups coexisting in the Timorese education system and how this identity heterogeneity affects the development of the national identity, considered necessary for the construction of the Timorese State, presenting the partial result of the doctoral research in which it was proposed to analyze the mentioned object. To this end, we analyzed the discourse of managers in the macro-dimension of education (former ministers and directors of the Ministry of Education, former deans and deans of Timor Lorosa’e National University). Those managers are responsible for defining language policies and its implementation. We find in the analysis of the interviews the description of three distinct groups represented by three generations, who have their linguistic identity built in different nonmaternal languages. Each of the groups reacts differently to the unification of the Timorese nation through the Portuguese language, as idealized by educational managers.

We find a much greater attitude of accommodation by the post-independence educated generation to the ideal of the generation educated in colonial times, whereas for the intermediate generation, educated in Indonesian, the new national identity seems to represent a rather high cost, both from a personal point of view as a professional, and it is important to understand the implications of this cost in the area of identity, on the one hand, and on a political-educational level, on the other.


BAUMAN, Z. (2000). Em Busca da Política, tradução de Marcus Penchel. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Ed.

BAUMAN, Z. (2005)  Identidade, tradução de Carlos A. Medeiros. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Ed.
BAUMAN, Z. & MAY, T. (2010). Aprendendo a Pensar com a Sociologia, tradução de Alexandre Wernek. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Ed.
DUBAR, C. (1997). A Socialização: construção das identidades sociais e profissionais. Porto: Porto Editora.

Keywords: Timor-Leste, Linguistic Identities, National Identity