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Collaboration, suspicion and traitors: an exploratory study of intra-community relations in post-war Northern Sri Lanka

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This paper explores the manner in which the post-war strategy of militarisation, in particular surveillance and the recruitment of informants used by the government to control the conflict-affected population, has impacted Tamil society in the North. This strategy, which mirrored strategies used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in areas under their control, created suspicion, deepened existing intra-community cleavages and hampered efforts to rebuild trust and social relations in post-war Northern Sri Lanka. Despite this, communities found ways to construct alternate, albeit limited, spaces of trust to foster intra-community bonds.
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Contemporary South Asia
ISSN: 0958-4935 (Print) 1469-364X (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ccsa20
Collaboration, suspicion and traitors: an
exploratory study of intra-community relations in
post-war Northern Sri Lanka
Ambika Satkunanathan
To cite this article: Ambika Satkunanathan (2016) Collaboration, suspicion and traitors: an
exploratory study of intra-community relations in post-war Northern Sri Lanka, Contemporary South
Asia, 24:4, 416-428, DOI: 10.1080/09584935.2016.1252315
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2016.1252315
Published online: 23 Feb 2017.
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Collaboration, suspicion and traitors: an exploratory study of intra-
community relations in post-war Northern Sri Lanka
Ambika Satkunanathan*
Independent, Colombo, Sri Lanka
This paper explores the manner in which the post-war strategy of militarisation, in
particular surveillance and the recruitment of informants used by the government to
control the conict-affected population, has impacted Tamil society in the North. This
strategy, which mirrored strategies used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in
areas under their control, created suspicion, deepened existing intra-community
cleavages and hampered efforts to rebuild trust and social relations in post-war
Northern Sri Lanka. Despite this, communities found ways to construct alternate,
albeit limited, spaces of trust to foster intra-community bonds.
Keywords: militarisation; suspicion; collaboration; traitors; alternate spaces; rebuilding
intra-community trust; post-war Northern Sri Lanka
The post-war context in Sri Lanka
Since the end of the armed conict in Sri Lanka in May 2009, instead of addressing the
root causes and consequences of the conict, the government in power
1
prioritised infra-
structure development as part of its peace-through-development policy, and used militar-
isation, ethno-nationalist policies and repressive practices to deal with the conict-
affected population, religious minorities and dissenters. In the conict-affected areas,
militarisation was one of the key elements of the strategy used by the government to
control the population. Militarisation was hence normalised and became entrenched,
with the militarys extensive involvement in civilian affairs exceeding the boundaries
prescribed in a constitutional democracy. Furthermore, following the end of the war,
the state securitised certain identities (the Tamil population, particularly the youth and
former combatants) and geographical areas (the conict-affected areas, particularly the
Vanni). The state essentially presented these identities as existential threat[s] to the
referent object(Waever as cited in Abulof 2014, 396). This was then used to legitimise
and justify militarisation as the only means to counter threats posed by these securitised
areas and populations. The extra-judicial practices, ad hoc entities and processes from
the decades long existence of a state of emergency (SOE), which continued to remain
even following the lapse of the SOE in 2011, enabled the dual processes of securitisation
and militarisation (Anonymous, May 5, 2015). Even after the presidential election of
8 January 2015, and the subsequent change in government, the extra-legal security struc-
tures and practices are yet to be dismantled.
2
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
*Email: ambikasat@gmail.com
Contemporary South Asia, 2016
Vol. 24, No. 4, 416428, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2016.1252315
In Northern Sri Lanka, particularly the Vanni,
3
the dictates of the army run very deep,
with excessive scrutiny and surveillance, not only of the community and non-governmental
organisations, but also of any gathering of more than a handful of people. For instance, prior
notication was required to be given to the army of any meeting or workshop held. Even
when notication was given, if there were participants from outside the Vanni, sometimes
army ofcers attended the meeting and observed the proceedings. The Civil Affairs Ofce
(CAO), which is run by the military, is the best example of the entrenched presence and
participation of the military in civil affairs in the North. Created during the period
when residents of the Jaffna peninsula had to obtain passes to travel to the southern part
of the country, this ofce morphed into a one-stop monitoring and surveillance unit of
the army.
Alongside militarisation, the government aggressively built a hegemonic narrative of
the war that was solely about victory and the valiant soldier. There was no public acknowl-
edgement of the loss and grief experienced by civilians who lost family members in the
armed conict. With the glorication of the warrior-citizen, collective (majoritarian)
memory was created through celebrations of the war victory, military parades and the con-
struction of memorials to members of the Sri Lankan armed forces who died in battle. There
was, however, no space for civilians to organise public events to mourn the dead, or mem-
orials to commemorate the lives lost. Instead, each year on 19 May, the date that marks the
ofcial end of the war, the armed forces in the North actively prevented collective commu-
nity ceremonies (Social worker, Kilinochchi, December 18, 2013). These actions of the
government created a sense of alienation amongst communities in the conict-affected
areas. Communities viewed this state rhetoric and the governments supposed efforts at
reconciliation with scepticism. A university student described it thus:
There is no reconciliation in practice. Only pro-government papers speak of reconciliation. We
dont know what it means. People from the South are visiting Jaffna, which according to the
government constitutes reconciliation.
The focus of the paper
This paper explores the manner in which the Sri Lankan governments use of militarisation
as the main strategy to control the conict-affected population has impacted the ability of
the Tamil community to rebuild intra-community trust and repair fractured bonds in post-
war Sri Lanka. The paper will begin by discussing the notion of collaboration and the
reasons people collaborate to understand its complex and uid nature. Thereafter, the simi-
larities between the strategies used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) pre-
2009 and those of the Sri Lankan armed forces post-2009 to control the population
through surveillance will be studied. In this regard, Thiranagamas(2010) work, which
studies the construction of the notion of the traitorby the LTTE and its social impact,
will be used to analyse the way in which the collaborator, who was then viewed as a
traitor by the community, was created in the post-war North. This paper will then focus
on the impact of collaboration on intra-community trust and relations in the North. This
will involve using the extensive research on collaboration and its impact on intra-
community relations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as an illustrative aid, given
the similarities between the strategies used by the Israeli authorities and those used in
the post-war North in Sri Lanka.
Due to restrictions on the freedom of movement and military surveillance of community
and civil society activity in the conict-affected areas, particularly in certain parts of the
Contemporary South Asia 417
North, such as the Vanni, the obstacles to conducting research in these areas were consider-
able. Hence, limited research has been done to map the strategies used by the state in these
areas and their impact on intra-community relations. This paper hopes to make a modest
contribution towards addressing this gap.
Methodology
This paper is based on eldwork undertaken from December 2009 to April 2014 in the Kili-
nochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts in Northern Sri Lanka. While
the author conducted eldwork for different research, including the impact of militarisation
on women, the rehabilitation and re-integration of former combatants and the notion of
security as perceived by conict-affected communities, in all interviews the lack of trust
within the community due to militarisation, surveillance and the use of informants by the
military was a recurring theme throughout the entire period of research. This paper, there-
fore, has used data that emerged during this period to explore the formation of the notion of
collaborators and traitors and the manner in which it has impacted society in the North.
In the context of military surveillance, the author worked with trusted community
groups and individuals to identify interviewees based on their knowledge of community/
village dynamics. Individual interviews were conducted in homes, providing the intervie-
wee felt it was the safest space, or at ofces of community organisations in different
locations, particularly urbanised areas where it was not easy to identify a newcomer to
the area. Focus group meetings were held at ofces of organisations. At times, organisers
felt condent they could meet at locations known to be spaces where meetings of savings
groups or rural development societies were regularly held. This would either not attract the
attention of intelligence ofcers, or if they visited, they would see persons known to them,
and would leave after inquiring about the purpose of the meeting. During the ve-year
period, data were gathered through number of focus group discussions (14), and individual
interviews with number of persons chosen through purposive sampling (98).
