Current Institutional Affiliation
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, CUNY Humanities Alliance, City University of New York (CUNY) / Graduate Center

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2007
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
Politics After a Ceasefire: Becoming Tamil Subjects in Diaspora

My project explores how diasporic Sri Lankan Tamils create new modes of belonging and citizenship by engaging with a world of suffering “back home,” through public performances of solidarity with, grief for, and commemoration of, their relatives in Sri Lanka. Over a period of eighteen months, I will carry out ethnographic research among Tamils living in Toronto, Chennai (Madras) and Colombo to track how the circulation of Tamil political and cultural forms, and their embedding in these interconnected, national and urban sites, produces new citizen-subjects in diaspora. Even as Tamil political movements employ a globalizing rhetoric that seeks to transcend particular places, they are oriented and addressed to affective relations, national publics, and state power. My research engages with critical literatures inside and outside anthropology in South Asian studies, diaspora studies, citizenship, and public ritual, in order to trace the formation of new social and political subjects. I suggest that the study of these transnational political practices uniquely articulates 1) how political ritual, understood as a technology of social mediation, binds (and is bound by) subjects into new forms of public belonging and 2) the normative and pragmatic claims of diaspora and its ‘homelands’ in securing rights, obligations, and recognition within pluralist and multicultural states.