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Religion, conflict and boundary politics in Sri Lanka


Goodhand, J; Klem, B; Korf, Benedikt (2009). Religion, conflict and boundary politics in Sri Lanka. European Journal of Development Research, 21(5):679-698.

Abstract

Boundaries have always been central to the dynamics of armed conflicts. Wars involve the activation and hardening of certain boundaries, thus dividing friend from foe. But despite the efforts of political potentates to carve out clearly delineated impermeable boundaries, people continue to travel across and sometimes challenge these boundaries. In this article, we study the boundary crossing practices of religious actors in eastern Sri Lanka, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious context affected by protracted war and a tsunami. We discuss two case studies, one on local conflict mediation activities and another on post-tsunami humanitarian work, to examine how religious actors engage with boundaries. We find that paradoxically, religious actors derive their ability to intervene in politically controversial issues because of their perceived distance from the 'dirty' world of politics. But conversely their religious and institutional identities are threatened when they become too visibly enmeshed in everyday politics.

Boundaries have always been central to the dynamics of armed conflicts. Wars involve the activation and hardening of certain boundaries, thus dividing friend from foe. But despite the efforts of political potentates to carve out clearly delineated impermeable boundaries, people continue to travel across and sometimes challenge these boundaries. In this article, we study the boundary crossing practices of religious actors in eastern Sri Lanka, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious context affected by protracted war and a tsunami. We discuss two case studies, one on local conflict mediation activities and another on post-tsunami humanitarian work, to examine how religious actors engage with boundaries. We find that paradoxically, religious actors derive their ability to intervene in politically controversial issues because of their perceived distance from the 'dirty' world of politics. But conversely their religious and institutional identities are threatened when they become too visibly enmeshed in everyday politics.

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6 citations in Web of Science®
16 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 University Research Priority Programs > Asia and Europe
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:14 Jan 2010 16:43
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:42
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN:0957-8811
Additional Information:“This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in European Journal of Development Research (2009) 21. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Religion, Conflict and Boundary Politics in Sri Lanka, Jonathan Goodhand, Bart Klem and Benedikt Korf Eur J Dev Res 21: 679-698; doi:10.1057/ejdr.2009.41 is available online at: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/ejdr/journal/v21/n5/full/ejdr200941a.html”
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1057/ejdr.2009.41
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-26656

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