Thesis title: An Open Crypt: Tracing the Ghosts of Sri Lanka’s Civil War
Supervisor: Professor Ankhi Mukherjee
Research interests: Postcolonial literature and culture, race, genocide studies, trauma and memory studies, comparative settler colonialisms, Palestine and Palestinianism, contemporary photography and film, assemblage theory, deconstruction, gender and sexuality, performance
Doctoral research: My research considers the complex modalities of violence enacted on the people of Tamil Eelam by the postcolonial Sri Lankan state. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including novels, poems, photographic archives, journalism, narrative testimony, human rights reports, and forensic reconstructions, I seek to demonstrate that anti-Tamil racism in Sri Lanka, from independence to the Civil War and its tortured, violent aftermaths, constitutes a hybrid carceral formation, one where the pendulum is always swinging from discipline to punishment, from the biopolitical to the necropolitical and back again. What the various texts I examine share, I argue, is a profound attunement to the figure of the human as, alternately, a rhetorical device, a psychic fantasy, and a technology of racial and sexual governance. Using techniques from deconstruction, I scrutinize the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of the human - the overdetermining frame of the rights-bearing subject, the metaphysical location of the enunciative drive (and so of political speech and life itself), the narrative prop of liberalism par excellence - in order to open up new avenues for thinking reparative and just futures in Sri Lanka/Eelam. In this way, I hope to contribute to ongoing conversations, in English studies and beyond, on democratic engagement, human rights, and decolonization in the age of late-capitalist modernity.