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Sri Lanka: Postcolonialism, Nationalism and the Tamil

September 1, 2009

So jonolan got his sexy knickers in a twist over my Sri Lanka post, accusing me of supporting terrorism. Firstly, let’s make this very clear, I am not French, so I am not a freedom hating surrender monkey. Secondly, in an effort to show another side of the Sri Lanka story, allow me to direct your internet gaze to the following article that actually provides a much needed critical perspective on the problematic of nationalism (and nationalist movements), with a particular focus on the Tamil vs. Sri Lankan government framing that much of the media (including yours truly) have been guilty of.

Framing non-European societies as collections of prescriptive communities has been for several centuries now been a persuasive and authoritative way of knowing that certainly has some truth value. But as Edward Said has shown, such an Orientalist orientation can also freeze our understandings into a dichotomy of “west” versus an ethnicised “rest”, which is more about the authority of the knower, than the life worlds of the known. Those concerned with radical democracy and social justice would do well to think beyond such a framing.

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