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Open Access Indexing social space: A marketplace in Timor-Leste

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Indexing social space: A marketplace in Timor-Leste

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This article shows how space and time indexed social identity in the market place of one of the larger ‘towns’ of Timor-Leste (or ‘East Timor’), Viqueque during the years 1966-1967 and examine their relevance for today’s Viqueque town. The space occupied by the weekly emporium offered a forum in which ethnicity, social hierarchy, gender, a pastime (cockfighting), and religious affiliation visually played themselves out and presented a physical replication of social distinctions that defined the character of the town and the sub-district it served.Focusing on gender, ethnicity, social class, and social identity, and their economic implications, also enables us to gain insight into the process whereby post-colonial nations transform themselves after gaining independence. By comparing the use made of social space at two periods of time separated by four decades during which momentous developments took place in Timor-Leste we can see in sharper relief the kind of changes urban spaces experience when they are subject to colonial authority, pressures resulting from independence, and – ultimately – the tortuous process of nation-building.

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