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Symbolic gestures: the development terrain of post-tsunami villages in (Southern) Sri Lanka


Hollenbach, P; Ruwanpura, K N (2011). Symbolic gestures: the development terrain of post-tsunami villages in (Southern) Sri Lanka. Journal of Development Studies, 47(9):1299-1314.

Abstract

This article analyses how rituals and ceremonies were deployed in the post-tsunami rehabilitation process in Sri Lanka to ‘incorporate’ development projects into the habitus and social reality of local communities. It argues that even though the aid delivery process is represented as a gift, in reality it is more concerned with strengthening the social capital of the local and foreign donors. Through this process there is an expectation and an implicit demand for acquiescence from the beneficiaries, which leaves them with a social debt. This, in turn, compels them to participate in the game of development rituals and ceremonies, in order to express their (ambivalent) gratitude and thankfulness. Through two case studies, we explore how the good intentions of donors to provide aid and alleviate suffering and the acceptance of this aid by the local communities, results in an asymmetric relationship where both become accomplices of Bourdieuian notions of subtle and gentle violence.

Abstract

This article analyses how rituals and ceremonies were deployed in the post-tsunami rehabilitation process in Sri Lanka to ‘incorporate’ development projects into the habitus and social reality of local communities. It argues that even though the aid delivery process is represented as a gift, in reality it is more concerned with strengthening the social capital of the local and foreign donors. Through this process there is an expectation and an implicit demand for acquiescence from the beneficiaries, which leaves them with a social debt. This, in turn, compels them to participate in the game of development rituals and ceremonies, in order to express their (ambivalent) gratitude and thankfulness. Through two case studies, we explore how the good intentions of donors to provide aid and alleviate suffering and the acceptance of this aid by the local communities, results in an asymmetric relationship where both become accomplices of Bourdieuian notions of subtle and gentle violence.

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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:September 2011
Deposited On:05 Mar 2012 15:31
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:40
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0022-0388
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2010.527950

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