Spatialising Politics: Culture and Geography in Postcolonial Sri Lanka brings together essays on the theme of spatial politics of Sri Lanka. Space is an important factor in the ongoing ethnic conflict fuelling Sri Lanka's continuing civil war. Claims and contestations over the integrity of island space and the control of northern and eastern territories are central to the violently contested dispute. The editors view space from a different perspective. They argue that space is important through a number of registers less frequently invoked in dominant approaches to understanding postcolonial Sri Lankan nationhood, identity and difference. The book examines and historicizes the role of spatialities often occluded within the debates on Sri Lankan politics such as, cities and built-space, diasporic productions and imaginations, commodity cultures and their concordant networks, knowledge spaces and ‘foreign’ intervention, landscape and sacred space, as well as geographical knowledge.
Situated at the intersection of human geography and postcolonial studies, the book signals the ways that postcolonialism and geography are intimately linked and how their intersections evoke the social, spatial and political effects of enduring colonial discourse and representation. In developing its argument, Spatialising Politics also gestures towards alternative spatial imaginations, possibilities and representations, at a time when spaces for alternative discourses on Sri Lankan politics are fast shrinking.
Chapter 8: Rebuilding Lives, Undermining Oppositions: Spaces of War and Peace in the North
Rebuilding Lives, Undermining Oppositions: Spaces of War and Peace in the North
The way that the Sri Lankan separatist struggle is conceived, discussed, and acted upon by the main parties has constructed an understanding of Sri Lankan society and geography in binary oppositions between Tamils and Sinhalese, the LTTE and government forces, Colombo and Jaffna. The amount of attention given to these binaries in the larger discourse on the ‘conflict’ privileges the war and the warring parties. Despite these binary geographical imaginations I would like to perceive the conflict in this chapter as a separatist-sovereignist struggle that is one among many processes through which the postcolonial nation-state—including the position of ethnic groups within it—is ...