Literature and Territoriality Configuring Spaces by Jaffna Tamil Writers

S. Sivagurunathan


At present when cultural difference is increasingly becoming deterritorializedbecause of the mass migration and transnational culture of the postcolonial world, aspecial attention is shown through literary work in understanding the ways in which thequestions of identity, belonging and cultural difference are spatialized.

The concepts of Tamil identity and nationalism in Sri Lanka have always beenassociated with territory and expressed by Tamil authors in their writings. Territory isnot simply where one lives, but one which is controlled and directed in political termsand through literature Tamilian identity transcends ethnic borders and clinches a senseof territorial possession.

This paper on “Literature and Territoriality: Configuring Spaces by Jaffna TamilWriters” attempts to pinpoint that contemporary writings of Jaffna Tamils, the writersfrom the Northern part of Sri Lanka, are concerned with legitimizing the newconfigurations and fostering a feeling of belonging and identity by invoking a historyand tradition.

The objective of this paper is not to present a comprehensive reading ofcontemporary Jaffna Tamil authors and to rewrite a literary tradition but to reveal therole and function of literature in English by Jaffna Tamil writers in constructing,maintaining and legitimizing Tamilian identity through spatial configuration. Criticaldescriptive analysis is applied in this research paper.

Literary work of any community does not stand in a vacuum but it always coversthe quest for national identity of that particular community. In this regard literature ofJaffna Tamils not only legitimizes a strong sense of territory and deals with politicalresistance but implies dislocation of power through fragmentation and loss of identity aswell.

This presentation by focusing on spatial registers such as space, territory, nation,and home aims to provide a critical analysis of socio political conditions in which theliterature of Jaffna Tamils has been produced.

Key words: Literature, Tterritoriality,Spaces, Identity, Resistance, Nationalism


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