The uidity and complexity of collaboration: reasons people collaborate
Although the common meaning of collaboration is to cooperate, scholars in African history
were among the rst to problematize the neutrality of collaboration, raising questions
about its role among political elites and everyday people in acquiring, mediating or relin-
quishing power in Colonial Africa(Camacho 2008, 209). Collaboration was therefore
understood as a method, which enabled a numerically small group with few troops, to
control a large population. It has been pointed out that collaboration is a dynamic, unstable
and constructed category, and dening it is difcult as it is based on moral and social
rather than legal understandings, and change[s] over time(Dudai and Cohen 2007, 42).
The uid nature of the concepts of heroand traitorwithin the Tamil polity, in which
it has not been uncommon for those labelled traitorsto label others traitorsat some
other point, is evidence of it. For example, in post-war Sri Lanka, high-prole members
of the LTTE, who in the past would have been complicit in declaring people traitors to
the Tamil cause because they were either critical of or not supportive enough of the
LTTE, publicly criticised the LTTE and praised the government, with which they
pledged to collaborate.
The Palestinian context offers an example of collaboration being used effectively to
support the control of a population, with scholars identifying collaboration as an indispen-
sable tool for the practice of domination due to the services that collaborators provide
418 A. Satkunanathan
(Sadi 2005, 9). These services that collaborators provide would constitute not only infor-
mation/intelligence on persons or activities viewed as threats, but also myriad mapping of
social relationships that can be used to gain information and leverage against a specic
subject(Dahan 2012, 27). Social mapping is a key factor that undermines trust within com-
munities and creates suspicion. In the North, enlisting or co-opting members of the commu-
nity to engage in/support activities such as organising cultural events on behalf of and/or
sponsored by the military expands the militarys reach within the community and
enables them to undertake social mapping. Another means through which this is done is
via civil security committees constituted of civilians and established by the police, which
function as surveillance bodies for security agencies. These groups are issued identity
cards signed by the ofcer-in-charge of the local police station, and are asked to report any-
thing of signicance that takes place in the village whether a new visitor, or an event held
by a civil society organisation (CSO). Although the group consists of community leaders
and even CSO employees, the common perception and fear are that certain members
may be acting as police informants.
Sadi states collaborators perform two additional functions: they assist those in charge
of the population to make decisions about the imposition of sanctions or entitlement for
benets and they mediate between the regime and the local population(2005, 9). In
Sri Lanka, during the years of the war, Tamil politico-armed groups that were aligned
with the government levied money from Tamils to secure the release of those who had
been arrested or disappeared by state forces. They also, often for a fee, assisted populations
in receiving preferential treatment from state actors, particularly the military. For instance,
when the North was under military lockdown and cut off from the rest of the country, they
would help obtain military approval to travel from the Jaffna peninsula to the Southern part
of the country.
Even where there is no visible military presence, practices established through the mili-
tarisation of the conict-affected areas have created the belief that an extensive and deep-
seated surveillance mechanism exists in the North and will result in punitive measures
against those who are perceived to contravene the diktats of the military. In this context,
the motivations of such collaborators deserve analysis. Speaking of the Palestinian
context, Dudai and Cohen (2007, 40) point out that the motives for collaboration were
always varied, ranging from pressure or blackmail to personal gains, due to ideological dis-
agreement with the political leadershipor due to disagreements, friendships, or alli-
ances of a local nature. Collaboration is said to also be a cheap pathway to inuence
that groups are likely to use regardless of ideology, so long as the occupier offers them
power(Miller 2013, 6). This is echoed by a social worker in the North who said:
the trend in Jaffna is you are powerful if you are with the army. People always invite the army
commander to any function. You cant do anything without them. Also, the presence of the
army commander means you will not encounter problems obtaining permission to hold the
event.
Collaboration is also a survival strategy, as illustrated by community behaviour both in the
LTTE-controlled areas and in the post-war period. When the armed conict escalated and
the LTTE became increasingly authoritarian and repressive, people began to nd coping
mechanisms to manage daily life, which often entailed self-centred survival strategies
that included informing the LTTE of the transgressions of others. For instance, an elderly
woman, who during the last stages of the war hid several children in the forest to
prevent them from being forcibly recruited by the LTTE, stated that the children were
Contemporary South Asia 419
found by the LTTE due to information about the hideout being provided by someone in the
village. Echoing this, a young woman who was forcibly recruited stated it was not possible
to hide from the LTTE to escape recruitment, as neighbours would inform the LTTE. This
was likely done to prove their loyalty to the LTTE and thereby prevent the forced recruit-
ment of their own family members. At the end of the armed conict, the same survival strat-
egies were employed by several persons to distance themselves from the LTTE and show
their loyalty to the state forces. For instance, a young man who was released from a govern-
ment-run rehabilitation centre for former combatants said he had witnessed senior LTTE
cadres pointing out LTTE members to the military at the internally displaced person
(IDP) camps, most likely in the hope they themselves would be treated leniently by the mili-
tary. Many persons who were forcibly recruited by the LTTE during the last stages of the
war, during the last days and who had not engaged in combat said they had surrendered to
the army because they were afraid others in the camps for IDPs would inform the army
about them. A number of former LTTE combatants also stated that they believed
members of the LTTE who had abused their powers and mistreated the public were
afraid of reprisals from the public in the post-war period, and hence forged relationships
with the army to protect themselves. Non-LTTE armed groups aligned themselves with
the state as a survival strategy in response to LTTE threats. This strategy has been used
by successive Sri Lankan governments to conduct intelligence gathering, function as para-
militaries, and carry out abductions and interrogate persons suspected of being supporters of
and collaborating with the LTTE (Jeyraj 2006). This strategy, however, forced anti-LTTE
Tamils into a dependent relationship with the Lankan state, which made them vulnerable
to the conjunctural needs and ideological predispositions of the powers that be(Gunase-
kera 2008).
Economic necessity is another factor that forces people to collaborate (Kucherenko
2008). For reasons ranging from difculty obtaining loans, since banks or other institutions
require guarantors, which former combatants are unable to secure, to lack of employment
opportunities, former combatants have found economic reintegration particularly difcult
(Miriyagalla 2014). This meant that these former combatants became prime targets for
recruitment as informants. Therefore, collaboration is not a one-off event but can be the
product of many small-scale treacheries forced on people as they try to feed their children
or provide for their families(Kelly and Tiranagama 2010, 20).
It is not uncommon for informants to use their power to settle personal scores. During
conict, environments rich in social capital, including small villages with their supreme
intimacycan also breed less visible but nevertheless intense conict(Kalyvas 2006, 352).
In such contexts, public disaster provides the opportunity for private prot(Kalyvas 2006,
338). For instance, an organisation in Jaffna stated that a villager who held a position of
responsibility and was associated with their community construction project informed
the military of the project, for which they had not obtained the approval of government of-
cials, because he had ongoing conict with the eld assistant employed by the organisation
in that village.
The Tamil community viewed a wide range of acts as constituting collaboratingwith
the military, including working for military-run organisations, such as the Civil Security
Department (CSD), and agricultural farms. Yet this community also understood the com-
plexity and uidity of the lived realities of those who were already marginalised and dis-
empowered. Nevertheless, this often did not prevent them from viewing the person as
suspicious and distancing themselves from such persons. For instance, many interviewees
when speaking of the lack of livelihood opportunities in the conict-affected areas pointed
to women nding employment primarily in different sections of the military machinery,
420 A. Satkunanathan
such as the CSD, but in the same breath also said these women thereafter could not be
trusted as they most likely were providing information to the military.
Mirroring the past: commonalities between strategies used by the LTTE and the
military
This section will study the commonalities between the strategies used by the LTTE (pre-
2009) to control the population, and those used by the Sri Lankan military (post-2009),
and their impact on trust within the community. In this regard, the work of Sharika Thira-
nagama traces the construction of traitorby the LTTE, its impact on Tamil society, politi-
cal culture and intimacy, and the ways in which intimacy becomes constantly reformulated
as people search for a way of being social with each other(Thiranagama 2010, 129). These
are useful analytical tools.
