Tanja Chopra

Dissertation: ‘Clash of Paradigms in East Timor. Introducing Anthropology into State-Building’

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Universität Frankfurt am Main, 30 Juni 2004

With the end of the cold war, international interventions into sovereign states aiming to stop humanitarian emergencies became possible. By the end of the 1990s, such an intervention occurred in its most extreme form: East Timor’s overwhelming vote for independence from Indonesia in 1999 was followed by the total destruction of the infrastructure and government apparatus of the country during the withdrawal of Indonesian troops and pro-Indonesian militias. For the first time in history, the United Nations was mandated as Transitional Administration with full executive, judicial, and legislative powers, as well as sovereign authority over a territory.

The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had a twofold task: the administration of the country and the establishment of institutions for self-governance. UN technocrats from around the world were deployed to reproduce state institutions modelled after the Westphalian State. From an anthropological perspective it came as no surprise that those institutions ‘clashed’ with the ideas and values of local communities. Local Timorese societies maintained their very own definitions on who should have political authority and why, how conflicts should be solved, and how order and security should be guaranteed.

The dissertation describes the paradigmatic contradictions between the internationally promoted model of a Westphalian state and local Timorese ideologies. It further points out some of the distorted outcomes of the ‘modern’ statebuilding exercise. Chapters include a description and analysis of popular elections, the justice and security sector, as well as local governance. The dissertation proposes a more nuanced approach to statebuilding with recognition of local systems and perspectives in order to build a viable state and sustainable peace.

Tanja Chopra has a PhD in Social Anthropology from Johann Wolfgang Goethe – Universität in Frankfurt am Main. Most recently she worked as Regional Women, Peace and Security Adviser for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Office for the East & Horn of Africa. She previously served as Program Coordinator for the World Bank’s ‘Justice for the Poor’ Program in Kenya, with a focus on the linkages between local dispute resolution mechanisms and formal justice systems. As a Social Development Specialist for the World Bank in the West Bank and Gaza she was responsible for mainstreaming gender and social issues into World Bank programs. She has further worked as Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and as Electoral Officer for the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET). She conducted in-depth field research among the societies of Eastern Indonesia, and was a Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, Rhode Island. She has authored and co-authored assessments and research reports for a variety of national and international organisations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), King’s College, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), International IDEA and others, as well as journal articles and book chapters. Most of her work has been on the relation between local socio-political structure and international statebuilding and peacebuilding processes.

