Sri Lanka, the ‘Teardrop Isle’, has been under international attention for more than two decades for its ethnic conflict and civil war, and recently, under intense media scrutiny for what seems like a decisive end to the civil war. While the ethnic conflict and the civil war have been the subject of numerous academic and non-academic studies in both the East and the West, there has been no significant research on nationalism, particularly Tamil nationalism, as it manifests itself in Sri Lanka.
Pathways of Dissent: Tamil Nationalism in Sri Lanka endeavors to fill this important academic gap through its collection of ten in-depth essays that present a wide perspective of the subject. The book holistically portrays Tamil nationalism from various disciplinary perspectives like history, political science, international relations, art, literature, sociology, and anthropology. In doing so, it tries to understand the nature of nationalism as it emerges in these areas and adds to the richness and complexity of the problematic.
The significance of this collection is not only its breadth of vision, but also the origins of the hypotheses. The essays cite primary sources from Tamil society and culture that are not usually referred to. It is the first multi-disciplinary collection of essays exploring the state of Sri Lankan Tamils and their nationalistic moorings. The book succeeds in adding further scholarship to the academic debate centered on nationalism, politics, sociology and ethnic conflicts. Academics and readers with a focus on ethnic conflicts, peace studies, nationalism, Tamil politics and society and South Asian history will find the book to be an essential reference source.
Chapter Seven: Making Sense of the Census in Sri Lanka: Up-country Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism
Making Sense of the Census in Sri Lanka: Up-country Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism
Ethnicity in Sri Lanka is often portrayed, especially in relation to ethnic nationalism, as a simple, binary division between Sinhalas and Tamils.1 This dominant ‘bi-polar ethnic imagination’, as Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake (1999: 101) has termed it, ‘constructs Sinhalas and Tamils as mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive of the island's diverse and hybrid communities’, rendering all other groups ‘culturally invisible and politically inconsequential’ to the national imagination. However, the lived experiences of ethnicity on the island are far more complex, presenting internal differentiations, hybridity and multiple and shifting identifications. My aim is to question hegemonic views of ethnicity ...