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Teacher's Comment :

Cheong Purun - Goa and East Timor : A comparison of the history of two former Portuguese colonies



Having lived in the US for 11 years, Purun is a close-native speaker of English. Having spent a couple of weeks in East Timor (summer 2005) doing volunteer work, he chose to write a history research paper on East Timor. His plan to revisit East Timor in the summer of 2006 could not be realized because of the political crisis in East Timor; Korean authorities have declared East Timor unsafe.
Purun found sufficient publications on East Timor to develop an understanding of the genesis of the present situation. I suggested to him to compare the recent history of Goa and East Timor, as both were tiny Portuguese colonies which, instead of being released into independence, were annexed by their larger neighbours; such a comparison would insure his paper to being original.
Never having visited India, Purun researched its history, not just using the sources available in our school library and on the internet, as well as a couple of books he acquired from antiquarian booksellers, but also using the stocks of the library of the National Assembly during his summer vacation. He even included books published in Bahasa Indonesia (Statistical Yearbooks) in his list of references.
Goa and East Timor were absorbed by their neighbours by force; Goa has one of the highest growth rates in India, East Timor is independent and in shambles; Purun explains this by the moderate use of physical force when Goa was absorbed into India in 1961 and the autonomous status of the territory. Indonesia, on the other hand, is a centralist state and used unrestrained violence, which created resentment among the East Timorese, who, forced to give up their animist tradition and convert to a book religion, chose Catholicism over Islam (which they identified with the Indonesian oppressors).
Cheong Purun had about a year to work on his research paper. It compares to a third year college presentation, would provide an excellent basis for an academic discussion.


November 8th 2006

Alexander Ganse



Cheong Purun Goa and East Timor : A comparison of the history of two former Portuguese colonies