Kammen, Douglas, Three Centuries of Conflict in East Timor, US: Rutgers University Press, 2015.
Why does violence recur in some places, over long periods of time? Douglas Kammen explores this pattern in Three Centuries of Conflict in East Timor, studying that island’s tragic past, focusing on the small district of Maubara.
Once a small but powerful kingdom embedded in long-distance networks of trade, over the course of three centuries the people of Maubara experienced benevolent but precarious Dutch suzerainty, Portuguese colonialism punctuated by multiple uprisings and destructive campaigns of pacification, Japanese military rule, and years of brutal Indonesian occupation. In 1999 Maubara was the site of particularly severe violence before and after the UN-sponsored referendum that finally led to the restoration of East Timor’s independence.
The questions posed in Three Centuries of Conflict in East Timor about recurring violence and local narratives apply to many other places besides East Timor—from the Caucasus to central Africa, and from the Balkans to China—wherever mass violence keeps recurring.