Publications

Journal Articles
  • ‘Dispensing Elusive Justice. Kenya’s Judiciary amongst Pastoralist Societies,’ In: Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, Vol 2.1, 2010, pp. 75-94.
  • ‘When Peacebuilding Contradicts Statebuilding: Notes from the Arid Lands of Kenya,’ In: International Peacekeeping, Vol 16.4, 2009, pp. 531-545.
  • ‘Local Governance after Conflict. Community Development in East Timor,’ In: Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, Vol 1.3, 2004, pp. 45-56.
  • With Jarat Chopra, ‘Participatory Intervention,’ In: Global Governance, Vol 10.3, 2004, pp. 289-305.
  • ‘Timor, ou le Malentendu de la Démocratie,’ In: Alternatives Internationales, no. 13, March 2004, pp. 22-25.
  • ‘Justice without Judiciary in East Timor,’ In: Conflict, Security and Development, Vol 3.3, 2003, pp. 335-357.
  • ‘Totem Polls: Indigenous Concepts and ‘Free and Fair’ Elections in East Timor,’ In: International Peacekeeping, Vol 9.3, Dec. 2002, pp. 69-88.
  • ‘The Clash of Paradigms: International Administration and Local Political Legitimacy in East Timor,’ In: Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol 24.3, Dec. 2002, pp. 569-589.
Book Chapters
  • With Christian Ranheim and Rod Nixon, ‘Local Level Justice under Transitional Administration. Lessons from East Timor,’ In: Deborah Isser (ed) Customary Justice and the Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies, United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC, forthcoming (July 2010).
  • ‘Peace Versus Justice in Northern Kenya. Dialectics of State and Community Laws,’ In: Yash Pal Ghai and Jill Cottrell (eds.) Marginalized Communities and Access to Justice, Routledge, 2009.
  • With Edith Bowles, ‘East Timor: Statebuilding Revisited,’ In: Charles Call with Vanessa Wyeth (eds.) Building States to Build Peace, International Peace Institute, New York, 2008, pp. 271-302.
  • ‘Developing Local Governance,’ In: Gerd Junne and Willemijn Verkoren (eds) Post-Conflict Development. Meeting New Challenges, Boulder, CO, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005, pp. 59-72.
  • ‘Clash of Paradigms. International Administration and Local Political Legitimacy in East Timor,’ In: António Marques Bessa, Nuno Canas Mendes, Pedro Conceição and Monica Faro (eds) Timor Leste em Mundança. Ensaios Sobre Administraçao Pública e Local, Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Lisbon, 2004.
  • ‘Delivering Feudal Democracy in East Timor,’ In: Edward Newman and Roland Rich (eds.) The UN Role in Democratisation. Between Ideals and Reality, Tokyo, United Nations University Press, 2004, pp. 302-319.
  • With Jarat Chopra, ‘Participatory Peacebuilding,’ In: Tom Keating and Andy W. Knight (eds.) Building Sustainable Peace, Edmonton, University of Alberta Press, 2004.
  • With Bert Remijsen, ‘Peacemaker for Religious Conflicts? The Value of Pela Relationships in Ambon.’ In: Martin Ramstedt (ed) Hinduism in Modern Indonesia: Hindu Dharma Indonesia between Local, National, and Global Interests. London, Routledge, 2003, pp. 126-143.
  • ‘The Younger Brother Who Comes to Solve the Violence: Local versus International Perception of Conflict Resolution and Political Legitimacy in East Timor,’ In: Wessel, Ingrid and Georgia Wimhoefer (eds.) Violence in Indonesia. Hamburg, Abera Verlag, 2001, pp. 302-316.
Working Papers
  • ‘Justice Versus Peace in Northern Kenya,’ In: Law and Development, Working Paper Series, World Bank, Vol.2.1, 2009.
Assessment Reports, Strategies and other Work
  • Regional Strategy on Women, Peace and Security Interventions, 2010-2014, East & Horn of Africa, UNIFEM Regional Office for East & Horn of Africa, Nairobi.
  • Compendium of Women, Peace and Security Projects, 2000 – 2009, East & Horn of Africa, UNIFEM Regional Office for East & Horn of Africa, Nairobi, forthcoming 2011.
  • With Andrew Harrington, Arguing Traditions: Denying Kenya’s Women Access to Land Rights, World Bank / Justice for the Poor, Research Report 2, 2010.
  • With Susan Pologruto and Timotio De Deus, Fostering Justice. Evaluation of USAID Rule of Law Program in Timor-Leste, Report submitted to USAID/Timor-Leste, January 2009.
  • With Bonita Ayuko, The Illusion of Inclusion. Women’s Access to Rights in Northern Kenya, Research Report, Justice for the Poor/Kenya and Legal Resource Foundation, Nairobi, December 2008.
  • Reconciling Society and Judiciary in Northern Kenya, Research Report, Justice for the Poor/Kenya and Legal Resource Foundation, Nairobi, December 2008.
  • Building Informal Justice in Northern Kenya, Research Report, Justice for the Poor/Kenya and Legal Resource Foundation, Nairobi, December 2008.
  • With Nithya Nagarajan, Country Social Assessment. West Bank and Gaza, Social Development Unit, The World Bank, Final Report presented to The World Bank, 2006.
  • Local Socio-Political Structures and Community Justice. Research Report, The World Bank, West Bank and Gaza Office, Final Report presented to the World Bank, 2005.
  • Local Socio-Political Structures and Local Governance. Research Report, The World Bank, West Bank and Gaza office, Final Report presented to the World Bank, 2005.
  • With Sofi Ospina, Traditional Power Structures and Local Governance in East Timor: A Case Study of the Community Empowerment Project (CEP), etudes courtes no 5, Geneva, Graduate Institute of Development Studies, December, 2002.
  • With Sofi Ospina, Traditional Power Structures and the Community Empowerment and Local Governance Project (CEP), Final Report presented to the World Bank and UNTAET, Dili, June 2001.
Briefing Notes
  • ‘Legal Aid Days as Research Tool. Experiences from Northern Kenya,’ World Bank, Justice for the Poor Briefing Note 2.4, September 2008.
  • ‘Promoting Women’s Rights by Indigenous Means. An Innovative Project in Kenya,’ World Bank, Justice for the Poor Briefing Note 1.2, July 2007.
  • ‘Oil on the Water – The Resilience of Traditional Leadership in East Timor,’ In: RIAP Update No. 6, March 2002.