Book Launch: Local Governance in Timor-Leste: Lessons in Postcolonial Statebuilding

May 22, 2015

Professor Dennis Shoesmith and Deborah Cummins
Professor Dennis Shoesmith & Deborah Cummins at the book launch.

Charles Darwin University Bookshop
Thursday, 21 May 2015
6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Event Details 
Please join Deborah Cummins for a chat, Q&A and book signing of her new book, Local Governance in Timor-Leste: Lessons in Postcolonial Statebuilding. This is a book about local life, law and governance in the villages of Timor-Leste. It is also a book about what happens when very Westernised systems of governance are imposed on villagers, without taking into account their customary governance, culture and local realities.
As with many other postcolonial nations around the world, Timorese communities are characterised by two systems of law and governance: the law and governance of the state, and customary law and governance which has served Timorese villages for centuries. It is not a question of choosing between one or the other: customary governance, known as lisan or adat, continues to be strong, particularly in the rural areas, even as democratisation takes hold. This is everyday reality for Timorese villagers, who cross daily between these two systems, but is something that organisations engaged in the statebuilding process have found difficult to understand and engage with. Drawing on approximately 5 years’ fieldwork, the author examines some of the implications of this basic reality for those working in communities, and for the statebuilding and development process more generally.

About the author:
Dr. Deborah Cummins is the Founder and Director of Bridging Peoples, an agency focussed on exploring and promoting community-sensitive approaches to development, based in Timor-Leste. Since she first arrived in 2008, she has worked for a variety of development organisations on issues related to local governance and leadership, community development, women’s empowerment, supporting civil society and more. She has also worked as a lecturer and researcher on community development, international development, and public policy at the National University of Timor-Leste and various Australian universities. She has published on a variety of issues in Timor-Leste, including the interaction of customary and state-based governance, community development, democratisation, state- and institution-building, women's leadership and approaches to addressing domestic violence. She lives and works in Timor-Leste.

Local Governance in Timor-Leste: Lessons in Postcolonial Statebuilding

This book is available at the CDU Bookshop at the special launch price of $130.