Sri Lanka’s crisis: Ethnonationalism and the legacy of the civil war

Sri Lanka was heading towards a political and economic crisis long before protestors in the capital of Colombo took to the streets and stormed the President’s House in early July, forcing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, a major contributor to the national economy, basically evaporated overnight. The war in Ukraine and Western sanctions on Russia, moreover, have triggered spiraling prices for essential resources and commodities that Sri Lankans depend on through imports. But the unfolding crisis in Sri Lanka was also manufactured by government mismanagement, corruption, and the consolidation of power in the decade following the end of the civil war in 2009, which embroiled the country in a perpetual state of emergency and violence for nearly 30 years. In part two of a TRNN’s special series on Sri Lanka’s crisis, Dr. Mythri Jegathesan examines the country’s 30-year civil war, and its lingering consequences in today’s crisis.

Dr. Mythri Jegathesan is a professor of anthropology at Santa Clara University. She is the author of Tea and Solidarity: Tamil Women and Work in Postwar Sri Lanka.

Post-Production: Adam Coley


The transcript of this interview will be made available as soon as possible.

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