Archiving memories

‘Herstories’ of Resilience and Hope

“Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.” – Chimamanda Nģozi Adichie

Herstories project is based on the idea that generally, women and children are the most affected by war and peace. Yet, women’s voices are the least heard mostly because they are oral histories, and are hardly ever recorded. As it passes from their memory and ours, it will also vanish from history.

HERSTORIES attempts to address this gap, by collecting mothers’ narratives from the ground (South, East and North Sri Lanka). Primarily because mothers are guardians of memory – narrating stories, collecting photographs and keeping the family history alive – when a mother is asked her story, she speaks not only of herself but of her family, neighbours and village. As a result she creates a composite view of a time period, a place and a set of identities that is truly unique. Together, these lives of others even though very personal individual stories, create a collective set of narratives that add faces, names, places, character, hopes, dreams, challenges, strength, courage and ‘flesh’ to an era in Sri Lankan history that must not be forgotten.

https://theherstoryarchive.org/

Extract:

Photo-essays Kilinochchi District

I want the best for my children

A mother of three from Kilinochchi speaks of her struggle to survive and wishes for a better future

English: I have three children. We had a terrible time during the war, no food, no water. We were in Manukulam when a shell struck my husband. I was 22 when he died. We lived in a refugee camp in Chettikulum for about a year after that. When their father died I told my children that they should not worry because I will take care of them. I always do my best to provide them with what they need. 

Tamil: எனக்கு மூன்று பிள்ளைகள். போர்நடந்த காலத்தில் உண்ண உணவோ குடிநீரோ இல்லாது நாம் மிகக் கஷ்டத்தை அனுபவித்தோம். நாம் மாங்குளத்தில் இருந்தபோது எனது கணவர் செல்லடிபட்டார். அவர் இறக்கும்போது எனக்கு 22 வயது. அதன் பின்னர் ஒரு வருட காலமாக நாம் செட்டிகுளத்திலுள்ள அகதி முகாமில் வசித்தோம். தகப்பன் இறந்தபோது எனது பிள்ளைகள் எதற்கும் கவலைப்படக்கூடாதெனவும் நான் அவர்களைப் பராமரிப்பேன் எனவும் கூறினேன். அவர்களுக்குத் தேவையானவற்றை வழங்குவதற்கு நான எப்போதும் என்னாலானதைச் செய்வேன். 

https://theherstoryarchive.org/photo-essays-kilinochchi/i-want-the-best-for-my-children/

NR

More Posts

Follow Me:
LinkedIn

Languages and identities – Fiction and non-fiction references

Identities within a language – in Tamil

In Caste and its multiple manifestations. A study of the Caste System in Northern Sri Lanka (2021, Baby Owl Press, Sri Lanka), Selvy Thiruchandran studies how language structures go hand-in-hand with caste structures:

“A question raised by a low caste person to an upper caste person mainly the Vellalar takes an interesting form. It is considered rude or impolite to ask a question or make a statement on equal terms or with an equal status with a Vellalar. For example, questions like “are you going?” or “what do you say?” have to add a phrase akum in order to sound respectful. Instead of directly asking poreenkala (Are you going?), “akum is added at the end, thus saying poreenkalakum\ Or, instead of asking ennasollureenka (What do you say?) they say “ennavaakum sollureengal The interrogative marker has supposedly made the address polite and dispels the status of being equal in the conversation. Etymologically aakum cannot be explained or broken into syllables to signify a meaning other than a derived contextual meaning as it appears or it seems expressing a sense of uncertainty like, maybe’. Unlike other forms of speech formation aakum was a Panchamar construction. How it originated and why it originated remains a mystery ” (p 63).

Forms of respect as well as derogatory comments can be conveyed through the use of specific language structures. People belonging to low-castes could be referred to in the adu (it / animal or object form): “A person of high caste, when he wants to ask the question “Where are they?” phrases it as “atukal enge?”(thus referring to them as inanimate objects) instead of “avarkal enge” Where are they?)” (p 64).

