South Asia

Organized Panel Session

‘The Other’ in (Emerging) Self-understandings: Representations of Imagined Pasts, Geographies, and Genealogies in Post-War Sri Lanka

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Silveroak II, Ground Floor

Notwithstanding the geographical boundaries, Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-religious island. Invasions from the neighboring country India, trade relations, contacts with other Buddhist countries, together with the presence of European colonizers all have contributed to its diversity. Sri Lanka’s civil war (1983-2009) bears witness to the post-independence struggle to deal with its diverse population.


In general, it is the presence of and contact with the other that gives rise to questions of identity, or according to Seneviratne: “[o]ne mechanism by which an ethnic or national group awakens a consciousness of identity is the perception of a threat to the group by a force external to it.” (Seneviratne, 1999, 5). In super diverse Sri Lanka self-understandings and identities are constantly shaped and reshaped in contact with and contrast with the other: the other being a(n) (imagined) threatening force from outside the country (such as neighbouring countries), from within the country (specific ethnic or religious groups), or based on intra-group diversities. The recent demolition of Muslim sacred sites demonstrates the contemporary demonization of the Tamil Muslims (Moors) as the (imagined) threatening other by some Sinhalese Buddhists (McGilvray, 2016, 59-61).


This panel will discuss a diversity of emerging representations of pasts, geographies, and genealogies as part of multiple (emerging) self-understandings and identities in Sri Lanka. By bringing together a range of recent representations with a special focus on the role of ‘the other’ this panel aims to discuss and evaluate the challenges of identity construction within a multi-ethnic nation.

Send Email for Deborah Dirkje Cornelia de Koning

Send Email for Elizabeth. J. Harris

Send Email for Elizabeth. J. Harris

Send Email for Pathmanesan Sanmugeswaran

Send Email for Premakumara de Silva

Send Email for Deborah Dirkje Cornelia de Koning


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‘The Other’ in (Emerging) Self-understandings: Representations of Imagined Pasts, Geographies, and Genealogies in Post-War Sri Lanka



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