Whose Culture and Heritage for Whom? The Limits of National Public Good Protected Area Models in Timor Leste

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The issue of cultural sovereignty continues to be a prominent one in Timor Leste, which is now liberated from Indonesian rule. Out of the ashes of recent history, various ethnic groups are increasingly demanding their own cultural space and authority within the fledgling nation-state, as the conflicts following independence amply demonstrated. It is within this context that we wish to discuss the declaration of Nino Konis Santana National Park, the first national park in Timor Leste. This paper will examine fundamental issues with the concepts of “national heritage,” public good, protected area models and the assignment of cultural and natural heritage values to the park. At the time the Nino Konis Santana National Park was first proposed, reports emphasized the natural values of the park to the neglect of cultural values (see Trainor et al. 2003; Whistler 2001). Since the 1970s, this has become a common ideal worldwide where nature is viewed as a biodiversity bank which must be preserved at all costs (Katz 1998; Luke 2003; Pannell 2006b, 13). However, the Nino Konis Santana National Park contains six villages and is home to over fifteen thousand people. In every regard it constitutes an area where over time, the interaction of people and nature has produced a landscape with significant cultural value. Research shows that this area contains “manifestations of unique [and] traditional land use patterns and social organizations as evidenced in human settlements, local customs, livelihoods, and beliefs” (IUCN 1994, 22).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRethinking Cultural Resource: Management in Southeast Asia
    Editors John N. Miksic, Geok Yian Goh and Sue O’Connor
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherAnthem Press
    ISBN (Print)9780857283894
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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