Online event “Dynamics of Tamil Urban Ethnoterritories in Diaspora (Kuala Lumpur, Paris and Singapore)”, by Delon Madavan, with Sharika Thiranagama

The South Asia Program of Cornell University has the pleasure to invite you to an online presentation, given by Delon MADAVAN, on “Dynamics of Tamil Urban Ethnoterritories in Diaspora (Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Singapore)” on Monday October 5th at 11.15AM (New York time)/ 5.15 PM (Paris time). Sharika Thiranagama will be the respondent for this presentation.


Studying the ties and practices that bind Tamils to the districts they inhabit or visit is essential to understand not the ways Tamils use and transform space in diaspora. The territorialization of Tamil identity, that is, their spatial extension and the continuation of their socio-cultural practices, is not always immediately visible in multi-ethnic cities in which Tamils are a minority. Tamils transform those spaces where they are dominant according to their own cultural and social practices and establish venues conducive to social interactions. Furthermore, the polarization of space and the dynamics of identity networks explains the various attitudes of Tamils towards the social frequentation of certain areas. Finally, the presence and role of places of sociability, such as religious, cultural or commercial establishments, are essential to understand Tamils’ relationship with locality and thus the reasons for which these districts are recognized -or not- as “Tamil” by Tamils themselves.

With specific examples drawn from fieldworks in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Paris, this paper will show that the affirmation of Tamil identity and the constitution of Tamil ‘ethnoterritories’ in certain areas is not only the outcome of Tamil action but also the consequence of state-sponsored urban planning policies, such as eradication of slums, gentrification and heritagization of specific zones, and the frequentation of these zones by non-Tamil migrants.

Delon Madavan was the Tamil Studies Visiting Scholar at Cornell’s South Asia Program in Spring 2020. He completed his PhD in Geography at Paris-Sorbonne University (France) in 2013. He has taught at the Department of Geography at Sorbonne University and also gave lectures at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) in Paris. Madavan is Researcher Fellow at the Centre of Studies and Researches on India, South Asia and its Diaspora (University of Québec à Montréal, Canada) and Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre of Studies and Researches on India and South Asia (CNRS-EHESS, France). In his research, he examines the articulation between migration, identity and space to analyze forms of integration of the Tamil populations in several cities (Jaffna, Colombo, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Paris & Montréal). Madavan is the author and co-author of several articles and books on Tamils in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and France.


Sharika Thiranagama is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research explores the intersection of political mobilization and domestic life, focusing on highly fraught contexts of violence, inequality, and intense political mobilization. Her major work has been on the Sri Lankan civil war and research with two different minority ethnic groups, Sri Lankan Tamils and Sri Lankan Muslims, exploring the ways in which militancy, political violence and large-scale displacement became folded into intergenerational transmissions of memory and ethnic identification. Most recently, in new fieldwork on Dalit communities in Kerala, South India, she examines how communist led political mobilization reconfigured older caste identities, re-entrenching caste inequities into new kinds of private neighborhood life. She focuses on the household as the prime site of the inheritance of work, stigma and servitude as well as the possibility of reproduction, dignity and social mobility. She is the author of In My Mother’s House: Civil War in Sri Lanka (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Source: SAP, Cornell University

“Gotabaya Rajapaksa, un politicien brutal au seuil du pouvoir sri-lankais” par Vanessa Dougnac

“Il est l’homme lié à l’un des épisodes les plus violents de l’histoire du Sri Lanka et du début du XXIe siècle. Celui qui fut le stratège militaire de l’anéantissement de la guérilla des Tigres tamouls, en 2009, arbore aujourd’hui un sourire jovial sur les posters de la campagne présidentielle. Moustache fournie et crinière cendrée, Gotabaya Rajapaksa a percé parmi un nombre record de 35 candidats et s’est imposé comme l’un des favoris du scrutin qui se déroulera ce samedi 16 novembre.”

via: Le Temps

“Le clan Rajapaksa consolide son emprise sur le Sri Lanka” par L’Obs avec AFD

via: L’Obs

“Sri Lanka elections | Unfair to attribute racist dimension to Tamil vote, says Sampanthan” by Meera Srinivasan

It is unfair to attribute a “racist” dimension to the Tamil vote in Sri Lanka’s presidential election, according to senior Tamil leader R. Sampanthan.

