Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1461-0213
  • E-ISSN: 1570-5595



This article reveals how center-periphery relations have unfolded, over time, in language policy processes in one nation – Timor-Leste – on the global periphery. We take a perspective on the language policy processes at work in this historical context, showing how different regimes of language were imposed, in the past, by colonisers from distant centers – in Portugal and then in Java, Indonesia. Then, turning to the post-independence period, we show how a new order of indexicality, forged within the Resistance to the Indonesian occupation, formed the basis for current language policy in Timor-Leste, with Portuguese and Tetum as co-official languages. We also demonstrate that this agentive policy move, from the global periphery, oriented Timor-Leste to new and more complex center-periphery relations, to a ‘lusophone’ world, with Portugal and Brazil as key players. Our account of contemporary policy discourses in Timor-Leste, and of the consequences for language policy implementation, on different scales (national and local), draws on recent research of an ethnographic and multi-scalar nature conducted in Timor-Leste (Da Costa Cabral, 2015).

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): center-periphery dynamics; language ideologies; language policy; multilingual
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