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‘Roots of Diaspora’ project

October 25, 2013

Roots of Diaspora is an interactive project on refugeehood and migration which aims to collect personal and family stories of flight and immigration of Tamils from Sri Lanka dating back as far as 1948. The project aims to trace the routes, modes of transportations, encounters and experiences of an estimated one million Tamil refugees and immigrants who left the island of Sri Lanka to reach sanctuaries abroad. The aim of the study is to map journeys of (pre)war migration to provide visual understanding and context for the impact of racialized forms of violence and discriminatory policies on affected communities.

With this project we aim to find answers to questions such as what happened following the final departure? Where did Tamils move to? Which points of transit did they move through? How did they cross borders and natural boundaries? What did they experience throughout their journeys? What was the context of borders and geographies then? Which policies aided/obstructed their decisions on their final pathways?

The study intents to historicise our departures, arrivals and importantly the period between both departure and arrival. As a community we have so far spent few efforts and resources on documenting the many stories of hardship, violence and displacement we have faced. With this project, we hope to counter the profound silence surrounding questions of migration amongst the Tamil community. To counter the erasure and silencing of our stories and voices, we aim to begin a meaningful conversation about our diasporic presence, identities and memories.

Please do lend us your support and keep your ears and eyes open for more news to follow.

‘Roots of Diaspora’ is on Facebook and Twitter (@rootsofdiaspora)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chiara Contrino permalink
    October 25, 2013 4:43 pm

    Hello Demelza, I read with great interest about the Tamils Network’s project “Roots of Diaspora”.

    I am the photographer who had an exhibition at SOAS Brunei gallery early this year, and a more recent one in Waltham Forest During the last year, I have been working on a project about the London’s Tamils diaspora from Sri Lanka; I collected several interviews from members of the community, recalling their personal experiences of events that led to their forced departure from their homeland. It is a small project; I am working pretty much on my own, although with some help and support from the community. I found it very difficult to interview people on this subject, for obvious reasons, but I was encouraged to continue by several Tamils who think there is the need to break the silence surrounding it.

    I am now in the process to make a small publication, with the material I collected and with some photographs. I am aware that the scope of my project scope is very limited; but I hope it could be of little help in raising awareness of the tragic history of Sri Lankan Tamils since the indipendence, or simply to acnowledge the suffering and injustices endured by the Tamils in this country.. Please, keep me informed about your work; I would be very happy to have your expert opinion about my project too, if you are interested.

    thank you

    Kind regards

    Chiara Contrino

    Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 11:17:50 +0000 To:

    • December 13, 2013 10:40 am

      Hi Chiara,

      Sorry for my late reply. Please do keep in touch about your project (my email is on the blog’s contact page). The roots project isn’t run by me or other academics who are part of the network, but is independently of us. You can learn more about that project and get in touch with its founders through their Facebook page.

      Best wishes,

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