New book (in Italian) edited by network member Giuseppe Burgio – ‘Oltre la nazione’ [Beyond the Nation]
Why does nationalism still seem widespread in a globalized world? How does nationalism interact with gender policies? Can we still call “migration” a phenomenon like the diasporas that are transforming our society? How can we talk about interculturalism in the presence of international terrorism?
The volume edited by Giuseppe Burgio tries to answer these questions focusing on the case of the Tamils of Sri Lanka, analyzing the complex relationship between terms that seem antithetical (identity, nationalism, differences, interculturality) and framing explicitly the link between nationalism, difference and violence.
The transformations of migratory movements force us to reconsider the old theoretical model based on the couplet emigration-immigration: in fact, today the transnational migrants develop identities within complex networks that connect them to two or more societies at the same time. As a result Interculturality is no longer a relationship with two, but with three poles: the country of origin, the country of destination, the diaspora. So the Tamil diaspora can be considered paradigmatic of a broader discussion and it questions us about the processes of integration and transformation of our Western societies.
Contributions of Clelia Bartoli, Giuseppe Burgio, Jude Lal Fernando, Thanushan Kugathasan, Cristiana Natali, Ambra Pirri, Sebastiampillai Dunstan Rajakumar, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo.
New book by Martin Baumann and Andreas Tunger-Zanetti on the Sri Manonmani Ampal temple in Trimbach, Switzerland
Network member Martin Baumann and his colleague Andreas Tunger-Zanetti have published a book about the first purpose-built Hindu temple in Switzerland, the Sri Manonmani Ampal temple in Trimbach. The book (in German) describes the planning and construction processes, provides a detailed presentation of the various gods and shrines (including professional pictures), and sets this temple in the context of Tamil Hindus in Switzerland and Europe.
Hildegunn Valen Kleivea is a PhD candidate at Volda University College, Norway. Hildegunn’s research explores forms of spirituality among young Tamils in the North West of Norway, and focuses on migrant religions outside the bigger cities as well as the everyday life dimension of religiosity. The research is qualitative, employing questionaires, in-depth interviews and photo-elicitation.
Gratitude and hospitality: Tamil refugee employment in London and the conditional nature of integration
This new paper by Ruth Healey of the University of Chester has been published in Environment and Planning A, 46(3).
Abstract: Refugees are often one of the most economically and socially excluded groups in host countries. The policy of integration attempts to address different elements of exclusion, yet relatively little research has considered what integration means to the refugees themselves. This paper explores one key area for supporting integration: employment. Understandings of integration are advanced by exploring how a group of twenty-six Tamil refugees and nineteen people who worked with refugees in the UK perceived an underlying rhetoric of anticipated gratitude within the policies around refugees. These perspectives are theorised within a framework of hospitality. The participants believed that refugees were expected to be grateful to the host society, and subsequently felt a debt for what the host society had given them: safety and education. However, they also identified frustration towards the host society where they felt marginalised or discrimination. It is possible to analyse employment as both an opportunity to give back, and something for which to be grateful. However, gratitude may not necessarily be felt towards the host society. If employment is found through the ethnic community, gratitude is likely to be concentrated there, rather than in the wider society. For the refugee participants in this research, asylum is a debt which can rarely be fully repaid, leaving them to seek acceptance and respect beyond the tolerance they are offered.
Tamil diaspora and the political spaces of second-generation activism in Switzerland
Published in Global Networks (early view) by Monika Hess and Benedikt Korf.
Abstract: In this article, we study the emergence of the political spaces of activism of second-generation Swiss Tamils resulting from a critical event – the suffering of Tamils during and after the final battle in early 2009 of a civil war in northern Sri Lanka that had lasted for decades. We contend that we can explain the geographies of newly emerging second-generation activism committed to achieving Tamil Eelam through two factors. These are first, this generation’s multiple senses of belonging both to Switzerland and to the Tamil ‘nation’ and, second, the way a specific politics of affect remoulded second-generation identities because the pain of witnessing the brutality of war and suffering of Tamils occurred concurrently with a perceived lack of interest from their ‘new home’ (Switzerland). The combination of these factors made them want to acknowledge their Tamil ‘roots’ and encouraged them to become politically active. Consequently, these second-generation activists primarily sought to engage with their host society – to awaken it from its indifference to the suffering of Tamils and from its passivity in taking action on an international level. We thereby witness the emerging of a new type of Tamil activism in Switzerland, which is firmly located in and bound to the host country.
