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

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

Rapport parlementaire sur les attaques de Pâques 2019

Le Parlement de Sri Lanka vient de faire paraître son rapport sur les responsabilités des services de sécurité sri-lankais dans les attentats de Pâques. Ce rapport confirme ce qui était suggéré dès après les attentats, à savoir la non-transmission à la police par les services secrets sri-lankais des informations fournies par les services secrets indiens d’une attaque imminente contre des églises et des hôtels, et la rétention par ces mêmes services d’informations concernant le groupe extrémiste musulman à l’origine des attentats.
Le rapport suggère que “de nouvelles investigations seront nécessaires pour comprendre si des personnes ayant des intérêts personnels n’ont pas agi consciemment de sorte à créer le chaos et l’incertitude dans le pays dans la perspective des élections présidentielles devant se dérouler plus tard dans l’année”. Sans le dire explicitement, l’allusion vise Gotabhaya Rajapakse, dont les liens avec les services secrets de l’armée sont bien connus, et dont l’appui constant aux organisations bouddhistes anti-musulmanes a contribué à attiser la violence en retour des extrémistes musulmans. La parution de ce rapport à quelques jours des élections n’est évidemment pas fortuite, et son contenu soulève suffisamment de questions pour qu’il soit versé au dossier


“Compte rendu de l’exposition « Visages de la baie du Bengale » de V. P. Vasuhan” par Alain Cardenas-Castro et Christophe Comentale

L’exposition des œuvres de V. P. Vasuhan a eu lieu du 1er au 27 septembre 2019 à la Galerie Impressions les mercredis de 18 à 21h et les samedis de 14 à 19h.

Le mois de septembre est propice aux retours des événements culturels et des expositions. La galerie Impressions inaugure cette rentrée avec un accrochage singulier intitulé « Visages de la baie du Bengale ». L’exposition propose le regard de deux peintres sur l’état du monde à travers leurs cultures respectives, l’un du Bengladesh et l’autre du Sri-Lanka, V. P. Vasuhan, qui fait l’objet de cette livraison.

via: Sciences & Art contemporain

“Sri Lanka election: Northern Tamils know who they don’t want in power” by Meera Srinivasan

As many as 35 candidates are running for President in Sri Lanka’s November 16 election, but northern Tamils view it as a two-cornered fight between Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa. And they know who they don’t want in power.

via: The Hindu

“In War’s Aftermath, Tamils Are Haunted By Hope For Relatives’ Return” Amrita Chandradas

In the past 30 years, some 60,000 to 100,000 Sri Lankans have disappeared, Amnesty International reports. Ethnic and religious tensions have always been a part of Sri Lanka’s history, which includes a decades-long war between government security forces and Tamil Tiger separatists that ended in 2009.

Photographer Amrita Chandradas, an Indian Tamil who was born and raised in Singapore, traveled to Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and nearby Neduntheevu island (also called Delft Island) to document disappearances among Sri Lankan Tamils.


“Freed Sri Lanka Buddhist monk vows to expose Islamist militancy” Reuters

“Gnanasara was convicted in 2018 on four counts of contempt of court. The case stemmed from a 2016 court hearing on the abduction of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda over which military intelligence officials were accused.

Gnanasara shouted at the judge and lawyers because the military officials had not been given bail. He also threatened Eknaligoda’s wife.”


“For Sri Lanka’s Bickering Leaders, Election Hopes Dim After Terrorist Attack” New York Times

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Even before the coordinated bombings that killed 250 people last month, Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister were in trouble — largely of their own making.

Now calls for President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to step aside when their terms are over, if not before, are mounting from opposition groups as well as from the ranks of their own parties.


“Showdown in Sri Lanka: PM’s sacking sparks constitutional crisis” France 24 Debate

Regional players China and India are keeping close tabs on the Sri Lankan president’s decision to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replace him with the country’s longtime strongman, Mahinda Rajapaksa. But Sri Lanka continues to have duelling prime ministers. We look into the cause and the legality of the recall, a test for the nation’s democracy. It was on Rajapaksa’s watch that a civil war ended with the crushing of Tamil Tiger rebels. Could the turmoil in Colombo reopen wounds?



