Success story of a ‘victim diaspora’

Lecture on Sri Lankan Tamils in exile

December 28, 2019 12:45 am | Updated 12:45 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

In the globalised scenario, ‘diaspora’ implies that a community can be built by people scattered over many locations, mobilised through technology and acting with synergy even as narratives of uprooting, displacement and migration continue to remain important, Kamala Ganesh, former head, Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai, said on Friday.

Ms. Ganesh was delivering the Prof. M.N. Srinivas memorial lecture on ‘Complicating victimhood in diaspora studies: The saga of Sri Lankan Tamils in exile’ at the 45th all-India sociological conference at the University of Kerala.

Global attention

The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, born out of the internal conflict in the island nation, is a classic ‘victim diaspora’ which established itself as a transnational, enterprising and innovative community that drew international attention to the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils, according to Ms. Ganesh.

What started out as an asylum-seeking migration had by the end of the 1990s become a powerful transnational diaspora. In 2010, it established a transnational government.

But this diaspora can also be simultaneously read as longing for the lost home as well as determined to build a future in the new home, she said.

Roots kept alive

Traumatised by loss of livelihood and the lives of loved ones, working upwards from an economic zero, Sri Lankan Tamils had struggled to survive. Gradually earning the tag of good immigrants, they propagated the Tamil language, cultivated the classical arts and built temples that have left a cultural mark on the European landscape, she said.

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