Men of Timor

High-ranking Portuguese politician Miguel Relvas visited Dili last week. Relvas’ grandfather José Miranda Relvas was held in Timor as a prisoner during World War II, and his father was apparently born there.

The Portuguese narrative of the War apparently continues to be one of heroic victimization. Relvas was quoted as saying  “Our territorial sovereignty was violated and Portuguese there heroically maintained their position, preserving our values and defending our flag.” Sounds like the colonial koolaid has still not run out!

Anybody who has read Luis Cardoso’s works on the time know that things were a little more complicated, from the Timorese perspective. Highly recommend his Requiem para o navegador solitário.

I found a clip from Damien Parer’s “Men of Timor” available online, and one section particularly intrigued me – skip to 3:27 – the Timorese “fighting their share of the battles their way… frequently releasing a tide of unfortunates…”

World War II Timor continues to be a compelling period – even thinking about rivalries in the present – making me think I should FINALLY at least publish a version of my chapter rather absurdly entitled “The Restless Dead and the Naked Empire”.

If interested in the full version of Parer’s work, you can purchase for the reasonable *cough* sum of £40 here.


6 thoughts on “Men of Timor

  1. Thanks for that James, super interesting. I’m toying with turning this blog into a sort of Tumblr, where I share links and images about pre-75 Timor. What do you think?

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