XVIII World Congress of Sociology paper on Third Culture Kids and Intergenerational Challenges in Migrant Communities: Korean Christians and Tamil Hindus in Germany
One of the presenters, Sandhya Marla of Ruhr-Universitat Bochum’s Centre for Religious Studies, has written other papers on Tamil Hindu religosity in Germany – details here (in German), and is undertaking a doctoral project on ‘Religious dynamics in the intergenerational field: 2nd generation Tamil Hindus in North Rhine-Westfalia‘.
Abstract: After several decades of coexistence, the research fields migration studies and the sociology of religion have built a strong theoretical and empirical exchange. The impetuous was a sociological conceptualization of migration as a decisive factor of religious dynamics in modern societies. This idea, in turn, triggered investigations of religious dynamics within migrant communities as they transmit religious knowledge to second generations and their way of adapting religion (doing religious culture). We propose, that intergenerational dynamics in migrant religions are reflected in areas of tensions between and among generations. The paper presents the results of two research projects on intergenerational dynamics in Asian migrant communities in Germany: Korean Christians and Tamil Hindus. The parental generations of both communities were highly engaged with re-establishing a religious life in a foreign land. They created a “home away from home”, not least to transmit religious knowledge to their children in an authentic setting, linked to their country of origin. However, the second generation, who will inevitably take over the community, was raised in two cultures. Do these youngsters still relate to their parents’ beliefs and practices? Which kind of intergenerational tensions challenge the transmission and reproduction of religious identities and thus institutionalized religion? We will discuss such questions in the paper. Special attention will be given to three areas of tension that affect religious continuities and discontinuities in the Korean and Tamil milieu: (1) religious practices now considered “obsolete,” (2) differing ideas of religion and gender and (3) critique of religious organizations. In accordance with the topic of this panel, the main focus of our comparative analysis between second generation Korean Christians and Tamil Hindus will be drawn to dynamics, which emerge during the transition to adulthood phase.
There are also several new publications looking at various aspects of Tamil migration and settlement in Canada and Australia, which may be useful from a comparative perspective:
Finally, a new book, The Encyclopedia of the Sri Lankan Diaspora, edited by Peter Reeves, has been published by EDM and the Institute of South Asian Studies, NUS.
If you have written, or come across, a new publication (or have any other news or details of conference calls, events etc.) which may be of interest to network members, please send the information to Demelza Jones at d.jones4 (at) aston.ac.uk
The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict & the deportation of Sri Lankan Tamil torture victims from the UK
This week in London, a global summit is being held on the topic of sexual violence in conflict, co-chaired by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and the actor Angelina Jolie in her capacity as Special Envoy for UNHCR.
While any move towards a concerted international effort to address sexual violence in conflict is to be welcomed, the conference’s presence in London and the high profile support espoused for its aims by members of the British Cabinet has led to charges of hypocrisy, due to this and previous UK administrations’ appalling track record of unsympathetic treatment of victims of sexual violence (and other forms of torture) who have fled to the UK and are going through the UK asylum system. Some of the highest profile recent cases have concerned Tamil refugees who have fled torture (including sexual violence), but have had their asylum cases refused despite independent medical evidence, and face detention and deportation. One such case, of ‘Siva’, was reported in the Guardian newspaper this week.
Asked what he felt about the global summit on preventing sexual violence being held in London Docklands, a few miles from where he is staying, he said: “I feel like the British government has double standards hosting this summit; they are showing two different faces to the world.”
Yesterday, the Guardian reported that as a result of the criticism levelled at his government by NGOs, lawyers and refugee advocacy groups, William Hague has promised to investigate claims that Tamil asylum seekers who have suffered sexual violence and other forms of torture are being deported to Sri Lanka:
The foreign secretary pointed out that asylum decisions were handled by the home secretary, Theresa May, but that the Foreign Office contributed to country-by-country assessments of human rights. He promised an investigation and training for immigration officers to make them more sensitive to the plight of rape victims.
The article also makes reference to a report from earlier this year by Yasmin Sooka of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, which found that:
abduction, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and sexual violence have increased [in Sri Lanka] in the postwar period.
Jerome is from Tamil Nadu, India. In the years 2009-2011, he did an M.Phil at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, where he researched the topic, ‘Ethnicity and Identity: A Case study on Tamil Migrants in Mumbai’. In 2011 Jerome commenced his doctoral studies at the Institute for Ethnology, Muenster University, Germany, where he is conducting research into ‘Christian Sri Lankan Tamils in Germany and their political, religious and cultural identity’. Jerome is interested in the research topics: Christianity in Asia, diaspora religions, and diaspora Tamils.
