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"Wherever in This World I Live, Achieving Tamil Eelam Is My Conviction": Long Distance Nationalism Among Second Generation Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto

Uduagmpola, Prabhath

This thesis examines a novel phenomenon in diasporic Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism which came to the fore during the first half of 2009, when the Sri Lankan civil war drew to a painful close after more than two decades of fierce fighting. First generation Sri Lankan Tamils, after decades of activism, stepped back to make way for a resurgent second generation. What made the second generation take to the streets? This thesis locates an answer at the intersection between history and anthropology. Remembrance and forgetting in the first generation and ignorance in the second generation are used to look at how history of Sri Lankan Tamils is narrated across generations in Toronto. The first generation's nostalgic remembrances of homeland and selective forgetting in the face of social turmoil and egalitarian pressures in Toronto have translated into ignorance in the second generation. This ignorance is manifested as disjointed narratives which is taken advantage of by the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE), to mobilize the second generation. The LTTE, which had monopolized the Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist dialogue since the 1990s, imposed its own "master narrative" on the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, which provided the framework within which the second generation interpreted the disjointed narratives and sought to make sense. By confining the Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist discourse to four sub-narratives of victimhood, territory, history and human rights, all of which operated synergistically within the master narrative, the LTTE provided a powerful impetus for second generation's activism. The imposition of the master narrative was facilitated by the fact that more than anything else, the Sri Lankan Tamil nation is a "cyber nation," with its inherent advantages over territorial boundaries.

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History
Degree
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 14, 2010

Notes

Senior thesis.

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