chapter  3
25 Pages

City

WithAnoma Pieris

This chapter examines how violence impacted specific urban environments over an extended period of time. It discusses the transformation of Jaffna peninsula through three stages – as battleground, ghost town and cantonment. A more novel phenomenon that emerged from the Sri Lankan conflict was of ‘terrorist’ activities outside designated conflict zones – activities first honed in the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna insurrections of the 1970s but executed with a greater degree of sophistication and ruthlessness by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The physical destruction experienced in the warzone settled like a layer over other signs of dereliction, expected in former colonial cities, due to changing demographics, failing infrastructure or economic neglect. The city becomes a scaled-down representation of the entire wartime geography with its feverish intensities and areas of opacity and absence. Oppression by the state or by separatists is read very differently in city space.