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Performing nationalism: The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Sri Lankan Tamil diasporic politics in Switzerland


Thurairajah, Tanuja (2022). Performing nationalism: The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Sri Lankan Tamil diasporic politics in Switzerland. Geographical Journal, 188(1):28-41.

Abstract

The history of post-war Sri Lanka has seen an escalation of nationalisms that constantly collide. Post-2009, with the end of the war, the reproduction of narratives around nationalisms has become intense, with home-grown protests for accountability of minority injustices continuing to sustain its fervour over time. Within the context of Switzerland these events in Sri Lanka are invariably aligned with diasporic engagement. Dominant spaces such as the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland become transnational sites for the performance of long-distance nationalism by Tamil diaspora groups, raising questions around legitimacy and claims-making. This paper presents empirical insights as to how long-distance Tamil nationalism is manifested as political engagement, by groups, and/ or individuals, in formal and informal transnational sites within the socio-political landscape of Switzerland. It argues that modes of political engagement are manifested through rituals of performance and performativity such as scripting and iteration of claims-making processes that enable legitimacy in transnational sites of lobby and protest within the UN arena in Geneva during the Human Rights Council (HRC) sessions. The paper situates its analysis within a shift in post-war Tamil diaspora claims-making narratives from a separatist stance to that of victimhood and human rights producing narratives that present the Tamil diaspora as a singular actor albeit with complex heterogeneity.

Abstract

The history of post-war Sri Lanka has seen an escalation of nationalisms that constantly collide. Post-2009, with the end of the war, the reproduction of narratives around nationalisms has become intense, with home-grown protests for accountability of minority injustices continuing to sustain its fervour over time. Within the context of Switzerland these events in Sri Lanka are invariably aligned with diasporic engagement. Dominant spaces such as the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland become transnational sites for the performance of long-distance nationalism by Tamil diaspora groups, raising questions around legitimacy and claims-making. This paper presents empirical insights as to how long-distance Tamil nationalism is manifested as political engagement, by groups, and/ or individuals, in formal and informal transnational sites within the socio-political landscape of Switzerland. It argues that modes of political engagement are manifested through rituals of performance and performativity such as scripting and iteration of claims-making processes that enable legitimacy in transnational sites of lobby and protest within the UN arena in Geneva during the Human Rights Council (HRC) sessions. The paper situates its analysis within a shift in post-war Tamil diaspora claims-making narratives from a separatist stance to that of victimhood and human rights producing narratives that present the Tamil diaspora as a singular actor albeit with complex heterogeneity.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Physical Sciences > Earth-Surface Processes
Uncontrolled Keywords:Earth-Surface Processes, Geography, Planning and Development
Language:English
Date:1 March 2022
Deposited On:11 Nov 2021 13:46
Last Modified:26 May 2024 01:48
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0016-7398
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/geoj.12416
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)