Crossing the Line: Informal repatriation and Translocal Relations in Post-Conflict East Timor (16719)
Following the overwhelming vote for national independence in East Timor from Indonesia in August 1999, nearly 250,000 East Timorese were displaced by post-ballot violence across the border into West Timor (part of the Nusa Tenggara Timur Province), Indonesia. While a large number of those displaced resettled in Indonesia after the cessation of their refugee status, there has been a small but steady informal repatriation process to the former homeland. I engage with local narratives of flight, return, and reconciliation in a rural village in Baucau District to highlight how lives are being rebuilt with minimal state assistance in the post-conflict period. Travelling legally and illegally across the East Timor-Indonesia border, returnees maintain close social and economic ties with non-returned family members, reuniting momentarily and separating again to form geographically-extended communities.