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Challenge the Strong Wind: Canada and East Timor, 1975–99

In 1975, Indonesian forces overran East Timor, just days after it had declared independence from Portugal. Canadian officials knew the invasion was coming and initially endorsed Indonesian rule. The ensuing occupation of the Southeast Asian country lasted twenty-four years. Challenge the Strong Wind recounts the evolution of Canadian government policy toward East Timor from 1975 to its 1999 independence vote. During this time, Canadian civil society groups and NGOs worked in support of Timorese independence activists by promoting an alternative Canadian foreign policy that focused on self-determination and human rights. After following the lead of pro-Indonesian allies in the 1970s and ’80s, by the 1990s Ottawa had yielded to pressure from these NGOs and began to make its own decisions, eventually pushing like-minded countries to join it in supporting Timorese self-rule.

Challenge the Strong Wind at UBC Press | on google books

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Flowers in the Wall: Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, and Melanesia

What is the experience of truth and reconciliation? What is the purpose of a truth commission? What lessons can be learned from established truth and reconciliation processes? Flowers in the Wall explores the experience of truth and reconciliation Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, with and without a formal truth commission. Although much has been written about the operational phases of truth commissions, the efforts to establish these commissions and the struggle to put their recommendations into effect are often overlooked.

Examining both the pre- and post-truth commission phases, this volume explores a diversity of interconnected scholarship with each chapter forming part of a concise narrative.

Flowers in the Wall at University of Calgary Press | FREE DOWNLOAD OF ENTIRE BOOK.


FireFire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World

Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World (University of British Columbia Press, 2009) focuses on Canadian-Indonesian relations to explore a larger question: Was Canada’s postwar foreign policy guided by an overarching set of altruistic principles, or did its policy objectives in the South follow a different path? It frames Canada’s response to the Indonesian struggle for independence in the context of other regional decolonization movements and US and Commonwealth relations with Asia and shows that Canada operated as a loyal member of the Western alliance, hoping that Indonesia would follow Canada’s own, non-revolutionary, model of decolonization and development. Canadian economic development policies caused Canada to overlook Indonesian human rights violations in East Timor.

Fire and the Full Moon at UBC Press | on google books

ETTEast Timor: Testimony

I acted as collection editor for East Timor: Testimony (Between the Lines, 2004) which (in the publisher’s description) “presents the whole gamut of a people’s history, culture, and aspirations. Nine authors, including renowned investigator Noam Chomsky, have contributed original essays. Sixty-four of photographer Elaine Briere’s eloquent photos, richly reproduced as duotones, form the core of this haunting, informative book.”

East Timor Testimony at Between the Lines Books

Scholarly articles

can be found via my academia.edu page or my user page on google scholar. Open-access publications include:

  • “Languages of Human Rights in Timor-Leste,” Asia Pacific Perspectives 11.1 (2013) – the pdf version is here.
  • “Canadian Catholics and the East Timor Struggle, 1975-99,” Historical Perspectives (Canadian Catholic Historical Association) 75 (2009) – click here for a pdf of the entire journal 
  • “Modern Missionaries: Canadian Postwar Technical Assistance Advisors in Southeast Asia,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 20.3 (2009) – pdf via erudit is here

Full text of selected articles in self-archived post-print accepted version or publisher pdf:

Selected self-archived book chapters in post-print version:

Refereed encyclopedia entry: “Keenleyside, Hugh Llewellyn” in IO BIO, Biographical Dictionary of Secretaries-General of International Organizations, edited by Bob Reinalda, Kent J. Kille and Jaci Eisenberg, www.ru.nl/fm/iobio.

Peer-reviewed publications not currently available online:

  • “Human Rights: Across the Pacific Both Ways,” in Akira Iriye and Robert David Johnson, eds., Asia Pacific in an Age of Globalization (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).51JAOkFmDFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
  • “Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, and Decolonization,” in Karen Dubinsky, Sean Mills, and Scott Rutherford, eds., Canada and the Third World: Overlapping Histories (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016).
  • David Webster and Sarah Zwierzchowski, Webster Zwierzchowski, Ecumenical Coalitions Historical Studies 81 (2015): 73-96.
  • “Self-Determination Abandoned: The Road to the New York Agreement on West New Guinea (Papua), 1960-62,” Indonesia (Cornell University) no. 95 (April 2013): 9-24.
  • John Meehan and David Webster, “A Deeper Engagement: People, Institutions, and Cultural Connections in Canada-China Relations,” introduction to special issue on Canada-China relations of the Journal of American East Asian Relations 20 no. 2-3.
  • “Petrolio, Imperi e Nazionalismo Economico: il Saskatchewan e l’Indonesia a confront, 1944-1963” [“Oil, empire and economic nationalism in Saskatchewan and Indonesia, 1944-63,”] 900: Per una storia del tempo presente (Italy) no. 4 (2011): 59-83.
  • John Meehan and David Webster, “From King to Kandahar: Multilateralism and Conflict in the Pacific, 1909-2009,” Canada Among Nations 2008: 100 Years of Canadian Foreign Policy, eds. Robert Bothwell and Jean Daudelin (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009).
  • Geoffrey Hainsworth, Sarah Turner, and David Webster, “Indonesia’s democratic struggle:Reformasi, otonomi and participasi,” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 48 (2007): 41–46.
  • “Dari Sabang sampai Merauke: Gerakan Pemisahan Nasionalis di Indonesia” [“From Sabang to Merauke: Nationalist Separation Movements in Indonesia,”] in Drama Indonesia: Ketidakpastian di Tengah Globabalisasi [Indonesian Drama: Uncertainty in a Globalizing World] eds. Geoffrey Hainsworth and Bakti Setiawan (Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Gadjah Mada University Press, 2006).
  • “Colonial Rhetoric: The Dutch East Indies and Indonesian East Timor,” Brock Review 7 no. 1-2 (1998/99): 101-18.

Occasionally, I write for the East Timor Action Network ETAN Action blog, activehistory.ca or the monthly West Papua Report. Prior to academia I worked in journalism including coverage of international human rights issues. A 1994 piece on Chiapas and a 2000 article on West Papua are examples. My earliest op-ed for a daily paper was on East Timor in 1992 for the Toronto Star and can be accessed via the Archives and Museum of the Timorese Resistance online collection. I continue to comment on international human rights issues, for instance as part of the Asia Pacific Foundation’s National Conversation on Asia.

Recent articles and blog posts:

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