Although a number of armed groups came into being at the inception of the Tamil armed
struggle, by the mid-late 1980s, following internecine violence, the LTTE emerged as the
dominant player and the self-proclaimed sole representative of the Tamils. The LTTEsde-
nition of collaboration included not only active support of the government and the military,
but also those considered not to be adequately supportive of the LTTE as well as moderates,
a view commonly adopted in ethno-national conicts (Dudai and Cohen 2007, 44). Treason
was portrayed as an act against both the LTTE, as well as ones homeland (Thiranagama
2010, 133), and ones own self as a Tamil (136).
The relationship of the Tamil people with the LTTE was, and remains, a highly complex
and sensitive matter. This relationship encompassed a nuanced spectrum of opinion within
the Tamil community. Some unequivocally supported both the LTTEs ideological stance
and methods, while others, faced with a state unresponsive to their political aspirations, tol-
erated the LTTE in instrumental terms. Others still, given the LTTEs position in regard to
dissent and political pluralism, simply had no choice whether or not to conform. Post-war
and post-LTTE, there is yet to be reconciliation within the Tamil community on this issue.
In this context, the states attempts to impose collective amnesia on the Tamil population in
relation to the LTTE, while simultaneously using the LTTE as a justication for the repres-
sive policies that were being implemented, particularly in the conict-affected areas, only
reinforced certain coping mechanisms that had come into being in the LTTE-controlled
areas.
Thiranagama (2010) documents the methods used by the LTTE to monitor and control
cadres and the general population, which created mistrust within Tamil society and
destroyed social networks of trust. For instance, she says that LTTE intelligence encour-
aged people to inform on their neighbours, kin and fellow cadres(Thiranagama 2010,
129). In the post-war North, the military has made similar inroads into the very heart of
communities. An interviewee working for a human rights organisation in Kilinochchi
(March 10, 2014) said that when a eld assistant was interviewing her relative who
was a former combatant, after advising the assistant not to get into trouble by engaging
in human rights work, he told her he was a military informant, and was warning her
instead of informing the military about her activities only because they were related. Fur-
thermore, like the Sri Lankan military, through multiple means, the LTTE militarised civi-
lian space through which these informant networks functioned (Thiranagama 2010, 130).
Thiranagama says the LTTE functioned on the premise that everyone had a natal village
a cadre was stationed in each village and would maintain a diary to keep track of the
movements and activities in the village through informants. A close analysis of the Sri
Lankan militarys tactics illustrates that they too function on the same premise in
Contemporary South Asia 421
every village, or close to most villages, a military ofce or checkpoint was established,
and military intelligence ofcers would gather information through patrols as well as
informants. When meetings or social events were held, men in civilian clothing on
bicycles would arrive at the venue, interrogate the organisers and note details in a
diary/notebook. Also, if a person was arrested or detained at a location other than his/
her village, the rst point of inquiry would be the intelligence ofce in the persons
village. This would result in an almost immediate visit to the persons home by intelli-
gence ofcers to conduct further inquiries.
Impact of collaboration on the community
Since the end of the war, new alliances that were formed between certain sections of the
Tamil population and the military created suspicion: Talk of collaboration and collabor-
ators was everywhere accusations and counter-accusations were spread in a cycle of
rumour and gossip(Kelly 2010, 183). Although accusations of being informants are
often indirect and insinuated the opaqueness of these accusations meantthe persons
against whom the allegations were made were never entirely trusted(Kelly 2010, 182).
The author has come across numerous instances when the community, and even fellow acti-
vists, suspected other activists in the North of being military informants. This was either due
to the sudden abatement of the military harassment of the activist, the release of a relative
who was arrested or the activist being able to engage in dissent openly without overt mili-
tary reprisals or censure, leading to the conjecture that the person had made a dealwith the
authorities in return for protection.
Due to monitoring and surveillance by the military, and the deep sense of insecurity and
mistrust that existed within the community, any member of the community who may have a
relationship or connection with the military was viewed with suspicion. Thiranagama says,
the LTTEs maintenance of informal networks of informers and loyalties meant that
knowing who was LTTE and who was civilian was very difcult, meaning that people
did not know whom they could trust (2010, 141). Similarly, the Sri Lankan militarys main-
tenance of informant networks has had the same impact and eroded trust within the com-
munity. In this context, certain groups, such as former LTTE combatants, are more
susceptible to being viewed as suspicious by the community. This is so since they had to
register with the CAO and then report back to sign-in on a weekly, fortnightly or
monthly basis, depending on the edict of the local commander. This created suspicion
within the community that they were functioning as military informants, hence hampering
the former combatants social reintegration. A former woman combatant from Jaffna
(December 2011) bemoaned the inability to trust ones neighbours. She pointed out that
when she was summoned to an army camp for interrogation, the army ofcer who interro-
gated her told her she had been summoned because they had received a letter from her
village that she was providing information to outsiders.
Many former combatants who had not surrendered to the military and hence had not
been sent to rehabilitation camps expressed fear of being detained or summoned by the
army due to informants passing information about their links to the LTTE. A woman
former cadre living in Jaffna (February 2011) stated that she did not want to return to
her native village in Kilinochchi in the former rebel-controlled area, as LTTE cadres
from the area were known to be working with the military. She knew that she would be
subject to harassment. She further said, when people ask her where she is from, if she
says she is from Kilinochchi they immediately query if she was recruited by the LTTE,
and expressed her frustration thus:
422 A. Satkunanathan
One cant go on answering these questions; if you answer they will immediately tell everyone
else that I was recruited and it will affect me adversely. Now I dont ever use the word Kilinoch-
chi. I say I am from Jaffna. If I dont go to sign-in then people will inform the military. Our
people are not united.
Thiranagama (2010) argues that the LTTEs pervasive presence resulted in the dismem-
berment of networks of trust that had existed between families and within villages(2010,
138), and the only persons who were viewed as trustworthy were ones family. In the post-
war context, the surveillance and use of informants by the military stretched even close lial
bonds to the breaking point. A young woman from Jaffna, who was released from a reha-
bilitation centre, during an interview in December 2010, said her parents tried to arrange a
marriage with her cousin. This marriage arrangement was unsuccessful since the grooms
family was not agreeable to the match, the reason being that she was going to the CAO
to sign-in. Because of this, they feared if she were to be detained or harassed by the military,
their son would also be affected. The woman asked with sadness, if ones family does this
then what will others do?Another former combatant from Vavuniya during an interview in
May 2011, who was living in Jaffna away from his family who were in Kilinochchi in order
to attend catch-up classes, said his relatives in Jaffna were afraid to allow him to live with
them. This is because they were concerned about possible entanglements with and harass-
ment by the armed forces, in case he was detained or summoned for interrogation by the
military.
Cohen, using the example of Palestine, states that the informant/collaborator is recruited
not only for the purpose of gathering information, but also for creating mistrust, spreading
confusion and undermining collective self-condencewithin society (2007, 41). As has
been illustrated, this secondary purpose was achieved in Northern Sri Lanka, particularly
in the Vanni, due to which already marginalised vulnerable groups that required support
were sidelined because of the prevailing atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. Working
with the families of the disappeared, the differently abled
4
and former LTTE cadres, for
example, was viewed with trepidation, as these activities were known to attract excessive
monitoring by the security forces.
