Resistance Archives in Post-Colonial Contexts: Reflections on the Timorese Resistance Archive & Museum

Luciana Heymann



The paper proposal is to discuss about the documentary projects nature – archives, museums and / or documentation centers – which aim to recover resistance memories in post-colonial contexts. The starting point of this reflection is the Timorese Resistance Archive & Museum (AMRT), created in 2005 and whose headquarters was inaugurated in 2012, from a joint venture between the East Timor government and Mario Soares Foundation, from Portugal. In the words of its director, Antoninho Baptista Alves “Hamar”, veteran of the liberation war, the AMRT suits “the needs felt by the Timorese society in terms of affirmation of their past and of their own national identity.” The AMRT houses documents and objects gathered from the population in many places around the country, documents from the guerrilla leaders, and objects – like weapons, radios and pans – used by guerrillas during the 24 years of resistance under Indonesian domain (1975-1999).

The AMRT is part of the national identity construction effort in East Timor, a country that gained its independence in 2002. Colonized by Portugal in the sixteenth century, the Timor just end up reconfiguring the Portuguese rule memory after the Indonesian invasion: the Timorese Resistance used the Portuguese language – banned after the Indonesians invasion – and got the Catholic Church support. The paper seeks to reflect on the AMRT’s role as historical, cultural and identity reference for the Timorese people. In addition, will attempt to reflect about the uses of archives and memorial projects in connections to the local policies and projects of power.



I have degree in History, master’s degree in Social Anthropology and PhD in Sociology. At this time, I’m working at the Social Science School in Getulio Vargas Foundation (CPDOC / FGV), who shelters an important collection of public men personal archives and oral history interviews.

I am part of the staffing of the Graduate Program in History, Politics and Cultural Assets of CPDOC, linked to the search area “Memory and Culture”. The program has received students interested in the archives and its social uses, as well as issues related to heritage and memory.

My academic career is closely linked to my professional experience: from the work with archives, I dedicated a sociological thought on these artifacts and the actual work of archivists. In my PhD thesis, I looked into the issue of the social construction of historic “legacies”, analyzing the role of personal archives in the construction projects of outstanding examples.

More recently, I have been interested in the memory of the Brazilian dictatorship period (1964-1985), and the role played by public and private archives in Brazilian Transitional justice. Another recent search field is the memory of resistance in East Timor and the role played by memorial projects, undertaken by the Timorese government, based on archival documents and objects under musealisation process.