His remark comes a day after the results of the country’s biggest election were declared. The winner — newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa — garnered his 52.25% vote share almost entirely from areas where the majority Sinhalese community is concentrated.

via: The Hindu

“Sri Lanka’s New President Gotabaya: The View From New Delhi” by Devirupa Mitra

From New Delhi, the picture on the Rajapaksas is mixed. There is lingering bitterness over friction in bilateral ties during the last few years of his elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure. But those memories have now been superseded with the difficulty faced with Maithripala Sirisena in pushing flagship Indian projects forward

via: The Wire

“Sri Lanka’s Presidential Election: Healing the Wounds is the New Task” by Pr Jayadeva Uyangoda

Meanwhile, the pressures of big electoral victories are such that the new president and his family members, who will constitute the core of the new regime, might find it difficult to resist the temptation of giving into the wishes of their Sinhalese nationalist constituency. This is particularly so in view of the ethnic polarisation of the electoral verdict.

via: Groundviews

“The Rajapaksas are back in power in Sri Lanka” The Economist

“For nearly ten years the Rajapaksa family ran Sri Lanka. Now, after a five-year hiatus and a bit of a reshuffle, they are back. On November 16th an unprecedented 84% of voters turned out to crown Gotabaya Rajapaksa president, handing him well over half the votes in a crowded field of 35 candidates. Mr Rajapaksa had served as defence chief during the 2005-15 reign of his brother Mahinda. The latter, blocked by the constitution from becoming head of state again, is likely to serve as his younger brother’s prime minister.”

via: The Economist

“BBS to be dissolved after general elections: Gnanasara Thera” by Daily Mirror

The BBS announces that it is dissolving. After Gota’s election, Gnanasara says, “there will be nothing for us to struggle for. We can get involved in our other work and help to work for the betterment of this Sinhala Buddhist country. Now we have the full assurance after electing the new President. The ‘One country one law concept’ in his manifesto gave an assurance to our country.”

via: Daily Mirror

“Activists call on GR to protect democracy, minorities” by Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

With a slightly different outlook towards the days and weeks to follow, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu was of the opinion that instability will not come about if the appointment of a Prime Minister and Cabinet and the dissolution of Parliament can be resolved amicably.

He added that ideally, anyone elected as the Executive President has the power to reconcile the North and the South. “As you know, the Election results have split the country in two, with the minorities going one way and the rest of the country going another,” Dr. Saravanamuttu said, adding that, “If we cannot agree with each other, we will never be able to pursue the path of prosperity that we all say we deserve. We need to have that reconciliation and unity. It cannot become a majoritarian democracy.” Dr. Saravanamuttu added that he hopes President-elect Gotabaya Rajapaksa will recognise the need for reconciliation and unity and take necessary steps to ensure he is the President of all Sri Lankans. Echoing his views, Office on Missing Persons (OMP) Chairman Saliya Pieris said: “The President is the President of the entire country, and whether one supported him or opposed him at the Election, he must be constructively supported in the implementation of his vision for the country, as long as he does so in terms of the spirit of the Constitution.”


“Retour à Jaffna” par FAURE Jean-Paul

Retour à Jaffna c’est le voyage de Lunna, une femme résolue, à la recherche d’un homme qu’elle ne connaît que par sa littérature. C’est aussi une aventure sociale et humaine, une représentation singulière, intime et franche d’un pays encore très mal connu : Sri Lanka.
Lunna  devient responsable des Alliances françaises alors que le pays est en guerre civile depuis plusieurs décennies. Une période de cessez-le-feu et de pourparlers de paix intervient. L’engagement de Lunna la conduit à traverser le territoire pour découvrir Jaffna, une ville en partie détruite. Sur les traces de la culture française, elle recherche les liens et les survivants. Une relation d’estime et d’honneur, peut-être d’amour, la conduit à retrouver Sandana Poninbalham, ancien responsable de l’Alliance française de Jaffna qui a laissé, avant sa disparition, des textes dont elle apprécie le caractère littéraire.