Military surveillance and recruitment of informants hence increased a sense of disem-
powerment within the Tamil community. Military visits to homes, workplaces and even
private events, such as weddings and puberty ceremonies, on the pretext of ascertaining
whether any anti-government activities are taking place, exacerbated the sense of helpless-
ness and vulnerability of the community, as no space was felt to be safe. The homes of
former combatants, in particular, were subject to military incursions at all hours of the
day and night. During such visits, the military spends an inordinate amount of time inter-
rogating the person and his/her family members, and at times also searches the house,
including rummaging through cupboards, drawers and creating disarray. The aim of
these visits can be construed to generate deterrence and fear, and is a way of demonstrat-
ing control. Parallels can be drawn between these visits and those undertaken by the
Israeli army in the Occupied Territories, which are explained by an Israeli army ofcer
thus: The army cant be everywhere all the time, so at least we show them that we can
enter their homes anytime we want. The private spaces become public, and broken
spaces devoid of privacy, thereby demonstrating control in its most personal and immedi-
ate form(Gazit 2009, 95). The military is therefore able to control the behaviour of the
population even in the absence of a visible physical uniformed military presence, as
these forms of monitoring function as a panopticon (Foucault 1977).
Contemporary South Asia 423
As traitors are [a] source of internal transgression they call into question the moral
and political commitments of those who seem to be closest to us(Kelly and Tiranagama
2010, 2; Kelly 2010, 183). In short, suspicion causes great fear and anguish within the com-
munity. Like in Palestine, where the recruitment of informers created a culture of suspi-
cion, which impeded the building of a Palestinian civil society, and hampered the
emergence of groups and individuals who genuinely pursued moderate agendas(Dudai
and Cohen 2007, 49), in Sri Lanka too it has torn the fabric of the moral community
(Gross quoted in Dudai and Cohen 2007, 50; Cohen and Dudai 2005). In turn, it has desta-
bilised Tamil society in conict-affected areas. In such a context, it becomes important for
the society that people be untainted by connections to the military. Hence, it is not uncom-
mon to hear people speak of the need to nd those who are considered clean people(Pas-
quetti 2013, 481), with whom to work and engage. This environment of mistrust and the
inability to nd people who could be trusted resulted in the public and even community
leaders becoming silent and showing reluctance to participate in civic activities or be
vocal on community issues. In general, people appeared to prefer to remain silent and
non-involved(Somasunderam and Sivayokan 2013, 11). Hence, there was a collapse of
vital networks and functioning relationships, and people were seen to
have become passive and submissive. These qualities have become part of the survival strategy
passed on through the socialization process, where children are taught to keep quiet, not to
question or challenge, and to accept the situation, as assertive behaviour carries considerable
risk. The creative spirit, the vital capacity to rebuild and recover is being suppressed. (Soma-
sunderam 2010, 575)
Due to this, similar to the way in which civilians censored themselves, with or without
enforcement, in the face of the seeming omniscience, secrecy, and unpredictability of
LTTE power(Thiranagama 2010, 142), in post-war Sri Lanka too, the war-affected popu-
lation maintained stoic silence in the face of the seemingly ever-present, omnipotent Sri
Lankan armed forces.
The environment of mistrust leads the community to search for collaborators who
would then be socially ostracised or expelled, after which a sense of security would be
regained, at least momentarily, by the community. The search for collaborators can also
be used as a means of social control and censure. For instance, during the rst intifada, a
movement of Puritanism and social revengegripped the Palestinians, who
took the view that the behavior of individuals should conform to the principles and objectives
of the political revolution and people who contravened the moral order created a aw in the
wider community, one that could be exploited by the occupying power. (Dudai and Cohen
2007, 44)
Similarly, in post-war Northern Sri Lanka, particularly in the Vanni, narratives abound of
the armed forces plying young men with alcohol, drugs and pornography, not only to
entice them to become informants, but also to destroy the moral values and culture of
the Tamil community. Somasunderam and Sivayokan mention that in the North, there
appeared to be a general perception the ethical and moral climate in communities was dete-
riorating rapidly compared to how tightly controlled(kaddu-paadu) it had been under the
LTTE(2013, 12). These perceptions of moral decline exacerbate the insecurity felt by the
community, and only serve to increase suspicion and erode community bonds, as those who
are viewed as contributing to the communitys social and moral decline are also seen to be
aiding the control of the population by the state through militarised surveillance.
424 A. Satkunanathan
The mistrust and deep divisions that existed within the Tamil community were exacer-
bated by the alliance between the government and non-LTTE Tamil armed groups. Groups
such as the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam and the Eelam Peoples Demo-
cratic Party (EPDP), which worked with the government, were viewed by a large section of
the community as collaborators and traitors. A woman displaced from the Vanni, and inter-
viewed while living in displacement in Kayts in the Jaffna peninsula in 2010, said in her
locality the army continued to discover explosives, which she said the community believed
were buried by the EPDP under the instruction of the army as an excuse to conduct security
checks in the community and harass people.
The restrictive post-war environment has also led to the creation of new others/traitors,
who are identied by the Tamil community as exacerbating intra-community suspicion and
mistrust. For instance, a number of interviewees mentioned that certain villages in the
Vanni, which they said were inhabited by Tamils from the Hill Country who had moved
to the Vanni over several decades following anti-Tamil riots in other parts of the country,
were opportunistic and working with the army. They claimed that these villages which
were previously extremely loyal to the LTTE, and constituted a large number of Maveerar
families (families of those killed during battle), were becoming loyal to the Sri Lankan mili-
tary in the post-war period. Even employees of non-governmental agencies working on
community development and human rights claimed that within a few minutes of arriving
at one of these villages, one can be assured the military would be at the location to make
inquiries about the purpose and nature of their visit, leading them to conclude the villagers
function as informants.
Formation of alternate spaces of trust and support
Navigating these spaces of suspicion and mistrust is complex and fraught with the possi-
bility of ever-present danger. The author, for instance, was aware that any interviewee
could be an informant. This awareness of possible danger was particularly acute when inter-
viewees were former combatants. Such a context requires people to make difcult, and
sometimes paradoxical, trade-offs in order to feel secure and maintain community bonds,
even if only in tenuous ways. Relations between persons are hence sometimes built on
unsubstantiated assumptions that could very quickly lead to situations that place ones
life and/or liberty in danger. For instance, there have been instances when a persons
relationship with the military has been a public secret, yet the person is not feared or ostra-
cised because the person shows he is doing so only due to compulsion. This illustrates
loyalty to the community through other acts, such as helping human rights organisations
document violations and assisting community members to access services. In one case,
the individual was very popular amongst the villagers as they felt he could be relied
upon to assist them regardless of the seriousness of the problem. It became clear that an
unspoken understandingexisted between the person and the community the person
would provide adequate information to the military to safeguard himself, but at the same
time would not do anything which would cause trouble for the villagers. His acts of assist-
ance and kindness seemed to be his way of showing the villagers he cared about their well-
being, and that he was functioning as an informant only due to compulsion. Yet at the same
time, everyone was aware that the relationship always contained the potential for danger, as
it depended on the demands made by the military on the informant, and what he may be
compelled to do to safeguard his interests. This case is different from collaborators
acting as gate-keepers to services and functioning as interlocutors between the military
and the population, since in this instance the individual does so without seeking or receiving
Contemporary South Asia 425
any material gain. In this context, the individual does so only to maintain his bonds with,
and place within the community, rather than to gain status or power. Such a relationship
built on an unspoken understanding could be viewed as an alternate space of trust,
however fragile, that has been created in an environment of suspicion and danger.
The more straightforward alternate spaces of trust that are completely delinked from the
military have been created by women in the North, who historically throughout the armed
conict have created such alternate spaces to counter and deal with the violence and impact
of the war (Anonymous, May 12, 2012). During times of deep mistrust, such as during the
period of internecine violence in the North, these spaces provided women some form of
support and protection. Similarly, in the post-war North, although family bonds have wea-
kened, one nds the emergence of informal groups that are loose-knit, which have decen-
tralised forms of communication, and have minimal formal structures of leadership (Norris
2002, 142). As Coleman states, an organization that was initiated for one purpose is avail-
able for [the] appropriation for other purposes, constituting important social capital for the
individual members, who have available to the organization are sources necessary for effec-
tive opposition(Coleman 1988, 108). In the conict-affected North, women have formed
collectives, such as savings groups, which have later spawned into community networks
that make interventions in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, to provide mutual
economic, social and emotional support, despite restrictions on freedom of association.
