Tamil Separatism and Commemorative Practices

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

Abstract

This chapter uses the framework of collective memory to interrogate the manner in which the end of the war is being written into the constituent narrative of Tamil nationalism. Describing the historical development of the Tamil separatist movement and the LTTE’s nation-building project—with a particular focus on discourses of victimisation—this chapter acknowledges and explores the organisation’s reliance on commemorative rituals as cultural repertoires of resistance. In the context of the state’s attempted ideological domination of the Northeast, examples serve to illustrate how the suppression of Tamil memory practices and discourses of martyrdom in the post-war period is a central aspect of that domination. While describing the forms of commemoration relied upon by the Tamil people post-war, and the manner in which the state exercises violence and repressive practices to subjugate narratives that contest its official account of the End, it becomes clear that memory is an important site of contestation and power. Archival records of atrocity at the End are few and contested, primarily stored online in images and mobile phone videos archived by journalists, activists and human rights documentary sources. As it fades into the past, the End exists also in the individual and group memory of the Tamil survivors. Here, I make an argument for the effect that memory work can have on the forms of political agency that can now emerge, post-war, post-atrocity and without the LTTE.

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Authors and Affiliations

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

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