Jalan Avenida: Ideologies and Attitudes in Timor-Leste’s Street Names


Who chose your street name? When? Why? And what does that name mean to you? Almost everyone can think of a story to tell about the streets they’ve lived on or travelled down throughout their lives. In places which have experienced political upheaval or regime change within living memory, changes to street names take on another chapter of those stories.

Jalan Avenida takes this “inexorable part of the streetscape” to tell the ideological story of street naming (and re-naming) in one of the world’s newest nations: Timor-Leste. Using methodologies and theoretical frameworks developed by the SocioLab’s join MILL project, Jalan Avenida traces 400 years of street-naming through disparate data sources, along the following trajectories:

Pre-1975: Portuguese colonial-era maps

1975-1999: Indonesian-era maps and travel narratives

1999-2015: UN documentation and media analysis

2015-current: Street-naming legislation and uptake in the LL

The historical trajectory of the street (re)namings, combined with the chronotopic LL survey, shows that the streetscape is still an unsettled sight of competing ideological pressures, and that the Timorese populace are active participants in the inscription and contestation of social memory.

Contact: Dr. Melody Ann Ross (website)