Justice and Governance in East Timor: Indigenous Approaches and the 'New Subsistence State', 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Justice and Governance in East Timor

Indigenous Approaches and the 'New Subsistence State', 1st Edition

By Rod Nixon


268 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Focusing on the case study of Timor Leste, this book presents the New Subsistence State as a conceptual tool for understanding governance challenges in countries characterised by subsistence economic and social relations. It examines the ways in which Timor Leste conforms to the typology of the New Subsistence State, taking into consideration geographic, historical and socio-political aspects.

The book defines a New Subsistence State as an overwhelmingly subsistence economy corresponding to little or no historical experience of the generation and administration of large surpluses, with minimal labour specialisation, and the predominance, especially in rural areas, of traditional authority relations. It looks at how these features restrict the capacity of the new state to operate effectively in accordance with the modern state model. The book presents a case for prioritising sustainable approaches to public administration in New Subsistence State contexts.

It goes on to examine the historical role of village justice systems, and demonstrates how a community justice and mediation program building on existing capacities could prove an economical means of promoting human rights values and reducing the burden on the national courts. The book presents an interesting contribution to studies on Southeast Asian Politics and Governance.


"Although a large and specialised literature has now emerged on the East Timor question, Nixon’s doctoral dissertation-turned-book is undoubtedly exceptional for its scholarship and its lessons. With merit, Nixon’s thesis of the New Subsistence State as tested against East Timor should give pause to all development workers intruding in postcolonial environments outside of Western models and experience. Entering print almost ten years following the birth of the new nation, this is a timely book and a must-read for students of East Timor and development workers in general." - Geoffrey C. Gunn, Nagasaki University, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 43:2, 391-396 (2013).

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. States, Weak States and New Subsistence States 2. State Development in East Timor: Geographic and Historical Factors in the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods 3. The Emergence of Politics and Political Conflict: Developments April 1974 to December 1975 4. The Indonesian Period: An Assessment of the Consequences for State Development 5. The Transition to Statehood 6. Governance in a New State 7. Timorese Systems of Justice and Conflict Resolution and the New Subsistence State 8. Conclusion

About the Author

Rod Nixon is an Adjunct Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University, Australia. His research interests include state-building and governance in non-state social contexts, and he has worked as a consultant for clients including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Southeast Asia Series

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of Southeast Asia.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies