chapter  4
19 Pages


WithAnoma Pieris

This chapter focuses on civilian mobilities along two northbound road and rail routes: the Alpha 9 highway and Yal Devi track from Kandy to Jaffna during the course of the civil war. It argues that access to, egress from and connection with the warzone took on added symbolic dimensions linked to a broader politics of sovereignty and separation imagined through a national geo-body. An analysis of wartime human mobilities, of mobile physical targets, of routes travelled or road closures, offers a different perspective on sovereignty and the socio-political and economic mobilities essential to maintaining geographic unity. The assumed congruence of physical and social spaces caused by ahistorical readings of territory is both forcefully articulated and exposed for its ambiguities along disputed routes, at borders or within security zones. Both vehicle and passage, the routes advance strategies by which resistant populations are to be pacified and incorporated into the nation.