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Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts

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Comm. Arts Faculty Member’s New Text Examines Socio-Political Movement

FIU Communication Arts adjunct faculty member Shane Gunderson, PhD has a new book out that sheds light on the power of perception to shape political reality. Momentum and the East Timor Independence Movement: The Origins of America’s Debate on East Timor examines the campaigns by people in the United States on behalf of those seeking peace for East Timor. The diplomatic work of voluntary advisors and supporters living in the United States in the early years of the movement have not been thoroughly explored until now. Through in-depth interviews with twenty activists and intellectuals involved in the East Timor movement from 1975-1999 and qualitative data analysis on information obtained from these interviews, this book explores “momentum” and “turning points” as perceptions in the minds of individual movement actors. The author takes readers through a combination of historical events that shaped social movement actors’ attitudes and started a social movement momentum sequence in 1995. The East Timor All Inclusive Dialogue, the Timorization of Indonesia, the public outcries, organizational evolution, and a number of other turning points in the movement represented a series of successes that led to East Timor’s independence.

Renowned political dissident, pioneering linguist, and MIT faculty member Noam Chomsky lauds Gunderson’s work, saying: “The Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 initiated one of the worst crimes of the post-World War II era. It would be hard to imagine a more unequal struggle than that of the independence movement of the small territory of East Timor confronting the violent and brutal state of Indonesia, with its rich resources and enormous international backing, including the US and its allies. Nevertheless, the courageous resistance of the Timorese and the remarkable work of a small number of activists succeeded in generating substantial opposition to the criminal assault, and finally, in bringing it to an end, far too late but nonetheless a remarkable triumph. Shane Gunderson’s penetrating inquiry into how this near-miracle took place provides a great deal of information that will be new even to those who took part in support for the Timorese, and also provides valuable insight and guidance for everyone who is concerned with crimes of state and how they can be countered by popular mobilization and principled and dedicated engagement.”

A copy of the book can be seen in the “Campus Authors” section of the Barnes and Noble Bookstore on the Modesto Maidique Campus. A special reception for faculty book authors will be hosted by the Office of the Provost and the MMC Barnes and Noble Bookstore on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, from 4:30-6:30pm, at the Bookstore at MMC. All are welcome.

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