This essay suggests that the East Timorese experience of Indonesian occupation and its aftermath may be more fully understood by exploring the influence of missionary education in the late-colonial Portuguese period. Tracing this influence through the Indonesian period, it examines the case of a Jesuit-established school in which the language of instruction was Portuguese. In this setting, ‘comportment’ was a part of elite formation, taught and assimilated by association. The significance and problems of ‘comportment’ are addressed through this case by discussing its relation to a colonial idea of ‘civilisation’, and in the broader social context of colonial educational reforms and changes in East Timor’s society across the twentieth century.
R. Archer‘Catholic Church in East Timor’ in East Timor at the Crossroads: the forging of a nationeds. P. Carey and G.C. Bentley Social Science Research Council Cassell 1995 p. 128; see also P.A. Smythe ‘The Heaviest Blow’ – The Catholic Church and the East Timor Issue Munster: Lit Verlag 2004 p. 45.
J. BossyChristianity in the West 1400–1700Oxford University Press2010 p. 120. Norbert Elias proposed that texts such as the Galateo determined acceptable norms of comportment including table manners which were intrinsic to state formation in Western Europe. ‘Courtesies’ in the form of ‘civilities’ and ultimately manners in society at large formed around restraints enforced by centralized states in their discouragement of arbitrary behaviour. N. Elias The Civilising Process: The History of Manners and State Formation and Civilisation Oxford: Blackwell 1994 pp. 276; 319; 451. Goody has claimed that Elias’ work is compromised by a non-comparative perspective that implies that ‘civilisation’ has diffused outwards from a Western European centre. J. Goody “The ‘Civilizing Process’ in Ghana” European Journal of Sociology Vol. 44:1 April 2003 pp. 61–73 p. 66.
P. Carey‘Third-World Colonialism, the Geração Foun, and the Birth of a New Nation: Indonesia through East Timorese Eyes, 1975–1999’Indonesia76 Oct. 2003 23–67 p. 80. Abilio Araújo and Nicolau Lobato also wrote against the views of prominent members of the colonial establishment in contributions to the military’s journal ‘A Provincia de Timor’ in 1969 about the significance of traditional marital exchange (Barlaque). A. Araújo 2012. Autobiografia … pp. 83–88.