Accepted Paper:

‘Reaping' the demographic dividend: examining reproduction and population logics in post-conflict Timor-Leste  
Laura Burke (University of Kent)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines reproduction and population in Timor-Leste in the context of the country’s rapid post-conflict population growth. It considers the different population logics at work in shaping ideas about producing the next generation and the value of reproduction.

Paper long abstract:

Timor-Leste experienced a significant loss of life under a 24-year Indonesian occupation, however since independence the country has experienced rapid population growth, due to very high fertility rates. Over 70% of Timorese citizens are currently under 35 years old. National discourses around a capitalising on a 'demographic dividend' and investing in 'human capital' envision the transformation of a youthful post-conflict population into a valuable national resource. Based on ongoing ethnographic research which investigates the meaning and value reproduction in Timor-Leste, this paper explores how local perceptions about creating future generations are tied to both experiences of past conflict and hopes for a better economic future. It further considers how multiple population logics, embedded in national history and visions for the future, come to value reproduction and population growth, in divergent ways.

Panel P31
Coming to life: sovereign births and other reproductive logics