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Momentum and the East Timor Independence Movement

The Origins of America’s Debate on East Timor

Shane Gunderson

Momentum and the East Timor Independence Movement: The Origins of America’s Debate on East Timor examines the campaigns by people in the United States on behalf of those seeking peace for East Timor. The diplomatic work of voluntary advisors and supporters living in the United States in the early years of the movement have not been thoroughly explored until now. Through in-depth interviews with twenty activists and intellectuals involved in the East Timor movement from 1975-1999 and qualitative data analysis on information obtained from these interviews, this book explores “momentum” and “turning points” as perceptions in the minds of individual movement actors. The author takes readers through a combination of historical events that shaped social movement actors' attitudes and started a social movement momentum sequence in 1995. The East Timor All Inclusive Dialogue, the Timorization of Indonesia, the public outcries, organizational evolution, and a number of other turning points in the movement represented a series of successes that led to East Timor's independence.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 174Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-0234-4 • Hardback • March 2015 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-4985-0235-1 • eBook • March 2015 • $76.00 • (£49.95)
Shane Gunderson is adjunct professor in communication arts at Florida International University, adjunct professor at Miami Dade College, and visiting professor at DeVry University.
Chapter 1: The Rationality of Social Movement Momentum
Chapter 2: Broken Promises of Non-Interference in East Timor
Chapter 3: The East Timor Debate Comes to Cornell
Chapter 4: U.S. Campaigns of the East Timor Independence Movement
Chapter 5: Turning Points 1980-1992
Chapter 6: The Campaign of 1993-1994: Targeting Catholics
Chapter 7: Intra-East Timorese Dialogue Campaign 1995-1996: Moments of Truth
Chapter 8: Turning Points 1996-1998
Chapter 9: Turning Points 1999
Shane Gunderson. . . .meticulously uncovers who the movers and shakers were within a global network of advocates centered on bringing attention to injustices perpetrated by Indonesia in the former Portuguese colony of East Timor and the international acquiescence or support for that occupation. . . .Momentum and the East Timor Independence Movement is a worth-while read. . . .Gunderson competently tells the story of a band of activists operating diligently toward that singular goal in a new and comprehensive way.
MCU Journal

A valuable contribution to the emerging literature on East Timor and the international solidarity movement which helped to win its independence. Gunderson effectively utilizes a range of novel sources—from interviews with former activists to United Nations records—to tell an important story about how social movements form and sustain themselves in the face of daunting odds.
Brad Simpson, University of Connecticut

Shane Gunderson has done a superb work on the solidarity action on Timor-Leste...a tribute to the many people in the US who took part in the wider, world-wide solidarity movement that contributed in no small way to Timor-Leste's independence.
José Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, former President of Timor-Leste

Shane Gunderson cogently presents a critical social history of the East Timor autonomy movement and the role American activists played in helping the Timorese secure their independence from Indonesia. Based on meticulous archival research and extensive interviews of movement activists, their allies, and public intellectuals, Gunderson skillfully guides readers on a journey beyond massacres and famines, around “turning points,” and across “momentum” shifts to shed new light on how East Timor’s freedom was won. Activists and scholars will find Momentum and the East Timor Independence Movement informative and inspirational.
Robert Benford, University of South Florida

The Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 initiated one of the worst crimes of the post-World War II era. It would be hard to imagine a more unequal struggle than that of the independence movement of the small territory of East Timor confronting the violent and brutal state of Indonesia, with its rich resources and enormous international backing, including the US and its allies. Nevertheless, the courageous resistance of the Timorese and the remarkable work of a small number of activists succeeded in generating substantial opposition to the criminal assault, and finally, in bringing it to an end, far too late but nonetheless a remarkable triumph. Shane Gunderson’s penetrating inquiry into how this near-miracle took place provides a great deal of information that will be new even to those who took part in support for the Timorese, and also provides valuable insight and guidance for everyone who is concerned with crimes of state and how they can be countered by popular mobilization and principled and dedicated engagement.
Noam Chomsky, MIT

• Winner, Stanford Lyman Distinguished Book Award (2015)