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Who is the rogue? Discourse, power and spatial politics in post-war Sri Lanka


Korf, Benedikt (2006). Who is the rogue? Discourse, power and spatial politics in post-war Sri Lanka. Political Geography, 25(3):279-297.

Abstract

This article analyses ethnic antagonisms and related political discourses in Sri Lanka after the ceasefire agreement in 2002 using the Derridean notion of vouyou (rogue) and Agamben’s concept of state of exception. In all three ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, we can observe discourses on ethnicity, space and territories that create fictions of ethnic homogeneity and purity based on a social construct of the ethnic other as ‘‘rogue’’. Roguishness is linked with issues of territorial control, political justice and virtual or real ‘‘rogue states’’. It is also pertinent in the justification of violence and the differentiation of just(ified) and unjust(ified), roguish violence and the rivalry over sovereignty. I will argue that these ‘‘rogue others’’ are needed to legitimize a state of exception where force stands out-of-the-law, but needs to be justified as being within the law, since the state of exception is part of a project leading to an ideal state-to-come. This ideal state-to-come to is to be a ‘‘pure’’ state-to-come, in the form of the ‘‘pure’’ SinghaleseeBuddhist state, the Tamil homeland, and more recently, the Muslim homeland as expression of distinct Muslimness. Derrida argues that identifying ‘‘rogues’’ is rationalizing and covering deeper rooted fears. In Sri Lanka, the rogue rationale reveals deeper lying anxieties that link security with ethnic homogeneity and the ethnic self and insecurity with multi-ethnicity and the ethnic other. The ethnic other is a force preventing the (ethnically) pure state-to-come to come into being.

Abstract

This article analyses ethnic antagonisms and related political discourses in Sri Lanka after the ceasefire agreement in 2002 using the Derridean notion of vouyou (rogue) and Agamben’s concept of state of exception. In all three ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, we can observe discourses on ethnicity, space and territories that create fictions of ethnic homogeneity and purity based on a social construct of the ethnic other as ‘‘rogue’’. Roguishness is linked with issues of territorial control, political justice and virtual or real ‘‘rogue states’’. It is also pertinent in the justification of violence and the differentiation of just(ified) and unjust(ified), roguish violence and the rivalry over sovereignty. I will argue that these ‘‘rogue others’’ are needed to legitimize a state of exception where force stands out-of-the-law, but needs to be justified as being within the law, since the state of exception is part of a project leading to an ideal state-to-come. This ideal state-to-come to is to be a ‘‘pure’’ state-to-come, in the form of the ‘‘pure’’ SinghaleseeBuddhist state, the Tamil homeland, and more recently, the Muslim homeland as expression of distinct Muslimness. Derrida argues that identifying ‘‘rogues’’ is rationalizing and covering deeper rooted fears. In Sri Lanka, the rogue rationale reveals deeper lying anxieties that link security with ethnic homogeneity and the ethnic self and insecurity with multi-ethnicity and the ethnic other. The ethnic other is a force preventing the (ethnically) pure state-to-come to come into being.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2006
Deposited On:15 Aug 2012 14:55
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:55
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0962-6298
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2005.12.007

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