Panel 4: Ethnic territories and the state

Clea Pinneau, Sorbonne University, (chair)

Inge Merete Hougaard, University of Copenhagen,

Vidushi Kaushik, Dublin City University,

Abstract: ‘Good Behaviour: Making of a Citizen’

For a conflict rooted in access to resources, social injustice and call for revolution, the Maoist conflict in its 50th year in India has transformed from question of resource redistribution and dignity to a narrative of the state and anti-state. The rise in populist and nationalist calls, tend to view this conflict from an ahistorical lens. Securitisation of the conflict since early 2000 created polarisation within the human-rights activists, bureaucrats and law enforcement agencies on matters concerning access and ownership of resources, citizenship, community rights vs. individual rights and shifted the focus from structural violence and appropriation of resources to a militarised response for conflict resolution. Militarisation of the conflict has led to assertion of identities and conformities between what are considered as the two warring sides: the state security forces, representing the state on one endand the People’s War Group- the guerrilla army of the CPI-Maoist (Communist Party of India- Maoist). In the last decade, incidents of violence and reclaiming of territorial conquests by state forces dominate the newscapes. Ethnographic accounts of people’s struggle in a hyper-securitised and militarised narrative are relegated to the margins and consequently, distancing away from deliberation on larger transformations of society. The state derives its legitimacy through assertion of territorial sovereignty and by embarking on setting a course for ‘good citizen’ who isaccountable and facilitates smooth functioning of the state or governance structures and institutions. Set in this backdrop, the paper would look at theoretical conceptions of citizenship and how the neo-liberal Indian state, impresses on compliance of ‘good behaviour’ towardssurrendered Maoist men and/or women through the policy on surrender and rehabilitation and unpacks the morality of an ‘ideal’ citizen who is loyal towards the nation and enforces ideas of nationalism and in turn marginalises voices of people who have been both victims and perpetrators of violence.

Thamali Gedera, University of Zurich,

Abstract: Electric Fences, Buddhist Temples, and Army Camps: Dislocation of Paanama in the Post-War Sri Lanka

This paper studies the process of purification through territorialisation and territorial practices in Paanama after the civil war in 2009. Paanama in Sri Lanka is often reported as a case of hybridity as well as an anecdote of abnormality. Using qualitative data such as interviews and participatory observations collected in Paanama from 2017 to 2019, the objective of this paper is twofold. First, it narrateshow people in Paanama employed hybridity in pre/post war environments and then describes territorial practices which make purification in Paanama. Hybridity in Paanama accordingly is intentional because people in Paanama conducted their identity consciously to communicate with the Sri Lanka Army and the LTTE while an ambition to be ‘pure’ (Sinhalese) is political as well as a product of post-war Sri Lanka. Three major territorial practices namely, the role played by the wildlife department, abrupt emergence of Buddhist temples and the Sri Lanka military occupation (re)produce ethnic boundaries among people in Paanama. This paper thus argues purification as a way of territorial practice in Paanama dislocates its identity representation from hybridity to a Sinhala-Buddhist village maintaining a fictive separation between Sinhalese and Tamils. 

Penelope Anthias, University of Copenhagen,