Version classiqueVersion mobile

Women and Migration

 | 
Deborah Willis
, 
Ellyn Toscano
, 
Kalia Brooks Nelson

Part one. Imagining family and migration

2. Fragments of Memory: Writing the Migrant’s Story1

Anna Arabindan-Kesson

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 I am most grateful to Professor Deborah Willis for encouraging me to write about my own migrant ex (...)
  • 2 L. Michael Ratnapalan, ‘Before and After 1983: The Impact of Theorising Sri Lankan Tamil Migration (...)

1This narrative begins in 1983, when the events of what is now called ‘Black July’ — an anti-Tamil pogrom in Sri Lanka — took place over two weeks towards the end of that month; they reverberated for decades afterwards. For many Sri Lankans of my generation, and my parents’, Black July led to a series of beginnings and endings. Families were torn apart as hundreds of Sri Lankan Tamils were killed. Thousands more were displaced and many permanently migrated. This violence led to a brutal civil war that lasted for almost three decades and shaped the development of a distinct Tamil diaspora across Europe, North America and Australia — a diaspora of which I have long been a conflicted member. I am, of course, aware that scholars warn against viewing Black July as the origin point for understanding Sri Lankan Tamil migration and the development of a diasporic identity.2 However, I begin here because, as I reflect on the relationship between migration and memory, the events of Black July loom as an origin point that has shaped the trajectory of movement defining my experience of migration.

  • 3 Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2015), p. 25.

2But beyond this physical experience of movement, I have lately begun to wonder about how these incidents and their legacies — which sometimes seem to overshadow anything that came before — also become important in the reconstitution of memory as a form of narrative. Describing the experience of migration seems so often like trying to navigate, or put in order, a series of episodes that are otherwise disjointed. This happened. Then that. The question is how can we connect these episodes. I would say then that I am ‘fixated on moments’,3 because it seems the best way to describe my experience of migration: a life broken up into beginnings and endings, timelines that abruptly trail into memory, and memories loosely gathered to constitute experience. Sarah Manguso, the diarist and essayist, has suggested that this tendency is anxiety-inducing, because it obstructs an acceptance of life as ongoing or unfolding. Rather, a fixation on moments evokes something more deliberate and detailed, an instinct to record, observe, capture, strengthen memories in the hope that they become self-sustaining.

  • 4 Toni Morrison, ‘Memory, Creation and Writing’, Thought, 59.235 (1984), 385–91 (p. 385).
  • 5 Vera Eliasova, ‘Constructing Continuities: Narratives of Migration by Iva Pekårkovå and Dubravka U (...)

3And this brings us to a key issue at stake in a migrant’s story: memory. I do not only mean what we remember or forget, but how we use memory to tell stories. A migrant’s story, or rather this migrant’s story, is a register of fragmentation. And yet it is precisely this very sense of impermanence that I am called on constantly to rectify through my story, or so it seems. Migrants must move between what is transitory and what is lost, to create some link between what is known and what is remembered. What must we do, not only to plot moments in time, but simply to recover them? This act of recovery reminds me of Toni Morrison’s description of memory as ‘a form of willed creation.’4 This description is even more apt when considering that migration necessarily ‘implies an interruption in continuity […] a tear in the narrative line of […] stories.’5 This discontinuity is often expressed as a kind of fragmentation: whether that be in the actual physical displacement of movement, or the psychological experience of being somewhat in between, neither from here nor there. Memory becomes a type of narrative formation that creates links, adds context, and delivers some kind of resolution.

4While we are all a product of the stories we formulate for, and about, ourselves, there seems to be something about telling your story as a migrant that is important, perhaps because a migrant must always have an account that justifies their existence, explains why and how they are here. Contemporary culture seems to value an arc that moves a subject temporally — from past to present — and spatially: from an old country to a new home. A migrant’s story must reconcile the contradictions between being somewhere and going somewhere, and between displacement and located-ness. A migrant’s story needs this cohesion because it is the best way to emphasize, or illustrate their successful integration into new places and nationalities.

  • 6 Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991 (London: Granta Books, 1992), (...)