Hence, even though not all who are part of these groups might have come together with
a commitment to achieving political change, in time the groups have evolved to respond
to social issues.
Despite the risks, women come together with those who have experienced similar inse-
curities (Stern-Pettersson 1997, 133). They do so because collective spaces, which are
neither perfect nor always fully functional, nevertheless serve as networks and a means
of collectively negotiating with the state, the military and most often even society.
Women invite other women to be part of these groups who have suffered similar losses
and hardships for instance, women who have been harassed by the military, or women
who are seen struggling without any support. There have been instances when certain
women in positions susceptible to being approached by the military to be informants
(such as former women combatants without livelihood and taking care of elderly parents
and the children of siblings who were killed during the war) would be approached by
these groups to provide support to prevent the person from collaborating with the military
due to economic necessity. If an act of violence is perpetrated against a woman, the member
of the collective who lives in the village would contact others for advice, and receive
support lodging a complaint and accessing remedies and services. These collectives have
links with legal aid providers and rights activists, which enable them to be in a better pos-
ition than the average villager to access remedies. Although many of these collectives
existed in the Vanni during the LTTE era, at the time they functioned solely as savings
groups, post-war they have become more engaged in rights issues and even local advocacy.
Conclusion
Collaboration of the community with those who are considered as victors/occupiers can be
superimposed on pre-existing political cleavages, or it can create new cleavages (Kalyvas
2008, 110). In Sri Lanka, as a result of Tamil militancy and the armed conict, numerous
cleavages already existed within the Tamil community. In pre-2009 LTTE-controlled areas,
concern about the disruption of unity by traitors led to surveillance, which only resulted in
creating mistrust. In the post-war phase, these ssures have deepened and assumed new
426 A. Satkunanathan
forms people cope with the daily pressures of living in a heavily militarised environment
with a new, and, in the case of the Vanni, previously unknown and much feared and reviled
actor, the Sri Lankan military, in charge. Increased militarisation and the use of surveillance
and informants by the military have weakened intra-community relations, and undermined
nascent efforts to rebuild trust and social relations and trust within the Tamil community.
However, within this atmosphere, people particularly women have created alternate
spaces of trust and support.
The post-war context in Sri Lanka illustrates the continuum between conict and post-
conict, which in many instances is due to the fact where although states of emergency that
existed during conict periods no longer exist in law.. Consequently, the state of exception
created by the state of emergency continues to exist, with a number of undemocratic and
informal practices that violate rights becoming normalised. Although the bulk of the
paper was written prior to the regime change in Sri Lanka on 8 January 2015, the continued
existence of multiple unofcial and informal security structures, the failure to initiate any
form of security sector reform and the continued monitoring and harassment to which
civil society activists in the North and East are being subjected exhibit not only the
deeply entrenched nature of the security mechanisms and the state of exception, but also
the long period of transition from conict to post-conict, and from repressive to demo-
cratic regimes. Hence, it is imperative that there is recognition of this reality, so that inter-
ventions are suitably crafted to address the myriad of complexities that continue in post-war
Sri Lanka.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author.
Notes
1. The presidential election held on 8 January 2015 was won by the common opposition candidate
Maithripala Sirisena, and led to the installation of a new government. This was followed by par-
liamentary elections in August 2015, following which a coalition government led by the United
National Party (UNP) came into power.
2. As of September 2015.
3. The areas formerly in the control of the LTTE are referred to as the Vanni; they consist of Kili-
nochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar.
4. Following the end of the armed conict, the government prevented civil society from working
with those disabled by the war as it was thought human rights groups would gather information
on the extent of civilian casualties. The government feared this would be used to strengthen alle-
gations that the government had violated international humanitarian and human rights law during
the last phases of the war.
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... Such perceptions have not only legitimised the surveillance and disciplining of women's bodies and minds in the name of communal/national 'morality' and 'honour' but they have also re-inscribed the expectation that whatever women may do, they are primarily mothers and wives (Hyndman and de Alwis 2004, 541-542) However, it is not only unconventional agency (conveyed through 'too independent', for instance) that alienates former female combatants in the post-war society. In the case of Sri Lanka, in particular, the alienation of former cadreboth women and menhave been also due to the oppressive militarisation of the north, which eroded the networks of trust within northern Tamil communities and created an urgent need within people to distance themselves from individuals framed in dominant statist discourse as 'security threats' in order to avoid inviting military scrutiny and surveillance through association (Satkunanathan 2016(Satkunanathan , 2018. In The Seasons of Trouble, this tense space of suspicion and threat within which former militants are placed by rampant militarisation and invasive surveillance is captured in the line ' … too dangerous for any family'. ...
... Several cases have been reported of government-sanctioned torture and sexual violence aimed at Tamil civilians and figures who publicly challenge the government's actions, including journalists (Human Rights Watch 2015, 2018; Kandasamy et al. 2020). It, further, entrenched inequality among some of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka such as Tamil women (Samararatne et al. 2018;Satkunanathan 2016;Kandasamy et al. 2020). ...
Chapter
This chapter provides the background information about the Sri Lankan society, its ethnic composition and religious diversity. Migration which is a common feature in the country has also been detailed. Apart from this, the different aspects of the civil war are demonstrated including the roots of conflict and its aftermath. The post-war scenario in the Northern part of the country has been highlighted which has been used as a contextual framework for the empirical findings. This part also helps to learn more about historical and contemporary social and cultural dimensions of Jaffna’s Tamil life and explores how these have been analysed and discussed in the literature which has provided some more differentiated knowledge about the significance of ‘home’ in Tamil life. The idea of return, among the DPs in their places of displacement, has also been taken into account. Towards the end, this chapter also locates the DPs who are trying to migrate to Australia, illegally, to have a better future. Finally, the chapter concludes with the reconstruction and development programmes taken up by the Government with the support of various NGOs and INGOs.
... Several cases have been reported of government-sanctioned torture and sexual violence aimed at Tamil civilians and figures who publicly challenge the government's actions, including journalists (Human Rights Watch 2015, 2018; Kandasamy et al. 2020). It, further, entrenched inequality among some of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka such as Tamil women (Samararatne et al. 2018;Satkunanathan 2016;Kandasamy et al. 2020). ...
Chapter
This chapter reveals and discusses the different ways in which people voice their relationship to ‘Ur’. I differentiate six different dimensions, whereupon I take cases of individuals (and partly also their family members) as the starting point for the analysis. The voices of people range from those who have migrated back to Jaffna to those who would never imagine returning. I have also displayed the cases of Muslims who were expelled from Jaffna in the 1990s and whose memories are in stark contrast to earlier times, not only because the war has changed the place in general, but also because their position as a minority stipulates social integration even further. The case of camp people particularly reveals the significance of social status and how this is linked to place. Pfaffenberger’s (1981: 1145–1157) important ethnographical studies have provided background knowledge here which have enabled me to provide a more in-depth analysis of what the notion of ‘Ur’ actually means. And finally, in displaying the actual negotiations people undertake to find a way to get along with their relationship to their place of origin in past and present, the chapter hints at the necessity to differentiate different dimensions of belonging (e.g. emotional and rational, …).
... Several cases have been reported of government-sanctioned torture and sexual violence aimed at Tamil civilians and figures who publicly challenge the government's actions, including journalists (Human Rights Watch 2015, 2018; Kandasamy et al. 2020). It, further, entrenched inequality among some of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka such as Tamil women (Samararatne et al. 2018;Satkunanathan 2016;Kandasamy et al. 2020). ...
