Social Analysis
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Social Analysis

Editor: Martin Holbraad, University College London

Volume 60 / 2016, 4 issues per volume (spring, summer, autumn, winter)

Subjects: Anthropology, Politics, International Relations

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Hindu Temples in the Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict: Capture and Excess

Rohan Bastin


Developing Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of territorialization and the apparatus of capture, this article explores the role that Sri Lankan Hindu temples have played in the formation of ethnicity and ethnic conflict. Analyzing three contemporary events, the article introduces ways in which many different Sri Lankans (Sinhalese and Tamil) interpret their country's predicament and seek to resolve or prolong it. The events also reveal how scholarship becomes entangled in ethnic nationalism. I then examine in greater detail a village in which temple construction was a critical feature of identity formation during the creation of Sri Lanka as a colonialist and capitalist bureaucratic space. Through this account, I argue that the formation of polarized ethnicity in Sri Lanka is the product of multiple refractive forces, of which temples are one, and not the end result of a singular colonialist bureaucratic agency.

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