5But in articulating my own experience of migration, I wonder if the fragmentation that seems to follow the experience of migration is not simply a matter of mobility and geography; but is perhaps more powerfully expressed by the ‘partial nature of […] memories, their fragmentation […] The shards of memory [that] acquire greater status, greater resonance because they were remains; fragmentation make[s] trivial things seem like symbols and the mundane acquire[s] numinous qualities.’6 This raises the question not only of what we remember, but with what do we remember in our acts of willful creation?

Black July

  • 7 Judith Betts and Claire Higgins, ‘The Sri Lankan Civil War and Australia’ s Migration Policy Respo (...)
  • 8 For more on this see Rogers, ‘Social Mobility’; Amarnath Amarasingam, Pain, Pride, and Politics: S (...)

6And so I return to those events of Black July and their aftermath. I have, of course, the official history, the one that spells out the facts or the chronology of events. The circumstances that led to Black July began in the northern city of Jaffna — a majority Tamil community. While conflict between the Sinhalese majority government and Tamil activists had been taking place for several years, and the government had already begun attempting to suppress Tamil activism to regain control of the area, one particular event eventually became the catalyst for the resulting riots. On Saturday 23 July 1983, a group of rebel Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Ealam (LTTE) ambushed a Sri Lankan military patrol (apparently in retaliation for the alleged rape of two Tamil schoolgirls). The ambush resulted in the deaths of fifteen soldiers and received widespread media attention. Rather than holding the funeral in Jaffna, the bodies were flown to Colombo, the capital city, the next day for a military funeral that was eventually called off. Following this change of plans, the already angry crowd began destroying and looting Tamil-owned businesses in the nearby area. On Monday, when an official curfew was called, the violence spread across the city. More Tamil-owned businesses and homes were destroyed and set on fire. Tamil residents were attacked, beaten and set alight. They were raped, hacked with knives and decapitated. In the Welikade prison, thirty-five Tamil political prisoners, still awaiting trial, were massacred by Sinhalese prisoners. It has become clear now that the violence of Black July was supported, or at least enabled, by political and government officials. The powerful Buddhist monk community, who fanned anti-Tamil sentiment in urban and rural areas, also encouraged it. Police did very little, or nothing, to intervene — often joining in with the rioters. Rioters were also in possession of electoral rolls that allowed them to systematically identify and target Tamil residences, and they were transported in government-owned buses.7 The riots spread to towns outside Colombo — including towns where communities of Indian-Tamils lived — but after about a week the violence had dissipated. The government response focused on assuaging the fears of the Sinhalese community, including passing the Sixth Amendment in August 1983, which outlawed support for a separate state within Sri Lanka. The main opposition party, and the only real democratic political voice for Tamils, the Tamil United Liberation Front, refused to take the oath, and left for Tamil Nadu in India; in its place came several armed Tamil militant groups, and over the next three decades the country descended into a bloody civil war. Immediately after the events of Black July, displaced Tamils in Colombo were housed in various refugee camps that were set up in schools and Hindu temples. Others began evacuating the city and fled to Jaffna, while many escaped from the country altogether and sought refuge in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States. Up to a million Tamils have left Sri Lanka since Black July, while around the same number remain internally displaced following the end of the civil war.8

  • 9 Betts and Higgins, ‘The Sri Lankan Civil War and Australia’ s Migration Policy Response’, pp. 274– (...)

7Of course this history misses another, which is that the events leading to the violence of July 1983 emerge from years of discrimination against the minority Tamil population of Sri Lanka, and intermittent violence between Tamils and the majority Sinhala population since the country’s independence in 1948. Under British rule, the Tamils were favored and hired in greater numbers within colonial administrations. After independence, the divisions that had been created between the minority Tamil and the majority Sinhalese communities took specific social and economic forms. Perhaps most significant was the passage of the Official Language Act No. 33 of 1956 which replaced English with Sinhala as the language of government and education. This measure effectively disbarred non-Sinhala-speaking minorities from public service employment. The legacy of these restrictions was violence, the nurturing of extremist groups — both Sinhala and Tamil — and the formation of a desire for a protected Tamil homeland in the north of the Island, where most of the Sri Lankan Tamil population were located. It’s also important to mention that when talking about the social and political formation of the Tamil community, and their diasporic identity, I am referring to Sri Lankan Tamils. There is a problematic division in Sri Lanka (still) between Sri Lankan and so called Indian Tamils. Sri Lankan Tamils trace their heritage in the country back for 2-3,000 years, and continue to predominate in professional jobs and bureaucracy. Indian Tamils on the other hand, tend to live in the center of the island close to its plantations, and are descended from the indentured laborers brought across from India by the British in the nineteenth century to work on coffee, tea and rubber plantations. Although both groups originated from India at some point, the political demands and antigovernment violence of groups like the LTTE were created specifically on behalf of these Sri Lankan Tamils, and it is this community of Tamils to which my family belongs, and who were overwhelmingly targeted by the events of Black July.9