Book
This book focuses on the concept of ‘home’ or ‘place of origin’ (expressed in Tamil as ‘Ur’) and its various dimensions, in turn related to issues of belonging, attachment, detachment, and commonality among the war-affected population in the post-war era of Sri Lanka. Little research has been undertaken on displacement and forced migration since the end of the war, and so this book provides new insight into the intersections between externally and internally displaced people and notions of home in relation to gender, age, caste and class. It excavates the roots of the problem of not being able to return due to combinations of uncertainty, unemployment, and the loss of people and property. The author shows that notions of ‘home’ vary considerably depending on multiple variables, and this is particularly pronounced between the different generations. The book also confronts how the migration from Sri Lanka over the border to India has brought on discernible changes to the lives of women in particular, in transforming their identities in multiple re-invented cultural manifestations, and cultivating a new kind of attachment towards their new homes. Interdisciplinary in tenor, this book will be of interest to scholars in development studies with a focus on South Asia, as well as graduate students and researchers in the fields of migration, conflict studies, Sri Lanka studies, and sociology. It may also have an impact on policymakers owing to its comprehensive, empirically-based analysis of the consequences of the Sri Lankan civil war for Tamils.
... Several cases have been reported of government-sanctioned torture and sexual violence aimed at Tamil civilians and figures who publicly challenge the government's actions, including journalists (Human Rights Watch 2015, 2018; Kandasamy et al. 2020). It, further, entrenched inequality among some of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka such as Tamil women (Samararatne et al. 2018;Satkunanathan 2016;Kandasamy et al. 2020). ...
... Several cases have been reported of government-sanctioned torture and sexual violence aimed at Tamil civilians and figures who publicly challenge the government's actions, including journalists (Human Rights Watch 2015, 2018; International Crisis Group 2012). It, further, entrenched inequality among some of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka such as Tamil women (Samararatne et al. 2018;Satkunanathan 2016). ...
Chapter
This chapter reveals and discusses the different ways in which people voice their relationship to ‘Ur’. I differentiate six different dimensions, whereupon I take cases of individuals (and partly also their family members) as the starting point for the analysis. The voices of people range from those who have migrated back to Jaffna to those who would never imagine returning. I have also displayed the cases of Muslims who were expelled from Jaffna in the 1990s and whose memories are in stark contrast to earlier times, not only because the war has changed the place in general, but also because their position as a minority stipulates social integration even further. The case of camp people particularly reveals the significance of social status and how this is linked to place. Pfaffenberger’s (1981: 1145–1157) important ethnographical studies have provided background knowledge here which have enabled me to provide a more in-depth analysis of what the notion of ‘Ur’ actually means. And finally, in displaying the actual negotiations people undertake to find a way to get along with their relationship to their place of origin in past and present, the chapter hints at the necessity to differentiate different dimensions of belonging (e.g. emotional and rational, …).
... Several cases have been reported of government-sanctioned torture and sexual violence aimed at Tamil civilians and figures who publicly challenge the government's actions, including journalists (Human Rights Watch 2015, 2018; International Crisis Group 2012). It, further, entrenched inequality among some of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka such as Tamil women (Samararatne et al. 2018;Satkunanathan 2016). ...
Chapter
This chapter situates the question, How do the Displaced Persons (DPs) construct the notion of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ and lays out pertinent academic debates revolving around displacement, home and belonging. Consisting of several sub-sections, this chapter provides a brief synopsis of the Sri Lankan historical context and relates to the Tamil notion of ‘Ur’. Hence, by relating to former works broadly on the same topic, the research gap is defined. Furthermore, while stating the aim, the main argument of the book has been documented: for the elderly, memories of home create a strong desire to return to their Ur. By contrast, younger people are reluctant to return because of the painful memories they associate with their former homes at wartimes. In between, the middle generations are stuck with both memories of their homes and of eviction. The narratives also portray the choices of elements namely, social relations, nature, culture, identity, social status, economic benefits, retrospective memories, imprisonment, estrangement and threats, that make home for them. In addition, this chapter also briefs about the research methods used. Finally, the structure of the book is described at the end in a clear and concise manner.
... Several cases have been reported of government-sanctioned torture and sexual violence aimed at Tamil civilians and figures who publicly challenge the government's actions, including journalists (Human Rights Watch 2015, 2018; International Crisis Group 2012). It, further, entrenched inequality among some of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka such as Tamil women (Samararatne et al. 2018;Satkunanathan 2016). ...
Book
This book focuses on the concept of ‘home’ or ‘place of origin’ (expressed in Tamil as ‘Ur’) and its various dimensions, in turn related to issues of belonging, attachment, detachment, and commonality among the war-affected population in the post-war era of Sri Lanka. Little research has been undertaken on displacement and forced migration since the end of the war, and so this book provides new insight into the intersections between externally and internally displaced people and notions of home in relation to gender, age, caste and class. It excavates the roots of the problem of not being able to return due to combinations of uncertainty, unemployment, and the loss of people and property. The author shows that notions of ‘home’ vary considerably depending on multiple variables, and this is particularly pronounced between the different generations. The book also confronts how the migration from Sri Lanka over the border to India has brought on discernible changes to the lives of women in particular, in transforming their identities in multiple re-invented cultural manifestations, and cultivating a new kind of attachment towards their new homes. Interdisciplinary in tenor, this book will be of interest to scholars in development studies with a focus on South Asia, as well as graduate students and researchers in the fields of migration, conflict studies, Sri Lanka studies, and sociology. It may also have an impact on policymakers owing to its comprehensive, empirically-based analysis of the consequences of the Sri Lankan civil war for Tamils.
Article
In 2015, Donna Haraway introduced the Plantationocene concept as an alternative to the Anthropocene in Environmental Humanities. Engaging Black feminist scholars who were thinking about the plantation before Haraway's Plantationocene, this article argues that a transregional centering of Black feminist scholarship within plantation studies is a mutually productive and ethical endeavor that affirms the rightful place of Black feminist scholars in the field of anthropology and builds more robust transnational feminist forms of restorative justice. Analyzing Black, Indigenous and feminist critiques of the Plantationocene, this article is a “reparative reading” (Sedgewick 2003) response to Lynn Bolles' call to identify the “ways of ‘miseducation’ in anthropology” (Bolles 2013, 58) and seeks to repair the erasure of Black feminists' contributions to plantation studies outside the Americas and Afro‐Caribbean contexts, specifically in South Asian studies. Situating new research among landless, minority Tamil plantation residents through a re‐reading of plots on Sri Lanka's tea plantations, I suggest that thinking alongside Black feminist scholarship outside plantation studies' “regional closets” (Alexander 2005) is not only an ethical choice but also one of co‐survival and liberation within the white habitus (Bonilla‐Silva, Goar, and Embrick 2006) of anthropology.
