Violence, Torture and Memory in Sri Lanka
Life after Terror
By Dhana Hughes
Routledge – 2013 – 194 pages
Drawing on original ethnographic field-research conducted primarily with former guerrilla insurgents in southern and central Sri Lanka, this book analyses the memories and narratives of people who have perpetrated political violence. It explores how violence is negotiated and lived with in the aftermath, and its implications for the self and social relationships from the perspectives of those who have inflicted it.
The book sheds ethnographic light on a largely overlooked and little-understood conflict that took place within the majority Sinhala community in the late 1980s, known locally as the Terror (Bheeshanaya). It illuminates the ways in which the ethical charge carried by violence seeps into the fabric of life in the aftermath, and discusses that for those who have perpetrated violence, the mediation of its memory is ethically tendentious and steeped in the moral, carrying important implications for notions of the self and for the negotiation of sociality in the present.
Providing an important understanding of the motivations, meanings, and consequences of violence, the book is of interest to students and scholars of South Asia, Political Science, Trauma Studies and War Studies.
"This book is a sensitive, thoughtful, yet provocative addition to the growing body of ethnographic work on violence, memory, and intimacy, and to studies of contemporary Sri Lanka." - Journal of Contemporary Asia
"Hughes writes with a strong,sensitive, and sympathetic authorial voice. She provides a nuanced understanding of positionality and a thoughtful discussion of research ethics and methods. Life after Terror will appeal to anthropologists, South Asianists, and Sri Lankanists. In a classroom, one could use the book to discuss state violence, particularly the microprocesses and lived experience of insurgency and counter-insurgency situations."
Michele Ruth Gamburd Portland State University
1. Introduction: Life After Terror 2. The Violence of Youth 3. ‘Opportunistic’ Violence and the Impossibility of Intimacy 4. Talking about Torture: Stories of Torture Survivors 5. Talking about Torture: Stories of Former Counter-Insurgency Officers 6. Possibilities of Intimacy in Times of Terror 7. Recreating Life After Terror and the Mundane 8. Buddhism and Reformulating Life After Terror 9. Conclusion
Dhana Hughes is an anthropologist at the University of Oxford, UK.