Oecusse and the Sultanate of Ocussi-Ambeno: Pranksterism, misrepresentation and micro-nationality

University of Malta
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Small States and Territories, 2019, 2 (2), pp. 183 - 194
Issue Date:
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Occussi-Ambeno, a fictional sultanate initially conceived by Aotearoan/ Zealander anarchist artist Bruce Grenville in 1968 and represented and developed by him and others over the last fifty years, is notable as both an early example of a virtual micronation (i.e. a type that does not attempt to enact itself within the physical territory it claims) and as an entity affixed to an entire pre-existent territory (in the case of the Sultanate of Occussi- Ambeno, that of Oecusse on the north-west coast of the island of Timor). The latter aspect is pertinent in that however imaginary the micronation is, its association with a region of a small state raises questions concerning the ethics of (mis)representation. This is particularly pertinent in the case of Oecusse, which was occupied by Indonesian forces in 1975 and had its distinct identity subsumed within the Indonesian state until Timor-Leste (and Oecusse as its exclave) successfully gained independence in 2002. Discussions in the article compare the anarcho- pranksterist impulse behind the creation of the Sultanate of Occussi-Ambeno and its manifestation in visual media – primarily through the design and production of ‘artistamps’ (faux postage stamps) – to related economic and socio-political contexts.
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