Bodies, Shrines, and Roads: Violence, (Im)mobility, and Displacement in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, gender and national identities intersect to shape people’s mobility and security in the context of conflict. This article aims to illustrate the gendered processes of identity construction in the context of competing militarised nationalisms. We contend that a feminist approach is crucial, and that gender analysis alone is insufficient. Gender cannot be considered analytically independent from nationalism or ethno-national identities because competing Tamil and Sinhala nationalist discourses produce particular gender identities and relations. Fraught and cross-cutting relations of gender, nation, class and location shape people’s movement, safety and potential for displacement. In the conflict-ridden areas of Sri Lanka’s North and East during 1999-2000, we set out to examine relations of gender and nation within the context of conflict. Our specific aim in this article is to analyse the ways in which certain identities are performed, on one hand, and subverted through premeditated performances of national identity on the other hand. We examine these processes at three sites-shrines, roads and people’s bodies. Each is a strategic site of security/insecurity, depending on one’s gender and ethno-national identity, as well as geographical location. en

<< Back