chapter  5
22 Pages


WithAnoma Pieris

This chapter presents the camp as a new spatial taxonomy – evidence of the high levels of social upheaval and dispossession experienced during the Sri Lankan civil war. It explores the spatial transformation of metropolitan Colombo: from its highly militarised and politically hostile wartime urban environment, as recipient of northern refugee exoduses, to its ambitious postwar mimicry of regional neoliberal models so as to simulate democratic governance through urban renewal. The chapter argues that these radical changes that occurred during the five-year postwar period were made possible due to protracted political instability, serial human displacement and military penetration of the civic sphere. Sri Lanka’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps are dissimilar to the border environments theorised by Nicholas Mirzoeff as global strategies for restricting social and political mobility. The influx of Tamil and Muslim IDPs, and their political ambivalence with respect to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam gains or losses, re-inscribed the militarily contested border conditions internally in ethnicised neighbourhoods.