Nation-Building and the Language Tetralemma. Andre Borgerhoff's Competitive Nation-Building in Timor-Leste

  • Guy Cumes (Autor/in)

Identifier (Artikel)

Identifier (Dateien)


In Competitive Nation-Building in Timor-Leste Andre Borgerhoff examines Timor-Leste in the period 2002–2007 during which political and social division brought the new state to near collapse. He argues that the crisis of this period was associated with the inherently contested nature of nation-building, and this was exemplified by what he identifies as the language tetralemma. His work builds upon literature which argues that nation building, language policy and national identity are fundamental factors which are closely associated with ongoing violence in post-conflict states. This review examines Borgerhoff’s contribution to this literature. It commences with a historical and social overview of the crisis in Timor-Leste and the theoretical context in which it was played out. It then addresses Borgerhoff’s critique of the cause of dissent in Timor-Leste and demonstrates how his work is a significant scholarly contribution to this field of research. The paper concludes by arguing that language policy is a core component of nation-building in post-conflict states and its implementation is a critical element in the establishment of a pluralist democracy.