Several journal articles have appeared in recent months which may be of interest to network members:
Ruth L Healey
Environment and Planning A
Abstract. Refugees are often one of the most economically and socially excluded groups in host countries. The policy of integration attempts to address different elements of exclusion, yet relatively little research has considered what integration means to the refugees themselves. This paper explores one key area for supporting integration: employment. Understandings of integration are advanced by exploring how a group of twenty-six Tamil refugees and nineteen people who worked with refugees in the UK perceived an underlying rhetoric of anticipated gratitude within the policies around refugees. These perspectives are theorised within a framework of hospitality. The participants believed that refugees were expected to be grateful to the host society, and subsequently felt a debt for what the host society had given them: safety and education. However, they also identified frustration towards the host society where they felt marginalised or discrimination. It is possible to analyse employment as both an opportunity to give back, and something for which to be grateful. However, gratitude may not necessarily be felt towards the host society. If employment is found through the ethnic community, gratitude is likely to be concentrated there, rather than in the wider society. For the refugee participants in this research, asylum is a debt which can rarely be fully repaid, leaving them to seek acceptance and respect beyond the tolerance they are offered.
Abstract: This article discusses the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Toronto and its relationship to the Tamil separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Taking the case of the Sri Lankan Tamils, oft-cited as the example par excellence of long-distance nationalism, I argue against naturalizing diasporic ethnonationalism to investigate instead how diasporas are fashioned into specific kinds of actors. I examine tensions that emerged as an earlier elite Tamil movement gave way to the contemporary migration of much larger class-and caste-fractured communities, while a cultural imaginary of migration as a form of mobility persisted. I suggest that concomitant status anxieties have propelled culturalist imaginations of a unified Tamil community in Toronto who, through the actions of LTTE-affiliated organizations, have condensed the Tigers and their imagined homeland, Tamil Eelam, into representing Tamil community life. While most Tamils may not have explicitly espoused LTTE ideology, as a result of the LTTE becoming the backbone of community life, Tamils became complicit with and reaffirmed the LTTE project of defending “Tamilness” militarily in Sri Lanka and culturally in Toronto. I suggest that the self-presentation of diasporic communities should be analyzed within specific histories, contemporary conflicts and fractures, and active mobilizing structures.
L. Michael Ratnapalan
South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
Abstract: This paper discusses the material effects of the theorisation of the contemporary Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora around the 1983 Colombo riots. In the complicated aftermath of the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009, it is necessary to rethink the way in which diasporic history has been constructed in order to factor in its multiple dimensions and underlying dynamics. By critically foregrounding the key literature on the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, which is definitive to understanding the history of Sri Lankan Tamil emigration around the 1983 riots, the modern diaspora can be framed anew by longer and more diverse historical perspectives.
Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies
Abstract: Looking at political demonstrations that occurred throughout 2008 and 2009 in Toronto, this article explores popular understandings of diasporic identities within a Canadian multiculturalism framework. It also examines second-generation Sri Lankan Tamils’ (SLT) (re)negotiations of these representations in forming and informing their identities. Drawing on Kathleen Hall’s (2002) framework, identities are understood as constituted through processes of power, discourse, and representation. Through a critical discourse analysis of newspaper editorials and narrative explorations of second-generation Canadian Tamils, this article investigates how diasporic identities are incorporated into the wider Canadian polity. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with second-generation Tamil Canadians (ages nineteen to twenty-nine). I argue that popular constructions of diasporic identities and Canadian national identity as understood within a multiculturalism framework are not entirely in concurrence with Tamil diasporic minorities’ own identity narratives. The resultant “othering” causes feelings of marginalization and undermines notions of social citizenship. Concurrently, resistive practices by the second generation embodied by the political demonstrations of 2008–2009 contest “Canadian” identity as promoted in hegemonic representations by dominant elements of society, including the state. Divergences that emerge between the resistive discourses of second-generation Tamils and “mainstream” integrationist discourses demonstrate the need for a more sophisticated conceptualization of how Canadian multiculturalism and citizenship might incorporate the transnational political and cultural practices of its citizens.
If network members know of any other relevant recent publications that they would like to share, please email details to Demelza Jones at email@example.com