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Type: Journal article
Title: Towards citizenship in Thāmilīlam: Sri Lanka's Tamil people of the north, 1983–2010
Other Titles: Towards citizenship In Thamililam: Sri Lanka's Tamil people of the North, 1983-2010
Author: Roberts, M.
Citation: South Asia Research, 2013; 33(1):57-75
Publisher: Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 0262-7280
1741-3141
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Michael Roberts
Abstract: In establishing the de facto state of Thāmilīlam from 1990 onwards, the LTTE eliminated most of its Tamil rivals and mobilised the Tamil people for war in demanding ways. Despite its fascist character the Tiger state received the support of its subjects because it was understood to be a bulwark against Sinhala domination and the repository of sturdy Tamil nationalism, while the LTTE’s propaganda cultivated a devotional aura around its māvīrar (heroic dead). This article highlights the strength of Tamil nationalism by interweaving this dimension within empirical details that outline Tamil political shifts and processes of migration from the 1970s to the 2000s. The centre of gravity in Tamil politics shifted first in the 1970s from a Colombo–Jaffna axis to a Jaffna-centric one and then from the Jaffna Peninsula to the Kilinochchi–Mullaitivu locality in 1995–96. The second spatial shift underpins the argument that the people under the LTTE were citizens of Thāmilīlam. In technical terms they were dual citizens because they were also citizens of Sri Lanka. Where the latter claim was pressed—as it was, from different perspectives, by both the government of Sri Lanka and human rights advocates—one encountered a hegemonic imposition that denied the subjective feelings of those living within the de facto LTTE state. They were citizens of Thāmilīlam. As such, they were enemies of Sri Lanka.
Keywords: dead body politics; diaspora; Eelam; ethnic conflict; hegemony; internally displaced persons; LTTE; minorities; Muslims; nationalism; population shifts; spatial centres; Sri Lanka; Tamils
Rights: Copyright © 2013 SAGE Publications
RMID: 0020125862
DOI: 10.1177/0262728013475544
Appears in Collections:Anthropology & Development Studies publications

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