Chapter
In a 2006 Canadian Sri Lankan Tamil pamphlet called Thurohi (Traitor), the author tells his diasporic audience, "many of us fled and came to this country. Why? Our life's duty is to survive. But what is our historical duty? To be traitors" (Jeeva 2006, 3; emphasis added).1 The war between the Sri Lankan state and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) drew in Sri Lanka's three largest ethnic groups: The majority Sinhalese, the minority Sri Lankan Tamils, and Sri Lankan Muslims; the latter, while war-affected, were not active in the conflict. The primary battlefields and areas of LTTE control were northern and eastern Sri Lanka. In May 2009 the war came to a bloody close in a stand-off with the Sri Lankan Army and the death of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and most senior leadership. This end came long after the writing of this chapter and is not its subject. But it is now even more urgent to examine the consequences of the war and LTTE culture of terror on Tamil society and political culture. I examine how in this war treachery came to be seen as the ultimate ethical act. I discuss how individuals in a community of potential traitors come to reformulate ideas of intimacy and ways to fashion meaningful social and political roles in the heart of terror. "The traitor is more dishonorable than the enemy," Prabhakaran announced in his annual Heroes Day speech.2 The enemy so named is the "Sinhalese" Sri Lankan government. That the Tamil traitor is considered more abhorrent than the enemy reveals that the LTTE was fighting a war on two fronts, one against an external enemy, the other against an internal foe, in an effort to define a people and a place, a task that brooks no opposition and necessitates frequent cleansing. The traitor had become the central figure by which the LTTE poses questions of community, loyalty, and Tamilness. Tamils had come to fear being marked as traitors. Treasonous acts were ever-expanding, from open political action to being seen talking or transacting with the Sri Lankan Army to refusing to pay LTTE taxes. The categorization of treason remained stable only to those to whom one was considered treasonous: The LTTE. Thousands had been arrested and fined, and many killed. The reason given for almost all extrajudicial killings in the LTTE-controlled north and east was the needful cleansing of traitors. This heightened following the split of the LTTE into two factions, both claiming that those who support the others are traitors, further exacerbating the surveillance and violence enacted against Tamils. This situation has received little attention in academic work (including my own), which has concentrated on the interethnic and countrywide tensions of the civil war. The actions of the LTTE toward its own population, for whom it promised liberation and a Tamil homeland (Tamil Eelam) have remained "our secret," one shared among Tamils, a story about the relationship between not the self and the other but the self and "ourselves". This chapter draws from research undertaken with those who were labeled traitors, my own fieldwork among Tamils in Sri Lanka, and a new dissident consciousness epitomized in pamphlets, plays, and dissident poetry that assert that to be a traitor is the only way to occupy a position that can speak about "our secret," the LTTE. I attempt to set some of the groundwork for a good consideration of treason within the specific political context of Sri Lanka, as well as a more general framework for understanding why it is possible to make some lives forfeit merely by labeling them traitor. I argue that the potency, possibility, and abhorrence of treason are produced by our senses of intimacy with others and our fears that intimacy may be brittle and fragile. The first section gives a detailed introduction to the LTTE and its rise to power. I then move, in the second section, to discuss the structural positioning of "the traitor" and the connection between senses of intimacy and the moral abhorrence of treason. I pose this within a Sri Lankan context, where I disentangle the LTTE's "fear of traitors" from civilian "fear of betrayal"-being betrayed by each other to the LTTE as traitors. Both play with two different senses of the intimate. The first notion takes from Herzfeld's (1997) suggestion that a sense of "cultural intimacy" exists among those who share codes, practices, language, and a sense of "rueful self-recognition." The second is the sense of closeness we feel for intimates, those we live, socialize, and work with. I suggest, first, that the LTTE was able to exert power over Tamils because it operated from within the community and within a sense of the intimate. However, I then examine how intimacy becomes constantly reformulated as people search for ways of being social with each other. Finally, I conclude by pointing to the ways in which those who have been labeled traitors come to acknowledge and make treason the grounds by which they find a way of speaking about Tamil politics, refusing, reversing, and, finally, as with Jeeva above, harnessing the power of treason as needful diagnostic. Copyright
Article
The English novelist E. M. Forster once wrote that "if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country" (1972, 66). Forster's claim seems particularly provocative, given that it was written in 1939, on the eve of World War II, a time when accusations of treason could have deadly implications. Yet for Forster personal bonds of love and friendship were to take priority over the demands of state and nation. At a personal level, Forster's claim should almost certainly be read in terms of the criminalization of homosexuality in early twentieth-century Britain. It cannot be surprising if loyalty to lovers and confidantes overrides allegiance to a discriminatory legal regime. However, at the same time, Forster also recognized that the demands of one's country can be hard to resist. It is not clear if the courage he asks for is bravery in the face of the coercive power of the state or moral fortitude to make an ultimately difficult ethical decision. The tension among intimate personal relationships, the demands of states, and the hard moral choices that these produce are at the heart of this book. Traitors are rarely, if ever, simply venal or self-interested, and accusations of treachery are seldom self-evident. Rather, treason is a product of often contradictory social and political obligations. As Forster reminds us, we are never simply citizens or friends but always and necessarily both at the same time. As we try to negotiate our multiple allegiances, we must balance competing demands on our loyalty. In this context, any act of treachery can also be a potential act of loyalty to another cause. The guilt or innocence of traitors is, therefore, never clear-cut, as competing moral values make often-conflicting demands. Treachery is reproduced in the "gray zones" of political life, destabilizing the rigid moral binaries of victim and persecutor, friend and enemy. Despite or even because of the ethical ambiguity of treason, accusations of treachery often attract the most vehement, sometimes violent, condemnation. Treason was the last crime to attract the death penalty in the United Kingdom, and elsewhere is subject to the most brutal forms of punishment. The violence of accusations of treason can perhaps be explained by the fact that acts of treason seem to threaten and destabilize the fragile moral and social relationships that hold us together and bind us to the perhaps otherwise abstract notions of nation, people, or community. Furthermore, and perhaps most important, traitors arguably attract a particular aversion because they are not a distant "other" but the enemy within. They are a source of internal transgression, and as such, they call into question the moral and political commitments of those who seem to be closest to us. McCarthyism, Stalinist purges, and even medieval witch crazes did not focus on distant strangers but tried to root out internal subversion. In this context, accusations of treason try to define who is inside and who is out, laying claim to moral and political certainty in the face of uncertainty. Treason has often been treated as a pathology or a distortion of political life. Its importance has, therefore, been sidelined in social and political analysis. However, one of the central propositions of this volume is that, far from being pathological, the identification and prosecution of treason are constant, essential, and "normal" parts of the processes by which attempts are made to reproduce social and political order. Placing treason at the heart of our attempts to understand the ways in which political regimes are made and unmade helps us raise important questions about categories of belonging, about their moral, political, and economic foundations, and about the often contradictory choices faced by modern political subjects. The bond between the state and its citizens is never complete, as it is mediated by a host of contradictory affiliations to kin and social groups and can be overruled by wider ethical obligations. The specter of treason is thus embedded within notions of the loyal citizen. Citizenship is itself fraught with risk. The fidelity of even those who appear to have the greatest allegiance can never be assured. Betrayal is always a possibility.1 It is not just the stranger that is feared and suspected but also the seemingly faithful citizen. Therefore, political conflict should not be understood as just the marking of difference or the delineation of boundaries but as the product of a tension inherent in the state-citizen relationship. Both states and their citizen/ subjects are prone to the moral and social unease produced by fundamentally incomplete forms of loyalty and legitimacy. Antagonism is produced not only between the citizen and the one who appears to be different but among those who seem to be the same, those who, at first glance, seem to share the most intense sense of solidarity. Intimacy is not the antithesis of fear but can be at its core. In asking how traitors, both as an abstract category and as concrete persons, are reproduced in the context of local histories, contributors to this volume address larger theoretical questions about the nature of shifts in (postcolonial) citizenship. They explore how the historically specific dimensions of the relationship between citizens/subjects and those who speak in the name of the state create particular configurations of trust, suspicion, and belonging. As such, three key themes run through the volume. The first is the relationship between treason and the fragile nature of state-building processes. All modern states are built on betrayal, and continuing acts of treasons are central to their development. In a context where states depend on the multiple and often contradictory intimate relationships of kinship, ethnicity, and class to extend their reach, claims of treason help map the moral boundaries of the state and the people in whose name they speak. The second theme is the forms of suspicion and fear that are inherent in social and political relationships. We suggest that the possibility of betrayal is the everpresent dark side of intimacy, taking on new and ever more frightening forms in the context of state-building. The third and final theme is the ethical nature of treason. Acts of treason are produced through the contradictory loyalties and fears produced by rapid social change, creating particular configurations of accountability and responsibility. Copyright
