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Island journeys: fisher itineraries and national imaginaries in Colombo

Radicati, Alessandra (2019) Island journeys: fisher itineraries and national imaginaries in Colombo. Contemporary South Asia, 27 (3). pp. 330-341. ISSN 0958-4935

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09584935.2019.1620685


This paper explores questions of mobility, ethnicity and spatial imaginaries in Sri Lanka through the experiences of fishermen in Mutuwall, a neighborhood of Colombo. While scholars of Sri Lanka have explored the historically contingent nature of Sri Lanka’s island-identity, this paper engages with the contemporary construction of island-ness through ethnographic fieldwork with twenty-first century residents of the city. Through fishers’ accounts of their pre-war itinerant lifestyles and their experiences living in the coastal High Security Zone during the civil conflict, this essay juxtaposes the free movement of fishers before the war with the heavily restricted movement they experienced at the height of the tensions between the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Fisher itineraries can be understood as dovetailing with state imaginaries of island-wide sovereignty even as they challenge it by describing subaltern movement through space. Ultimately, this paper suggests the importance of contemporary modes of ‘doing’ Indian Ocean studies.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: International Development
Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 28 May 2019 10:03
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:39

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