Event — IIAS lecture

From Sri Lanka to the international arena: the moral geography of the Tamil cause

Please join us for this lecture by Lola Guyot, teaching fellow at Sciences Po Lille and a research fellow at the Center for Political, Social and Administrative Studies and Research (CERAPS) in Lille, France.

This lecture will take place in the IIAS conference room from 12:00-13:00 Amsterdam Time (CET).


The Lecture

Since the beginning of the armed insurgency in Sri Lanka in the 1970s, the struggle for the creation of an independent Tamil state has unfolded both in Sri Lanka and within the international arena. Since these different fronts were subject to incompatible structural constraints, Tamil actors were forced to make choices. Depending on the actors and the periods, it was either the Sri Lankan territory or the international scene that was considered the most legitimate geographic space of struggle. Different hierarchies of territories were associated with different moral conceptions of the respective roles of migrant and non-migrant populations in the struggle.

During the civil war (1983-2009), armed struggle in Sri Lanka was largely seen as the only appropriate mode of action, and the Tamil diaspora in the West was put in a subordinate position. Tamil migrants were expected to provide material support to the armed movement, without being able to undertake political initiatives on the international scene. Since the defeat of the insurgency in 2009, while Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka still conceive of the island as the primary front for the nationalist struggle, most diasporic organisations favour the international arena over the Sri Lankan territory, considered as unsuitable for political action, and therefore claim the leadership of the struggle.

In her presentation, Lola Guyot will show how the moral geography of the Tamil struggle has been defined and redefined since the beginning of the war and the effects it has had on power relations between Tamil actors at home and abroad.

The Speaker

Lola Guyot is a teaching fellow in Political science at Sciences Po Lille and a research fellow at the Center for Political, Social and Administrative Studies and Research (CERAPS) in Lille, France. She has completed a PhD from the European University Institute (Florence) entitled “Opposition Politics from Afar: the Case of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora.” She has published several articles on Sri Lankan politics and on the mobilisations of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora during and after the civil war. Her broad research interests include political mobilisations of migrants, transnationalism, authoritarianism, civil war, and post-conflict situations.


Everyone is welcome to attend, but registration is required as seating is limited. Please use the web form on this page.