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Introduction

  • Rachel Seoighe
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Compromise after Conflict book series (PSCAC)

Abstract

Sri Lanka is an island scarred by 30 years of conflict: grief, loss and silence are mapped onto places of destruction and displacement. Empty houses, emptied villages and the rusting ruins of warfare mark the landscape, particularly in the Northeastern Provinces. The island’s young generation grew up in a world of violence. The everyday experience of warfare and state terror defined the lives of the population for decades, impacting in varying force and quality on their lives in a way that was often dictated by ethnicity and place. In the post-war environment, the question of how the war should and can be remembered—by the Tamil community and wider Sri Lankan society—is a contentious one. This book focuses on the mnemonic struggles that are played out every day between the Sri Lankan state and the Tamil people. It asks how the transformation of the conflict from one of open warfare to a victor’s peace is shaped and informed by memories of atrocity and persecutory violence against Tamil civilians. Speaking to the themes of this series, ‘compromise after conflict,’ this book is a study of the end of a long war in Sri Lanka and how the post-conflict space is marked by memory practices that seek to suppress and dominate those of a ‘defeated’ minority community. By exploring the question of memory, and how nationalisms, violence and political agency are entwined and reproduced in those memories, I ask what ‘compromises’ are demanded of the Tamils in post-war Sri Lanka, on what political and emotional terrain those compromises are demanded and how this informs the politics and prospects of reconciliation in a unitary state.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Seoighe
    • 1
  1. 1.Middlesex University, UKLondonUK

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