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Khalil was one of the largest building contractors in theWest Bank Palestinian village of Bayt Hajjar. I had just spent the day with him, visiting one of his projects, where he was providing laborers to help build a new suburb in the rapidly expanding settlement of Halamish. For many Palestinians, the presence of Israeli settlements is the major obstacle to a just and lasting peace. The fact that it is often Palestinians who work and build the settlements is, therefore, highly controversial. Although I knew from other people that Khalil worked in the settlements, I had expected him to be reluctant to talk to me about it. However, within hours of first being introduced by a mutual friend, he started to talk about his work in Halamish. When Khalil had asked me if I wanted to join him as he inspected his projects, I jumped at the chance, intrigued if slightly apprehensive. Khalil and I spent the day together in Halamish, as he negotiated new contracts, spoke to his workers, and inspected the site. In the evening, we drove back to the village of Bayt Hajjar, where we were both staying, along a road nominally reserved for Israeli settlers. We both sat uncomfortably low in our seats as we drove quickly through the dark. There had been several sniper attacks by Palestinians on Israeli vehicles in recent weeks, and for any armed Palestinian sitting among the olive trees, it would be impossible to tell if the driver of the car was an Israeli settler or not. As we neared the village, we drove past a large 4 × 4 vehicle parked under a bridge. Almost immediately, Khalil began to get visibly agitated. When I asked him what the matter was, he explained that the driver of the 4 by 4 was another labor contractor from the village, but that he was also a well known muta'awin (collaborator) with the Israeli secret police and was probably waiting under the bridge to meet his handler. Khalil told me that the contractor and all collabora tors like him were a sarataan (cancer). Throughout my stay in the West Bank, talk of collaborators was endemic. Rumors and accusation would be met with counteraccusation, and suspicions spread quickly. While waiting for buses, drinking coffee in cafes, or chatting in front of shops, people would talk about little else. The possibility of collaboration seemed to be everywhere. Even Khalil, who earned his living carrying out an activity that many Palestinians considered tantamount to working for the Israeli occupation, would get visibly upset and worried about the prospect of collaborators living in Bayt Hajjar. This chapter explores why suspicion about collaboration was so ubiquitous among West Bank Palestinians. Based on fieldwork carried out in 2000-2002, during the first two years of the second intifada, it examines the dilemmas of reproducing Palestinian citizens in a half (mis)formed state. In the face of an Israeli occupation that threatened to end aspirations for an effective Palestinian state, the claims of Palestinian nationalism have often been given a tangible presence through everyday relationships. From the 1970s onward, Palestinians in the West Bank attempted to lay the basis for their own state from the ground up. Not only were numerous committees, trade unions, women's groups, and voluntary organizations established, but the desire for Palestinian statehood was also seen as being embedded in commonplace activities. The style of wedding celebration or a person's choice of employment, for example, reflected a particular set of nationalist aspirations (Jean-Klein 2001). In this process, personal desires and family responsibilities merged with the project of Palestinian statehood. However, in a tragic embrace, the everyday actions and intimate relationships upon which the Palestinian state would be built have also been implicated in the very regime that they wish to deny. Given the political, economic, and social entrenchment of Israeli occupation, complicity with the Israeli state runs through the most seemingly mundane activity. The dominance of the Israeli occupation has been a constant and unavoidable fact of life. In his analysis of the logic of emancipation, Ernesto Laclau (1996) argues that groups struggling for independence necessarily contain elements of the forces they seek to overcome. For Laclau, the penetration of the oppressor into the everyday life of the oppressed necessitates the need for emancipation and also makes complete separation impossible. As such, national liberation movements are forced to build their new nations on foundations produced by the very regimes they are opposed to. For Palestinians, going to work, earning a living, or even building a house can mean relying on people acting in the name of the Israeli state. Behind every Palestinian muwatin (citizen/national), there is, therefore, also a subject, subordinate to the whims of the Israeli military occupation Rumor and suspicion about collaboration and complicity spread, not because people do not know what their friends, neighbors, relatives, and colleagues are doing but because they are all too aware of what is possible or even necessary. Social and political analysis all too often assumes that it is difference that causes conflict and fear. However, antagonism can also be rooted in a frightening mutual recognition. It is not just the unknown that produces apprehension but the all too knowable. Far from intimacy and knowledge creating a sense of warm familiarity, they can also lead to their own type of fear. People can simply know too much about each other and what they are capable of, precisely because they face the same dilemmas and pressures. The embedding of politics within intimate relations, therefore, invites constant reflection on the potentially dark side of intimacy, on the forms of betrayal and disappointment that can mark relationships with those closest to you (compare Geschiere 1997). As such, this chapter examines how, throughout the Israeli occupation, two intifadas, and the Oslo Peace Process, Palestinians have been forced constantly to renegotiate the boundaries of complicity and betrayal in their everyday lives. The everyday potential for collaboration creates powerful feelings of vulnerability and suspicion, inviting constant reflection on the moral, economic, and political possibility of the Palestinian watan (nation). Copyright
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The global burden of CNS diseaseAssessment of the global burden of diseaseThe prevalence of CNS disordersDisability due to CNS disordersEconomic CostsConcluding commentsReferences
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Why do some subnational political groups collaborate with foreign occupiers, while others resist and still others wait the occupation out? Popular history and scholarly literature often sidesteps this question, focusing on resistance at the expense of collaboration and assuming a simple dyadic relationship between the occupier and occupied populace whereby nationalism produces widespread resistance. This paper will argue that conceptualization is empirically misleading: it exaggerates both the extent and diversity of resistance and glosses over the pervasiveness of collaboration in occupied states. As an alternative, this paper proposes a theory for explaining subnational variation in collaboration and resistance that is rooted in the domestic politics of the occupied state. I argue that political groups are primarily interested in increasing or maintaining their own domestic political power and ensuring political survival, not in international sovereignty, and that this provides occupying powers with wide latitude to shape outcomes through their policies. Because of its high cost, violent resistance is only likely to emerge when a group’s political survival is threatened, or when the group has enough foreign support to make victory feasible. Meanwhile, because it is a relatively cheap pathway to influence, groups are likely to collaborate, regardless of ideology, so long as the occupier offers them significant power. If neither of these conditions hold, groups are likely to wait. As a preliminary test of the theory, this paper analyzes the behavior of political groups in U.S.-occupied Iraq between 2003 and 2005.
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Securitization theory's core contention—the social construction of security as a “speech–act”—is perceptive and productive, yet insufficiently attentive to societies engulfed in profound existential uncertainty about their own survival. Such societies are immersed in what I call “deep securitization,” whereby widespread public discourses explicitly frame threats as probable, protracted, and endangering the very existence of the nation/state. Under deep securitization, to politicize is to securitize, sectors intensely intertwine, political legitimacy's object is the polity/identity itself, and securitization steps are typically nonbinary and nonlinear. Empirically, if some securitizations are deeper than others, Israel's is one of the deepest. In this study, I examine this exceptionally apt, though little-examined, case for securitization theory. Israeli public discourse abounds with “existential threats,” invariably depicting the Jewish people and polity as endangered. The article analyzes the securitization of demography and its linkage to geography and democracy in the Israeli-Jewish discourse and praxis.
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Based on individual interviews with male and female ex-combatants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have reintegrated into society through a Sri Lankan government sponsored self-employment loan scheme, this study evaluates the success of these ex-combatants in adapting to their new way of life. The paper fills a significant gap in international literature on self-employed ex-combatants and is one of the first studies on ex-combatants of the LTTE after the end of the war in May 2009. The study finds that the ex-combatants have largely been unable to improve their economic wellbeing, and therefore experience economic difficulties. Many have been unable to undertake their micro-businesses successfully due to injuries, poor skills, and inadequate access to markets and loans for other purposes. Though most were happier than they were during their time with the LTTE due to the ‘absence of fear’ and improved family life, they were dissatisfied with their current economic situation. Importantly, the study found a strong correlation between economic wellbeing and their perception of long-term peace. Thus, the paper recommends that more effort be made to ensure that economic difficulties are dealt with to ensure sustainable peace in the country.