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Economy, Culture, and Civil War in Sri Lanka

Deborah Winslow and Michael D. Woost, eds.

Publication Year: 2004

"Will be of interest to those working on conflict and peace studies, economic development, cultural studies, and women in the modern world. A key new publication." -- Chandra R. de Silva, Old Dominion University

"... offers a superb overview of how a civil war, driven by ethnicity, can engender a new culture and a new political economy... Highly recommended."
-- Choice

Economy, Culture, and Civil War in Sri Lanka provides a lucid and up-to-date interpretation of Sri Lankan society and its 20-year civil conflict. An interdisciplinary examination of the relationship between the economy, broadly defined, and the reproduction of violent conflict, this volume argues that the war is grounded not just in the goals and intentions of the opposing sides, but also in the everyday orientations, experiences, and material practices of all Sri Lankan people. The contributors explore changing political and policy contexts; the effect of long-term conflict on employment opportunities and life choices for rural and urban youth; life histories, memory, and narratives of violence; the "economics of enlisting" and individual decisions about involvement in the war; and nationalism and the moral debate triggered by women's employment in the international garment manufacturing industry.

Contributors are Francesca Bremner, Michele Ruth Gamburd, Newton Gunasinghe, Siri T. Hettige, Caitrin Lynch, John M. Richardson, Jr., Amita Shastri, Deborah Winslow, and Michael D. Woost.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title page copyright page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book was born of curiosity. Like many people, we wanted to understand how tens of thousands of people have come to die in Sri Lanka’s civil war and what, if anything, the economy has had to do with it. Impassioned curiosity led to a question that soon became a debate, then a workshop, and now this volume. In 1977...

A Note on Pronunciationof Sinhala Words

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xv

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1 Articulations of Economy and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka

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pp. 1-28

On July 24, 2001, a small but well armed group of guerillas—members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)—mounted a daring assault on Sri Lanka’s only international airport and the adjoining military air base. The attack was intended to mark the anniversary of the infamous anti-Tamil violence of 1983 and...

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Part One/Introduction: Articulations of National Economic Policy and Ethnic Conflict

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pp. 29-40

When Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) obtained independence from Great Britain in 1948, many of the factors that would prove critical for the new country’s economic and political health already were visible. Industrialization...

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2 Violent Conflict and the First Half Decade of Open Economy Policies in Sri Lanka: A Revisionist View

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pp. 41-72

This chapter examines the human consequences of J. R. Jayawardene’s open economy reforms during his ¤rst half decade in office. Three points of departure set the stage. First is a topology of conflict events data1 that shows the period in question as one of intensifying violent political conflict. Second is an amalgam of...

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3 An Open Economy in a Time of Intense Civil War: Sri Lankam 1994-2000

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pp. 73-92

President Chandrika Kumaratunga was swept to power at the head of a center-left coalition of parties in August 1994 in Sri Lanka on the basis of widespread hopes raised by her electoral promises. In competition with the opposing major party, the United National Party (UNP), she promised to work for economic “globalization...

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Part Two/Introduction: Articulations of Class, Ethnicity, and Violence

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pp. 93-98

In the last week of July 1983, the people of Sri Lanka went through some of the worst rioting and ethnic violence in their history. It was surely the worst episode of anti-Tamil violence since independence in 1948. Even before the

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4 The Open Economy and Its Impact on Ethnic Relations in Sri Lanka

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pp. 99-114

Although the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983 stand out for the sheer magnitude of devastation, the recent history of Sri Lanka is not devoid of other instances of mass violence directed against ethnic and religious minorities. The year 1915 witnessed...

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5 Economic Policy, Changing Opportunities for Youth, and the Ethnic Con

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pp. 115-130

Many researchers and commentators have examined the causes and consequences of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict. Some have attempted to trace the conflict’s origins to ancient times while others have confined themselves to more recent developments (Spencer, ed. 1990), particularly the Tamil community’s real and perceived grievances...

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Part Three/Introduction: Articulations of Civil War in Everyday Life

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pp. 131-136

The authors in Part II helped to reinforce the argument that conflict and violence cannot simply be read off the prior interests of various categories of participants as they are positioned within

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6 Fragments of Memory, Processes of State: Ethnic Violence through the Life Histories of Participants

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pp. 137-150

Sri Lanka in July 1983 again? The dust has settled on 1983, and the formations of violence appropriate to a civil war have bypassed that momentous turning point. To go back to 1983 in the light of these subsequent challenges seems doomed to be an intellectually jaded project. The reasons that I do so are twofold. One is that...

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7 The Economics of Enlisting: A Village View of Armed Service

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pp. 151-167

“The war is like nothing for Prabhakaran and the government. Young lives are over like smoking a cigarette, with no result.” Thus lamented Timon, a 48-year-old maintenance man from Naeaegama,1 during one of the most intense periods in Sri Lanka’s civil war. In 2000, many people from this Sinhala village on the south coast...

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8 Economic Liberalization, Nationalism, and Women’s Morality in Sri Lanka

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pp. 168-191

In 1977, Sri Lanka’s United National Party (UNP) government introduced an economic liberalization package. The centerpiece of the “Open Economy” was the establishment one year later of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in an urban area on the outskirts of the capital city, Colombo. From the start, the workforce...

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Epilogue, or Prelude to Peace?

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pp. 192-204

Over the summer of 2003, as this book was being prepared for publication, the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE were struggling to break a two-month deadlock in peace negotiations. The talks had begun officially in September 2002, although...

References Cited

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pp. 205-226


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pp. 227-230


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pp. 231-242

E-ISBN-13: 9780253110268
E-ISBN-10: 0253110262
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253344205

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 3 b&w photos, 1 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2004