Former Governor of the Eastern Province


Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center


Research Associate, Centre for Studies on India and South Asia


Sri Lanka Project Director, Crisis Group

Online Museum of Memory and Coexistence

The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is pleased to launch its online Museum of Memory and Coexistence.  The museum will seek to celebrate diversity, coexistence, resilience and solidarity, while archiving social exclusion, loss, and personal trauma. 

​​It​ is part of a larger ICES initiative to explore the use of arts, and physical and digital spaces, to facilitate social healing, archive narratives of the past, and build creative spaces for talking about a shared future and non-recurrence.

“Témoin des violences civiles survenues à Colombo à la fin du mois de juillet 1983” par Vincent Faugère

Ces photos ont été prises à Colombo à la fin du mois de juillet 1983, dans le secteur de la gare ferroviaire. A cette époque, je voyageais, avec mon père, à Sri Lanka et dans le sud de l’Inde. J’avais 15 ans. Nous étions arrivés dans l’île le 2 juillet, par avion, en provenance de Paris. Au début de ce même mois, nous étions à Weligama quand nous avons été victimes du vol de nos papiers. Nous avons ainsi dû revenir à Colombo, et ce à plusieurs reprises, pour des raisons administratives.
Un journal de bord, tenu durant ce voyage, me permet de retracer en toute petite partie les événements dont nous avons été témoins pendant ces quelques jours. La situation était confuse et il ne m’en reste que de lointains souvenirs. Une chose est sûre : la ville était en proie à des violences. Un couvre-feu était décrété. Des Tamouls étaient tués et des trains bondés fuyaient la capitale.
Lundi 25 juillet. Nous arrivons en train dans la gare de Colombo-Fort envahie par la foule. Dehors, des incendies toujours en cours témoignent des violences commises à l’encontre des Tamouls. Tous les commerces sont fermés. Un couvre-feu est décrété et nous sommes contraints de rester et de dormir dans la gare, ce que nous ferons également les jours suivants.
Mardi 26 juillet. Toute la ville est déserte et silencieuse. On peut voir des échoppes et des bâtiments mis à sac, détruits, brûlés.
Mercredi 27 juillet. La vie reprend partiellement. Des queues se forment devant les quelques magasins ouverts. Il est très difficile de trouver de quoi se nourrir. Vers 15 heures, toutes les boutiques ferment et les rues se vident de nouveau. De même, la gare est presque déserte.
Jeudi 28 juillet. Dans la matinée, la gare est envahie par la foule. Aux alentours de 10 heures, sept Tamouls sont tués à coup de pierre par des civils et leurs corps sont mis à feu devant des milliers de spectateurs impassibles. L’Armée et la Marine interviennent et font évacuer la gare. Vers 15 heures, nous sommes interpellés par la police, ainsi qu’un groupe de touristes de six nationalités qui a, comme nous, trouvé refuge dans la gare. Les forces de l’ordre nous réclament les pellicules de nos appareils photos. Face à notre refus, nous sommes emmenés au poste de police. Nous réussissons à dissimuler une partie de nos pellicules. Nous sommes finalement transportés en camion, avec  quatre personnes tamoules, dans un camp de réfugiés. On nous sert un repas et nous repartons aussitôt. Nous roulons dans la ville déserte. Les quatre Tamouls sont déposés, pour la nuit, dans un collège catholique. Quant à nous, nous sommes conduits jusqu’à une auberge de jeunesse, dans le quartier de Bambalapitiya.
Vendredi 29 juillet. Nous sommes de retour à la gare de Colombo-Fort vers 7 heures. Dans la matinée, on assiste à d’importants mouvements de foule. Les gens courent dans les rues et fuient un danger qui reste invisible. On entend des coups de feu au loin. Des soldats et des policiers patrouillent devant la gare. Il se dit qu’un commando tamoul prépare une attaque. Mais aucun assaut n’a lieu. Nous quittons Colombo en train ce jour-là, en direction de Negombo.
Voilà ce que je peux dire aujourd’hui de ces quelques jours passés à Colombo lors de ce Juillet Noir. Nous avons poursuivi notre voyage dans l’île jusqu’à la fin du mois d’août, sans incident grave, en essayant d’éviter les zones de tension. A plusieurs reprises cependant, nous avons été arrêtés par des militaires et des policiers qui braquaient leurs armes sur nous. Dans les villes, le couvre-feu était souvent de rigueur. Durant ce séjour, nous nous sommes également rendus dans le Tamil Nadu indien, en avion depuis Colombo, les liaisons par mer depuis Talaimannar étant coupées.
Vincent Faugère
Copyright pour toutes les photographies : Vincent Faugère

“unpublished photographs taken by a French tourist during the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983” by Vincent Faugère

We warmly thank Vincent Faugère for allowing us to upload unpublished photographs he took during the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983. Vincent Faugère came with his father to visit Sri Lanka in July 1983. He was then 15 years old. It happened that Vincent and his father were in Colombo when Tamil people were killed and chased from the town.