Shards of Memory

8This simplified ‘official’ historical narrative is a backdrop for some of my earliest — and partial — memories. To aid them, I looked for pictures of Black July. Photographs popped up on my computer screen of charred bodies, vandalized buildings and burnt-out cars that filled in the details I no longer recalled or never had to witness. Two images stood out in particular, both depicting burnt-out shells: one a car, the other a house. Both were Black and white — clearly news footage taken in the aftermath of civil disturbance. As a result, they had a snapshot quality, as if the photographer had come upon the scene suddenly. In one image they have trained their camera on a lone woman as she surveys the damage done to what is presumably her home. We see her through a large window frame as she steps over debris lying inside and outside the house. Wooden stakes and sheets of corrugated iron lie on the grass while charred concrete walls reveal the source of the damage. As the woman looks down, a grey sky and tree branches take the place of the fallen roof. Another photograph shows a battered car sunken into the roadside, brought to a stop on a street lined with shop fronts. Wreckage from the surrounding structures lies in piles across the road. The passenger door is wide open and the windscreen blown out. What we cannot see are the accompanying burnt bodies of the passengers and driver, and beyond the car we might wonder whether, amidst the strewn debris, there are more bodies lying abandoned, beaten and burnt.

9The destroyed car reminds me of what could have happened to my father, my mother or myself had we traveled home that afternoon and not been protected by friends. Monday 25 July 1983 comes to me in fragments. I was nearing five years old and I had spent the day with my father at his office in the Dutch Reformed Church of Wellawatte. The church, part of a denomination established under colonial Dutch rule, is located in a predominantly Tamil neighborhood, in one of the areas that was most affected by the rioting. We were about to leave when someone urged us to return inside, warning us of the violence and the government curfew. Somewhere else in the city, my mother walked towards a bus stop. Having spent the morning teaching at one of Colombo’s private girls’ schools, Methodist College, she was returning home. As my father and I walked back into his office, preparing to spend the night there, my mother was approached by a Sinhalese man driving a van. He was the father of one of her students, and he probably saved her life by driving her to a friend’s home — not before having to talk down a group of angry men and convince them she was not Tamil — where she could stay safely for the night.

10These photographs provide a backdrop — a literal ‘outside’ — for the inner workings of my memory. They show me, now, what I couldn’t see then; they reveal what was happening around me. Even now the ferocity of the violence they depict startles me and makes me question my own memories: was news of the rioting, or at least the intensity of the violence, not widely broadcast? Had my father and mother really not known how dangerous it was to travel that day? So why were we leaving? These questions remain unanswered: my father has passed away; my mother cannot — perhaps will not — remember the ins and outs of that day any longer. They are testaments to the unresolved tensions that permeate my memories — that feeling that I’ll never really know what happened — and reminders of the very real danger we faced on that Monday afternoon.