In When I Hit You, Meena Kandasamy reflects on how language shapes her identity or rather how she can see herself:

Language determines who you are, but also who you are shapes the language you use
“English makes me a lover, a beloved, a poet. Tamil makes me a word huntress, it makes me a love goddess.
There is a linguistic theory that the structures of languages determine the mode of thought and behaviours of the cultures in which they are spoken. In an effort to understand my life at the moment, I have come up with its far-fetched corollary, a distant cousin of this theory: I think what you know in a language shows what you are in relation to that language. Not an instance of language shaping your worldview but its obtuse inverse, where your worldview shapes what parts of the language you pick up. Not just: your language makes you, your language holds you prisoner to a particular way of looking at the world. But also: who you are determines what language you inhabit, the prison-house of your existence permits you only to access and wield some parts of a language.
Now in Mangalore, I know the Kannada words eshtu: how much; haalu: milk; aanda: eggs; namaskaram: greetings; neerulli: onions; hendathi: wife; illi: here; aadu: that one; illa: no; saaku: enough; naanu naandigudda hogabekku: I want to go to Naandigudda” (p 92).

Identities beyond a single language

What happens then when one moves from one language to another and faces what Yaa Gyasi has eloquently phrasely: (speaking of her mother from Ghana, who moved to America) “I think, rather, that she just never figured out how to translate who she really was into this new language” (Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyassi).

Despite the inevitable sense of loss in this process of translating identities, there is also the possibility of creating new ones, as Lauren Collins brings out in When In French. Love in a Second language:

“ Bilinguals overwhelmingly report that they feel like different people in different languages. They do so for a multitude of reasons, some of which are less attributable to any language in particular than to having a new language itself. A person may be a loan shark in his new language when he was an opthalmologist in his native tongue. Perhaps he spoke Polish to his first wife but speaks Portuguese with the second. He may have scaled or slid down the ladder of class. He may have changed his politics, or his name.”

It is often assumed that the mother tongue is the language of the true self. And in many ways it remains the primal vehi­cle, the first and most effective responder in moments of cele­bration or crisis. A person who has spoken English most of her life is always going to speak English when she stubs her toe. But if first languages are reservoirs of emotion, second lan­guages can be rivers undammed”, and even “A fresh language can be a solvent to heart­ache.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NR

More Posts

Follow Me:
LinkedIn

Books on caste in Sri Lanka

Selvy Thiruchandran’s book, Caste and its multiple manifestations. A study of the caste system in Northern Sri Lanka (2021) is insightful and informative. Going through language forms and cultural practices that depict caste structures, the book also brings out a contrast between strategies in India and Sri Lanka with regard to avoiding caste: Referring to Periyar (1993) and Ambedkar, the author explains: “They both held the view that Hinduism was the biggest or the only cause for casteism. Ambedkar was perhaps ignorant of how Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have to be of a specific high caste to adorn the high positions of Buddhist order and institutions. Daniel’s ancestry was originally Hindu of the Turumbar caste, the lowest in the caste ladder. He was converted to Christianity and assumed the Christian name Daniel. Daniel raises the question through his novel whether conversion is the means of caste liberation. He answers in the negative and calls it, Kanai — a mirage/an illusion or an illusory image of water with inverted reflections.”

After mentioning the key figures who perpetrated caste-based structures (Arumugam Navalar) and those who fought against them (   , the author also deals with long-lasting consequences of caste, especially in the context of conflict. Speaking of the refugee camps set up after the end of the war, she refers to the socio-economic disadvantages that are accentuated by caste: “Does caste play a role in the lives of the people who live in the refugee camps? One could say that it starts very early in the composition of the inmates. Those of the high caste have escaped the violence of the war by migrating to other countries or by moving to the city of Colombo. They were also able to return to their former habitats during the periods of ceasefire and continue to live there. Those who belong to the lower strata of a caste became internal refugees. It is estimated that there is a disproportionate presence of the Panchamar caste in the refugee camps. (Silva, Sivapragasma and Thanges (2009:65) That they have to live for long periods in these centres (e.g. Alady camp) is symptomatic of continuing inability to move out due to lack of resources. In addition to this they also face a disadvantaged status by being subjected to other socially unjust discrimination relating to caste ” (page 137).

Ajith Balasuriya in Legacy of Palmyra: The Victims of Dual Horizontal Inequalities in Northern Sri Lanka (Colombo University Press, 2023) uses caste as the main focus in analysing the conflict in Sri Lanka. “Considering the duality of the protracted conflict in Sri Lanka, this study clearly identifies caste-based socio economic inequalities within the Tamil community as one of the fundamental causes of the conflict. Caste based socio-economic inequalities are not a unique phenomenon in the Tamil community, but parallels can be seen among the Sinhalese as well” (p 106).

“(…) this study argues that Horizontal Inequalities can be seen in a dual form within the ethnic Tamil community, among lower and upper castes. Lower-caste Tamils have been discriminated or affected by HIs twice. First, from the inequalities imposed by majority Sinhalese, and secondly from the inequalities from upper-caste Tamils who are a part of their own ethnic group” (107).

