South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - A Representation of the Imagined Past in Village-Temple Consciousness in Post-War Jaffna, Sri Lanka

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

This paper will investigate how people in Nagueswaram village in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, are using their ‘sense of place’ and ‘place-making practices,’ or what I call here their ‘village-temple consciousness’, to maintain and rebuild their communities after war (1983-2009) to make them, once again, places in which they feel a comfortable sense of belonging. I use here the compound term ‘village-temple consciousness’ to reflect the Tamil word, ur, meaning, at once, a physical village of origin and the sacred, landscape-fixing temples that organize such places as social and physical spaces. Thus, this paper will explain how nostalgia for village-temple consciousness, or nostalgia for ur (village) consciousness and relationships to place, are used in reconstructing communities after the civil war; and show how understanding the village-temple sense of place that underlies social life and its reconstruction in Jaffna requires recognizing the conjunction of the physical and the sacred implied by this compound term. Hence, this paper will describe exactly how sacred village landscapes, as remembered and re-imagined, are helping people maintain, and reconstruct, their general sense of local belongingness by using their memory. In Tamil Sri Lanka the relevant practices of placemaking and belonging happen to be contained within the notion of village-temple consciousness, or consciousness of ūr, because, there, people conceive of home villages as places anchored by temples as ritual and social centers. 

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2 - A Representation of the Imagined Past in Village-Temple Consciousness in Post-War Jaffna, Sri Lanka



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