11I am grateful that my memories of that period are vague; the photographs that emerge on my computer screen are graphic enough. And yet, I find I need them to locate and to stand in for scenes I cannot remember. As we waited in my father’s office, my grandparents lost everything. The photograph of the woman standing in her house looking at the ruins of her life is a proxy for my grandmother, whose home was burnt to the ground that Monday as she fled from an angry mob while carrying my infant cousin. Like the woman in the photograph, I imagine my grandmother returning to the ruins of her house and searching amid the charred remains for anything that could be salvaged. Their story of narrow escape was not uncommon. And while Sinhalese mobs roamed the streets, many Tamils were also saved by their Sinhalese neighbors and friends. These extraordinary yet everyday life-saving acts continue to challenge both government and Tamil separatist propaganda that reinforced divisions along ethnic lines. But like the haziness of memories, such acts often slip away from official accounts and are buried or pushed aside. Yet this is what kept us alive. This, and refugee camps: first we sheltered in a Hindu temple, then a school. It was crowded; we must have slept in dormitories and used children’s bathrooms. Food was passed around as we sat on the floor. In these cramped spaces we said goodbye to my grandparents and aunt — neither of whom we would see for several years. This was the last time we would ever all live in the same country, let alone the same city. From the refugee camps we were ferried in a van with blacked-out windows to an American friend’s home. Here we stayed — or rather hid — for a week or two. Once it was safe to return home, our family was dispersed. We remained in Colombo while my aunt and grandparents traveled north to Jaffna and then east to India where they were resettled. It would be at least a decade before they returned to their homeland.

Beginnings and Endings

12While the events of Black July are captured in chilling photographs permanently embedded in the nation’s psyche, for my family and many others its violence was not solely the loss of livelihood and homes, but violence of a different nature — an erasure of family history. In this sense its position as both beginning and ending — a moment always caught between remembering and forgetting — becomes even more prescient. Like many other Tamils who had to flee for their lives, my grandparents lost their treasured photo albums. These albums had pages of stiff black paper and each photograph was pasted onto the page and sometimes had a caption written next to it with colored pen. They were willful creations too, a repository of carefully accumulated narratives and family archives. But now, our family has precious few images of their life before 1983 and this loss is a wound that my grandmother carries with her still. It has always struck me as somewhat ironic that my grandparents married during the year of Sri Lankan independence. Their lives together followed the course of the life of the nation. While both lives were well documented, it was the destruction of one history — the personal — in the interests of the other — the national — that essentially constitutes what Black July has come to mean for me.

13Today when a pre-1983 photograph of the house, or the family, surfaces we eagerly scan, email and text them to each other. And as they make their way between Australia, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United States they reconnect us all again, becoming tangible proof of where we once were, and what our family once was. Now the tangibility of a photo album has been replaced by a digital archive somewhere on the Cloud where these memories accumulate, amongst others, in some kind of permanent form. Now we can print and reprint them without fear of their being lost again. But there is loss deeply buried in these photographs, and a sense of strangeness that for me has grown with time, towards a country in which I am, now, effectively a foreigner. And so, if migrant stories have origin moments, then July 1983 is both a beginning and an ending. In a short while we went from being citizens to fugitives; driven across the city in secret, hiding in cupboards and bedrooms. It signaled the end of my family’s close-knit life, and the beginning of a dislocation and a self-conscious awareness that difference can mean disposability. It also marked the beginning of the end of my life in Sri Lanka. A year later I was living in a small country town in Australia, a world away from the urban sprawl of Colombo.

A Migrant’s Photograph

  • 10 See especially Andrew Jakubowicz, ‘Racism, Multiculturalism and the Immigration Debate in Australi (...)

14There was no going back home for many of us in the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora after 1983. What would we go back home to? And so we made homes elsewhere. In contrast to the lack of photographs I have of life in Sri Lanka, there are many of our lives in Australia. We were the quintessential South Asian immigrants in a country undergoing a severe backlash against Asian immigration.10 Refusing to speak Tamil anymore, I quickly lost my accent but not my culinary tastes; I fell in love with Michael Jackson, Boy George, spiral perms and blonde hair. I watched TV endlessly, was fascinated by eighties fashion and hated the cold. Take Fig. 2.1 for example; it is a fairly banal group photograph of children and women. I am there in the center of the photograph, giggling or whispering, wearing pink trousers, a white jumper (sweater) and a dark coat. My mother stands a little to the right, dressed in dark trousers and a jacket, her long hair plaited down her back. We are there with four other little girls and their mothers: family friends of my parents who had moved to Australia to leave the violence of Sri Lanka. We range in skin tone and wear clothes that suggest it was probably cool. We face the camera, standing with our backs to the river and lush vegetation on its banks. Our mid-80s, outdoor clothing suggests we were on a hike or picnic, probably in Geelong: the town we lived in, located about an hour from Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria. I don’t remember all the people in this photograph, or even the day particularly, but beneath its banality lies something more profound and also perhaps more generic. This is one of those migrant photographs, and I’m struggling to think of what else to call it; you’ll see it in so many front rooms or on the walls of immigrant families. It’s the kind of photograph that all immigrants take at some point, a photo that is both full of discomfort and full of hope, a photo that shows one’s acculturation and strangeness, an image that is full of impermanence, even as it is meant to cement some kind of permanence.