NR

More Posts

Follow Me:
LinkedIn

“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.

via: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sri-lanka-clashes-arrests/sri-lankan-corporals-arrested-on-anti-muslim-riot-charges-idUSKBN1HH1SB

“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 sanjanah@cpalanka.org.
Source:The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

“Stories of Resilience: that aims to document and share stories of strength, courage and resilience of Tamil communities before, during and after the armed conflict” by  Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research (ACPR)

‘Stories of Resilience’ is a project by the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research (ACPR) that aims to document and share stories of strength, courage and resilience of Tamil communities before, during and after the armed conflict. ACPR intends to preserve these stories for current and future generations of Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Diaspora as part of a broader conversation about Mullivaikkaal
This project aims to contribute to efforts around the world to document and share stories of Tamil survival, by documenting stories of those who still live in Sri Lanka and continue to persevere.

This project currently features two series’ of stories:
  • “Stories of Mullivaikkaal”: This series presents alternative narratives from survivors of Mullivaikkaal which does not narrow their lived experiences to helpless victimhood but rather promotes and accepts their agency. We hope that this series will raise awareness about the struggle and resilience of the survivors of the last phase of the war and broaden the conversation about assisting those who suffered mass atrocities during the end of the war.
  • Stories of Vaharai“: This series presents a variety of narratives from Tamil individuals who have survived the war in and around the Vaharai region in the East. We hope that this series draws attention to the often overlooked ongoing plight faced by Tamil communities in the East, and the significant trauma they have experienced.
If you would like to be notified when new content is added to the website,
you can directly on ‘Stories of Resilience”s website.

Nine stories are alrealdy available there.

Source: http://storiesofresilience.com/

“Friday et Friday” de Antonythasan Jesuthasan alias Shobasakthi, en librairie à partir du 5 avril 2018

 

“Friday et Friday” de Antonythasan Jesuthasan alias Shobasakthi.

Nouvelles traduites du tamoul (Sri Lanka) par Faustine Imbert-Vier,

Élisabeth Sethupathy, et Farhaan Wahab

Une enfance à Allaipiddy, au nord de Sri Lanka, la guérilla tamoule, l’errance, l’exil en France… Autant de motifs et de personnages qui habitent l’œuvre d’Antonythasan Jesuthasan : Diana la Ronde, pétrifiée par le bruit des bombes, qui remue ciel et terre pour obtenir son abri ; Pratheeban, le demandeur d’asile, floué pour une poignée de kilomètres ; les 37 Mouvements de rébellion, bien décidés à se tailler la part du lion ; Layla, la petite dame du numéro 7, que son nom de code – Oiseau jaune – finit par trahir, ou encore le chevalier de Kandi, condamné à devenir un coq en pâte aux frais du Comité central.
À travers tous ces portraits, c’est aussi celui du narrateur qui se dessine, tout en humour et en finesse – le roman d’une vie, le miroir d’une âme et d’un peuple qui sait que c’est parfois en perdant de vue le rivage que le cœur se remet à flot.

A propos de l’auteur

Si l’on connaît son visage grâce au superbe Dheepan de Jacques Audiard (Palme d’or à Cannes en 2015) dont il est l’acteur principal, Antonythasan Jesuthasan est surtout écrivain reconnu – auteur de quatre romans, plusieurs recueils de nouvelles et de nombreux essais, pièces de théâtre et scénarios.

Antonythasan Jesuthasan – alias Shobasakthi – est né en 1967 à Allaipiddy, un village à l’extrême nord de Sri Lanka. Ancien enfant soldat du Mouvement de libération des Tigres tamouls, il arrive en France en 1993 où il obtient l’asile politique. Il vit désormais à Paris.

Son œuvre est traduite pour la première fois en français. L’adaptation cinématographique de la magnifique nouvelle Friday, qui se déroule dans la communauté tamoule du quartier de la Chapelle, à Paris, est en cours de réalisation.

Le dossier de presse du livre est accessible à travers ce lien : dossier_presse-572162dp-mars-18pdf

Une première revue du livre a été rédigé par Véronique-Atasi et peut-être lu sur son blog atasi.over-blog.com

Pour plus d’information, vous pouvez consulter le site de la maison d’édition Zulma qui a publié Friday and Friday.

