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This paper explores the relationship between conflict and displacement as dynamics of social change through an examination of the defining features of the Dili crisis – displacement, regional identities, and repertoires of low-level violence. It seeks to show how the Timorese population negotiates new, and at times devastating, realities. One expression of this is the adoption of regional identities during the crisis. It argues that the sometimes violent ‘crisis dynamics’ will bring about profound societal changes that are likely to outlive any political deadlock at the top. This deadlock is typically understood as defining the ‘crisis’. In opening up the scope of what the crisis is about, this paper simultaneously attempts to highlight particular dynamics that are embedded in a liberal framework.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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