Fig 2.1. Photographer unknown. Author with mother and friends, August 1984. Author’s collection. © Anna Arabindan-Kesson.

15When I look at this photograph I see a group of Sri Lankan women and children. We are dressed warmly because even a slight chill in the air is unbearable at this stage: most of us had only been in Australia for a year or two. Everything is still strangely alien here, even a picnic. At home a picnic would mean bringing carefully wrapped packets of rice and curry, sambal, fried treats, perhaps mangos and plantains, thermoses of milk tea and bottles of water. In Australia picnics meant sandwiches and a drink, some chips, perhaps raw vegetables. So we probably tried to achieve a happy medium, but inevitably there would have been some kind of curry. I look at this photograph and try to remember what it was like to be in that landscape: the trees, the water, the grass — all so very different to anything I’d seen before. We are trying to look ‘at home’ — we smile, we spread out, we appear to be comfortable and yet almost everything about this image is a reminder of how alien we were. I look at this photograph and imagine it being sent back home to Sri Lanka. Our relatives would have found the scenery interesting; they would have shaken their heads and probably felt a little sorry for us in our warm clothes; they would have wondered where we were, what the trees were called, how far away from the city we were, and what we ate. The adults in the group had known each other at home, so my family would have seen both our new life and its older roots.

16If Black July was one beginning, here is another. As a photograph that simultaneously reveals both the desire for diasporic connection and its limits, this image also takes me back to where I began this chapter, arguing that the migrant’s narrative must somehow reconcile the contradictory experiences of being both in, and yet out of, place. That is why we take so many of these photographs that seem to anchor us and validate us, even as, from another perspective, they only highlight the discontinuity that inevitably comes with geographical displacement. This photograph suggests that the experience of fragmentation is — simply — a subject position, a way of inhabiting place that relies more on discontinuity and impermanence than it does on a sense of completion.

  • 11 See especially Elaine Wachtel, ‘Ghost Hunter’, in Lynne Sharon Schwartz (ed.), The Emergence of Me (...)

17Migrants always have to carry their story with them — and it is usually one that arcs from impermanence to something like permanence. By moving from Black July to new beginnings in Australia I too might be reinforcing a narrative for which we migrants seem to be responsible: reconciling contradictions between displacement and located-ness. And yet as I’ve tried to trace some of my own narrative here, I realize it is precisely these contradictions that lead to this fixation on particular moments, on beginnings and endings. Furthermore, as I write this I realize that I can hardly distinguish between my memory of these events and what I may recall of them from photographs. Photographs become both an act of storytelling and a memory device as they arrest time and apportion it out into segments.11 Like remnants of memory, these images present fragmented views that are fixed on particular moments that nevertheless come to exist as if outside the gradient of chronological time. Images and memory activate each other, acting as stand-ins for what is missing or incomplete. By appreciating the fragmented nature of image-making and the remnants of memory, we can halt the otherwise unidirectional narrative of migration by rejecting a timeline focused on resolution, and bringing into focus details that might otherwise go unmentioned.

  • 12 Teju Cole, ‘Memories of Things Unseen’, The New York Times, 14 October 2015, ‘Magazine’ section, h (...)

