chapter  5
20 Pages

Mobility After War: Re-negotiating Belonging in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

This is the comment of a Tamil woman in Sri Lanka’s northern peninsula of Jaffna who met her relatives living in Europe after a Ceasefire Agreement had temporarily ended the Sri Lankan civil war in 2002.1 The statement highlights the ambivalence of the reunion after more than 10 years, because it reveals her subjective feelings of alienation and that of other locals during the war vis-à-vis her emigrated relatives who had temporarily returned for a visit. Despite all the joy and happiness which marked the moment of reunion, this quote hints at the material and emotional distance which had emerged within a family and, more generally among the Sri Lankan Tamils, quite often constructed as a unified and homogeneous, yet spatially dispersed community under the conditions of warrelated immobility and distance.