• KY16 9AL

    United Kingdom

Personal profile

Research overview

I am an anthropologist working at the intersection of conflict and visual culture. My research is focused on resistance, ethno-nationalist conflict, and political violence in Sri Lanka, examining the local and global aftermaths of civil war through the making and moving of images.

My recent projects have explored the political work of photography, the transnational visual economies of war death, and the interlinked iconographies of justice and accountability.

I am a member of the PhotoDemos Collective and curate the Museum of Religious Freedom, Sri Lanka.

 

Smoke, Shadow, Light: War and Photography in Sri Lanka

This project is an ethnographic exploration of the political work of photography in northern Sri Lanka. Centred on the Tamil community in Jaffna and the Vanni, it extends from the everyday workings of photography studios embedded within citizenship registration projects as well as immigration regimes; the animated afterlives of state-necessitated identity photographs, memorial portraits, wedding and family albums, and visual ‘evidence’ of wartime atrocity and trauma captured by ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’; transient offline and online sites of protest and commemoration; to the efforts of amateur photographers and activists questioning and reclaiming visual narratives of identity and place through photography-oriented social media platforms.

The interconnections between these disparate ethnographic contexts illuminate the empirical disquiet between the theoretical positions on photography as ideological tool and emancipatory practice.

This research was undertaken to inform a wider European Research Council-funded project Photodemos | Citizens of Photography: The Camera and the Political Imagination‘.

 

‘Riot’: Incitement, Ambivalent Remembrance, and the Visual Remains of the Black July Pogrom

This research explores the production and circulation of imagery relating to Sri Lanka’s ‘Black July’ pogrom. Widely held as marking the ‘beginning’ of the civil war (1983-2009), this episode of communal violence continues to be re-animated in the postwar present. Media imagery, witness accounts, and literary and visual artists’ responses to the violence emerge each year to mark the anniversary of the event. Such remembrance calls attention not to the lives lost but to a status quo of enduring ethnic conflict and political injustice. This project is a twofold consideration of the question of ‘incitement’ at the intersection of the political and visual by undertaking archival and ethnographic fieldwork in Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. By analysing contemporary recursions of the ‘riot,’ it examines how ‘incitement’ might be perceived by impacted communities and the role of images in triggering, evidencing, and commemorating political violence.

This research is supported by a Research Incentive Grant from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. 

Profile Keywords

Conflict, Civil War, Political Violence, Nationalism, Resistance, State, Citizenship, Visual Culture, Photography, Cinema, Sri Lanka, Southasia 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Smoke, Shadow, Light: Conflict, Photography and the Tamil Imagination in Postwar Sri Lanka, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

Oct 2016Sept 2020

Award Date: 28 Sept 2020

Master of Philosophy, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Oct 2010Jul 2011

Award Date: 27 Jul 2011

Master of Arts, University of St Andrews

Sept 2006Jun 2010

Award Date: 25 Jun 2010

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