Diaspora Politics and Identity

Encyclopedia of Diasporas

pp 492-500

Tamil Diaspora Politics

  • Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah


The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora consists of some 700,000 people settled in North America, Europe, India, and Australasia. Most members of the diaspora have migrated since the mid 1980s, primarily as a direct or indirect result of an ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka. Like many modern diasporas, the Sri Lankan Tamil community has developed multidimensional linkages that strengthen the nexus between the diaspora and erstwhile homeland, as well as between different diaspora settlements across the world. One of the most notable of these linkages has been the diaspora’s “translocal” political practice (Appadurai, 1995, Appadurai, 1996). The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora has been instrumental in shaping the Sri Lankan political landscape, particularly through its support for and sponsorship of the Tamil nationalist project. During the 1990s, there has been growing interest from scholars and security analysts in the diaspora’s role in supporting and financing the Liberation Tig ...

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