18The story I have set out is as much an act of creation as it is a set of ‘real’ events that unfolded across multiple geographies. It is a story that is reassembled from shards — of memory and images — and so it may be a different story to the one my parents or my grandparents might have told. It is a story made up of impressions that, even when pulled together, never quite cover over the disjuncture and impermanence that migration can set in place. But then my aim here has not been to map a linear trajectory (this happened, then that), but to explore what it might mean to deliberately, willfully, remember. This is of course the basis of any kind of memoir and is the direction this short essay has taken. But what I have also tried to highlight here is how memoir, as an act of self-creation and re-creation, might also mirror a desire to visualize and image — connecting it with the memorial impulse that is embedded in the act of photography. This is an impulse that Teju Cole has elsewhere described as concerned with the act of retention, just as it also suggests a form of recording.12 This relationship between memory and photography brings us full circle, and is perhaps what connects the fixations of an immigrant and those of an art historian. It is a relationship that revolves around a joint fascination with the impulse not just to remember but to select, retain and preserve, to constantly reframe and locate oneself in response to these experiences of impermanence without ever losing sight of their fragmentary nature.

Bibliographie

Bibliography

Amarasingam, Amarnath, Pain, Pride, and Politics: Social Movement Activism and the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015).

Betts, Judith, and Claire Higgins, ‘The Sri Lankan Civil War and Australia’s Migration Policy Response: A Historical Case Study with Contemporary Implications’, Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 4 (2017), 272–85, https://doi.org/10.1002/app5.181

Cole, Teju, Known and Strange Things: Essays (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2016).

―, ‘Memories of Things Unseen’, The New York Times, 14 October 2015, ‘Magazine’ section, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/magazine/memories-of-things-unseen.html

Denham, Scott D., and Mark Richard McCulloh, W. G. Sebald: History, Memory, Trauma (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006).

Eliasova, Vera, ‘Constructing Continuities: Narratives of Migration by Iva Pekårkovå and Dubravka Ugresic’, in Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru, Madalina Nicolaescu, and Helen Smith (eds.), Between History and Personal Narrative: Eastern European Women’s Stories of Migration in the New Millennium (Münster: LIT Verlag, 2011), pp. 229–48.

Fuglerud, Øivind, Life on the Outside: The Tamil Diaspora and Long-Distance Nationalism (London: Pluto Press, 1999).

―, ‘Time and Space in the Sri Lanka-Tamil Diaspora’, Nations and Nationalism, 7 (2001), 195–213, https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8219.00012

Jakubowicz, Andrew, ‘Racism, Multiculturalism and the Immigration Debate in Australia: A Bibliographic Essay’, Sage Race Relations Abstracts, 10 (1985), 1–15.

Jupp, James, From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Manguso, Sarah, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2015).

Morrison, Toni, ‘Memory, Creation and Writing’, Thought, 59 (1984), 385–91.

Powell, Katrina M., Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2015).

Rajah, A. R. Sriskanda, Government and Politics in Sri Lanka: Biopolitics and Security (Abingdon: Taylor & Francis, 2017).

Ratnapalan, L. Michael, ‘Before and After 1983: The Impact of Theorising Sri Lankan Tamil Migration History around the 1983 Colombo Riots’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 37 (2014), 281–91, https://doi.org/10.1080/00856401.2014.882874

Rogers, John D., ‘Social Mobility, Popular Ideology, and Collective Violence in Modern Sri Lanka’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 46 (1987), 583–602, https://doi.org/10.2307/2056900

Rushdie, Salman, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991 (London: Granta Books, 1992).

Thiranagama, Sharika, In My Mother’s House: Civil War in Sri Lanka (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Wachtel, Elaine, ‘Ghost Hunter’, in Lynne Sharon Schwartz (ed.), The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W. G. Sebald (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007), pp. 37–63.

Wesley, Michael, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia (Sydney: University of New South Wales, 2011).

Notes

1 I am most grateful to Professor Deborah Willis for encouraging me to write about my own migrant experience for this volume. I am also grateful to the participants of the Migration and Gender workshop, held at Villa La Pietra in Florence in June 2017, for helpful feedback on this paper. The Australian writer Rajith Savanadasa was an extremely helpful interlocutor, especially in discussing narrative arcs, memory and the role of migrant stories in shaping cultural nationalism. Sugi Kossen, my mother, helped me to remember and this essay is dedicated to her.