“Sri Lanka to host conference on Tamil culture” The Hindu

The International Movement of Tamil Culture (Sri Lanka chapter) in association with the University of Jaffna will be holding a two-day special conference on ‘Challenges and Initiatives of Tamil Language and Culture’ at the University premises on August 5 and 6.

to read more : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/sri-lanka-to-host-conference-on-tamil-culture/article19392300.ece

“Peace and justice: a timely reminder” by Meera Srinivasan

In April this year, when Rajani’s colleague Rajan Hoole was about to launch his book ‘Palmyra Fallen: From Rajani to war’s end’ and tried holding a discussion around it, a similar response came from the University of Jaffna, where Rajani was heading the Anatomy department until she was gunned down, yet again bringing to focus the concern many share about the lack of space in the University.

via: http://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/palmyra-fallen-book-review/article7361710.ece

“The (Missed) Foundations of Reconcilliation and Rajan Hoole’s “Palmyra Fallen”” by Vihanga Perera

“Rajan Hoole’s Palmyra Fallen – a twofold critical investigation into (a) the immediate political context in which the Rajani Thiranagama assassination took place in September 1989 and (b) the run up to the military crushing of the LTTE and the aftermath of the state “war victory” of May 2009 – is published at a crucial time. In the book, Hoole suggests that the text serves as a twenty fifth year death anniversary commemoration to the slain academic-rights activist Rajani Thiranagama, but, more crucially, Palmyra Fallen provides a very insightful (in-sightful) engagement with the “War Crimes” debate – a forum that has been a pivot of the Lankan fate in both national and global politics over the past six years or so.”

https://slwakes.wordpress.com/…/the-missed-foundations-of-…/

Review of “Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka” by Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne

Review of Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka by Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne , Rouledge, London, 2014, ISBN 978-0-415-46266-2,250pp

via: http://groundviews.org/2015/02/17/review-of-nation-constitutionalism-and-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/

“Home Is Elsewhere” by Shahnaz Habib for The New Yorker’s ‘Briefly Noted’)

Shahnaz Habib writes for The New Yorker’s ‘Briefly Noted’ a review of the last book of Shobasakti “The MGR Murder Trial “.

shoba

Again and again, the stories in this exciting new collection from Sri Lankan writer Shobasakthi grapple with the question of who a character really is. The writer, who now lives in France as a refugee and has worked as a dishwasher, construction worker and street sweeper over the last 20 years…

via: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/books/home-is-elsewhere

Lien audio pour écouter la conférence sur “Cinéma sri lankais : Autonomie et engagement de la nouvelle génération” qui s’est tenue le 23 janvier 2014 à l’auditorium de la Bulac

Nous avons le plaisir de partager un lien pour écouter l’enregistrement audio de la conférence sur “Cinéma sri lankais : Autonomie et engagement de la nouvelle génération” qui s’est tenue le 23 janvier 2014 à l’auditorium de la Bulac. Cette conférence s’était tenue sous l’égide de la BULAC, de l’ONG INMALANKA et du Festival du Film Sud Asiatique Transgressif (FFAST).

Lien pour écouter la conférence: http://www.bulac.fr/conferences-rencontres/archives/rencontres/rencontres-2013-2014/cinema-sri-lankais/

“Complexity of “Loyalty”, “Betrayal” and Metaphors of Eelam in Shobhasakthi’s “Traitor”” by

“Shobhasakthi’s Traitor ends with a surrealistic description where an old man wandering about the mountains with a corpse which he carries – a corpse which he uses to entertain, disgust and even to drive away people; which he sometimes uses for his own sustenance – encounters a carter going uphill caught in a predicament with its horse which wouldn’t budge. The carter whispers in the horse’s ear, tries a mild stroking from its whip and – all failing – thrashes the beast with all his might. The old man, who with his corpse is seated nearby, is visibly moved and intervenes. This abstraction with which the novel ends is a surrealistic summing up of the fate of the Eelamist struggle and the fate of its various stakeholders.”

via: http://slwakes.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/complexity-of-loyalty-betrayal-and-metaphors-of-eelam-in-shobhasakthis-traitor/

A Review by Sharika Thiranagama of “After Disasters: The Persistence of Insecurity in Sri Lanka”, by Vivian Choi

We would like to draw your attention to review of a recent doctoral dissertation on Sri Lanka which have been published at the online publication Dissertation Reviews.

A Review by Sharika Thiranagama of After Disasters: The Persistence of Insecurity in Sri Lanka, by Vivian Choi

http://dissertationreviews.org/archives/8616

Source: AISLS