The photographs Vincent shares here were shot between july 26th and 29th, 1983, around Colombo railways station. He knows that from the travel notebook he had been writing  at this time.
Copyright for all photographs : Vincent Faugère

Projection/débat autour du court-métrage “Unlock”, dimanche 6 mai à 18h, Grand Rex

Le court-métrage “Unlock”, réalisé par Nirmalan Nadarajah, qui sera projeté au Grand Rex ce dimanche 6 mai à 18h en présence du réalisateur et du comédien Shobasakthi.
Pour information, vous trouverez ci-joints une affiche, une bande-annonce et un lien vers la page du film

“Sri Lankan corporals arrested on Sri Lankan corporals arrested on anti-Muslim riot charges Reuters charges” by Reuters

Sri Lankan police have arrested two army corporals for their suspected involvement in anti-Muslim riots in the central highlands district of Kandy last month, police said on Tuesday.


“Weaponising 280 characters: What 200,000 tweets and 4,000 bots tell us about state of Twitter in Sri Lanka” by Sanjana Hattotuwa, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and Raymond Serrato

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has released a report on social media, “Weaponising 280 characters: What 200,000 tweets and 4,000 bots tell us about state of Twitter in Sri Lanka”. The report is available for immediate download here.
The report is a collaboration between Sanjana Hattotuwa, a Senior Researcher at CPA and the head of the Civic Media Team and two leading data scientists – Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, based in Sri Lanka and Raymond Serrato, based in Germany. It is a response to an unprecedented social media phenomenon in Sri Lanka, with disturbing as well as potentially deeply disruptive implications for the health of the country’s democratic dialogue and electoral processes.
The recent violence in Kandy brought social media under renewed scrutiny for its role, reach and relevance in contributing to the production and spread of violent, hateful content. Starting late March, weeks after the cessation of the violent attacks, Twitter users began noticing a tsunami of accounts with no bios, no tweets and the default profile picture following them. Several fake Twitter accounts were identified to be promoting false or misleading content during the violence in Kandy. This, coupled with the heightened production of suspicious Twitter accounts raised red flags amongst Twitter users.
Given the scale and scope of the infestation, CPA’s English language civic media platform Groundviews, for the first time in the Sri Lankan Twittersphere, took the step of making public its block list, which other users could import. Even this measure though was not enough to address the high frequency with which new, fake accounts were being created, attaching themselves to prominent Twitter users in Sri Lanka. A preliminary analysis of 1,262 accounts, a subset of the larger dataset used for this report, indicated that the majority of suspicious accounts following Twitter users were bots.
A visualisation of the number of accounts targeted by the bots revealed that leading diplomats, Ambassadors based in Sri Lanka, the official accounts of diplomatic missions, leading local politicians, the former President of the Maldives, media institutions, civil society organisations and initiatives, leading journalists, cricketers and other individuals were amongst those who had large numbers of bot followers.
Considering bots are now a permanent feature of Sri Lanka’s Twitter landscape and will likely grow in scope and scale leading up to elections or a referendum, it is important to ask how to address the issue at scale, given the number of citizens – directly connected as well as influenced by those connected – involved.
Even with its limited scope and data, this report is a clear snapshot of the political landscape we now inhabit, and projects in the future real dangers that result from just the visible investments made around key social media platforms, which are today the key information and news vectors for a demographic between 18-34.
This report by CPA follows the path-breaking data driven study into the bots and trolls associated with a prominent politician in Sri Lanka, published in January 2018, which was also a collaborative research exercise with Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. Download Namal Rajapaksa, bots and trolls: New contours of digital propaganda and online discourse in Sri Lanka here.
For further information and media inquiries, please contact Sanjana Hattotuwa on
Source:The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)