2 L. Michael Ratnapalan, ‘Before and After 1983: The Impact of Theorising Sri Lankan Tamil Migration History Around the 1983 Colombo Riots’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 37.2 (2014), 281–91. Scholars suggest that this event needs to be understood in relation to a longer history of Sri Lankan Tamil migration, and the multiple dynamics from which it has arisen. See for example Øivind Fuglerud, ‘Time and Space in the Sri Lanka-Tamil Diaspora’, Nations and Nationalism, 7.2 (2001), 195–213; idem, Life on the Outside: The Tamil Diaspora and Long-Distance Nationalism (London: Pluto Press, 1999); John D. Rogers, ‘Social Mobility, Popular Ideology, and Collective Violence in Modern Sri Lanka’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 46.3 (1987), 583–602.

3 Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2015), p. 25.

4 Toni Morrison, ‘Memory, Creation and Writing’, Thought, 59.235 (1984), 385–91 (p. 385).

5 Vera Eliasova, ‘Constructing Continuities: Narratives of Migration by Iva Pekårkovå and Dubravka Ugresic’, in Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru, Madalina Nicolaescu, and Helen Smith (eds.), Between History and Personal Narrative: Eastern European Women’s Stories of Migration in the New Millennium (Münster: LIT Verlag, 2011), pp. 229–48 (p. 229).

6 Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991 (London: Granta Books, 1992), p. 12.

7 Judith Betts and Claire Higgins, ‘The Sri Lankan Civil War and Australia’ s Migration Policy Response: A Historical Case Study with Contemporary Implications’, Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 4.2 (2017), 272–85 (p. 274).

8 For more on this see Rogers, ‘Social Mobility’; Amarnath Amarasingam, Pain, Pride, and Politics: Social Movement Activism and the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015); A. R. Sriskanda Rajah, Government and Politics in Sri Lanka: Biopolitics and Security (Abingdon: Taylor & Francis, 2017); Sharika Thiranagama, In My Mother’s House: Civil War in Sri Lanka (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); Katrina M. Powell, Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2015).

9 Betts and Higgins, ‘The Sri Lankan Civil War and Australia’ s Migration Policy Response’, pp. 274–75.

10 See especially Andrew Jakubowicz, ‘Racism, Multiculturalism and the Immigration Debate in Australia: A Bibliographic Essay’, Sage Race Relations Abstracts, 10.3 (1985), 1–15; James Jupp, From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Michael Wesley, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia (Sydney: University of New South Wales, 2011).

11 See especially Elaine Wachtel, ‘Ghost Hunter’, in Lynne Sharon Schwartz (ed.), The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W. G. Sebald (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007), pp. 37–63; Scott D. Denham and Mark Richard McCulloh, W. G. Sebald: History, Memory, Trauma (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006).

12 Teju Cole, ‘Memories of Things Unseen’, The New York Times, 14 October 2015, ‘Magazine’ section, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/magazine/memoriesof-things-unseen.html; Teju Cole, Known and Strange Things: Essays (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2016), pp. 196–221.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig 2.1. Photographer unknown. Author with mother and friends, August 1984. Author’s collection. © Anna Arabindan-Kesson.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7927/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 294k

Auteur

An assistant professor of African American and Black Diasporic art with a joint appointment in the Departments of African American Studies and Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Born in Sri Lanka, she completed undergraduate degrees in New Zealand and Australia, worked as a Registered Nurse in the UK and finally moved to the United States in 2007 to begin a PhD in African American Studies and Art History at Yale University. In her teaching and research, she focuses on African American, Caribbean, and British Art, with an emphasis on histories of race, empire, and transatlantic visual culture in the long nineteenth century. She is currently completing a book entitled The Currency of Cotton: Art, Empire and Commerce 1780–1900 examining processes of cultural exchange underpinned by histories of colonialism, and the legacies of these encounters in contemporary art practice. She has been the recipient of several fellowships, including from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Winterthur Library, Museum and Gardens and the Paul Mellon Center for Research in British Art. She was awarded an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship along with Professor Mia Bagneris of Tulane University, to complete a book entitled Beyond Recovery: Reframing the Dialogues of Early African Diasporic Art and Visual Culture 1700–1900.

Acheter

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search