International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

The Subject of Return: Land and Livelihood Struggles for Place and Citizenship

Document Type

Article

Abstract

With the end of Sri Lanka's war in 2009 and even before, as the Sri Lankan Armed Forces captured and cleared Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam-controlled areas in the country's North and East, displaced families returned ‘home’ to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. However, the substantive reality of return shows that displacement does not end upon returning ‘home’. I demonstrate how the physical inability to access houses, land and resources renders return incomplete, how that ‘incompleteness’ is a constitutive part of how the returned create place and a sense of belonging, and negotiate their sense of self as Sri Lankan citizens. The subject of return is political; it is process and personhood. Through an examination of the subject of return and the claims and losses of the returned in the North and East, I show how displacement raises the question of the politics of return, the politics of which a postwar process of reconciliation must grapple with.

Publication Title

Contemporary South Asia

Publication Date

10-1-2016

Volume

24

Issue

4

First Page

387

Last Page

399

ISSN

0958-4935

DOI

10.1080/09584935.2015.1098589

Keywords

conflict-affected environments, displacement, land, resettlement and return, Sri Lanka

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