Par l’ancien Directeur des Alliances françaises du Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka related articles in new issue of SOUTH ASIA

South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies is pleased to announce the publication of Vol. 42/4 (August 2019), available via the Taylor & Francis website


Representing the Sportsperson: Television Advertisements and the Evolution of Sports Discourse in India, by Sonal Jha

Sexual Nationalism, Masculinity and the Cultural Politics of Cricket in Bangladesh, by Adnan Hossain

‘An Evil Thing’: Gandhi and Indian Indentured Labour in South Africa, 1893–1914, by Goolam Vahed 

Nehru’s Non-Alignment Dilemma: Tibetan Refugees in India, by Ria Kapoor

‘To Shock the Conscience’: Rhetoric in Death Penalty Judgements of the Supreme Court of India, by Rajgopal Saikumar 

Priceless Enthusiasm: The Pursuit of Shauk in South Asia, by Kirin Narayan and Muhammad Kavesh

Special Section: Lankapura: Sri Lanka and the Ramayana in Historical Perspective 

Guest Editors: Sree Padma and Justin Henry

Introduction. Lankapura: The Legacy of the Ramayana in Sri Lanka, by Sree Padma and Justin Henry 


Explorations in the Transmission of the Ramayana in Sri Lanka, by Justin W. Henry

Borders Crossed: Vibhishana in the Ramayana and Beyond, by Sree Padma

Mapping Lanka’s Moral Boundaries: Representations of Socio-Political Difference in the Ravana Rajavaliya, by Jonathan Young and Philip Friedrich

Ravana’s Sri Lanka: Redefining the Sinhala Nation, by Dileepa Witharana

Reclaiming Ravana in Sri Lanka: Ravana’s Sinhala Buddhist Apotheosis and Tamil Responses, by Pathmanesan Sanmugeswaran, Krishantha Fedricks and Justin Henry

source: AISLS


new teaching module on Adam’s Peak proposed by AISLS

AISLS is pleased to announce the publication on their website of a new teaching module, Teaching about Adam’s Peak.  Designed by Alex McKinley, the module includes background information, a virtual pilgrimage, three videos, and a bibliography for further reading.  It is designed to enable community college and four-year college teachers include Sri Lanka material in introductory courses in World Religions, Cultural Anthropology or Asian Civilizations.
This the fourth teaching module to be available on the AISLS website.  The other units are Teaching about Tea, Teaching about the 2004 Tsunami, and Teaching about the Ramayana.  All modules are designed for community college teachers or others teaching  various introductory courses.
source: AISLS

“Présidentielle au Sri Lanka : le pays rappelle au pouvoir le clan Rajapaksa, connu pour sa brutalité” Harold Thibault

“Sept mois après les attentats de Pâques, le Sri Lanka a fait le choix du sécuritaire et rappelé au pouvoir le clan Rajapaksa, en élisant à la présidence lors du scrutin de samedi 16 novembre l’un des frères, Gotabaya, ancien secrétaire à la défense qui écrasa dans un bain de sang la guérilla tamoule lorsque son aîné, Mahinda, était chef de l’Etat (2005-2015). Selon la commission électorale, il a recueilli 52,25 % des suffrages, devançant largement son rival Sajith Premadasa (41,99 %). M. Premadasa avait reconnu sa défaite un peu plus tôt dimanche.”

via: Le Monde

“Sri Lanka: Gotabaya Rajapaksa Declares Victory Over Ruling Party Candidate” The Wire

“Rabidly anti-Tamil and Islamophobic Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a man accused of war crimes comes to power in Sri Lanka
’70-year-old former wartime defence secretary, the younger brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, has swept the poll with over 60% margins in most Sinhala majority districts while his 52-year-old rival Premadasa has performed well in the minority Tamil-dominated north and east provinces.
Premadasa has garnered over 80% of the vote in Tamil areas, reducing Rajapaksa to less than 5% in some areas in the north….According to observers, with pro-China Rajapaksa in the fray, India is keeping a close watch on the election results as its outcome will have a bearing on the country’s presence in the Indian Ocean region where Beijing is increasingly making its inroads.’

via: The Wire