Rapid change is coming to a few previously isolated rural regions of Timor-Leste following the government’s decision to pursue megaprojects as a national development model. A decade after the nation’s 2002 independence, the sudden availability of oil revenues enabled a national strategic development plan that envisioned dispersed megaprojects as revenue producers for the nation. The two areas primarily affected are Timor-Leste’s south coast, where government programs are forging ahead with onshore facilities for an oil and gas industry, and the Oecusse-Ambeno enclave, which in 2013 was declared the site of a $4.11 billion project with an as-yet-undefined focus for a Special Economic Zone. Public money is now disproportionately spent on infrastructure development in these previously remote regions, for projects with uncertain future trajectories. This talk discusses the causes and effects of this choice of national development strategy, drawing on long-term fieldwork in a location and political context of profound and unexpected change.
Dr. Laura Meitzner Yoder is a political ecologist. Her scholarship engages multiple dimensions of human-environment interaction: agricultural biodiversity, land and forest authorities and access, and how rural land policy affects smallholder farmers and forest dwellers who make their living in marginal conditions.
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Hosted by Yale Council on Southeast Asia Studies.