In Depth: Sri Lanka’s Civil War

I just recently uncovered the final paper I wrote for my senior seminar in college and over the past few days I’ve been reading through it and the various articles and materials I used while conducting my research. The class was called “Political Violence, Revolutions, and Ethnic Conflict;” here’s the official description:

Students familiarize themselves with the vast literature on revolutions, political violence, and ethnic conflict and are exposed to a variety of theoretical perspectives and case studies. How to draw on theoretical approaches to make sense of specific instances of political turmoil and, conversely, how to use case studies to assess the validity of different theories.

That description doesn’t necessarily do the course justice; it was probably the most challenging and rewarding course I took at college. I chose to write my final paper on the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka. With America’s attention firmly locked on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I thought it’d be interesting to explore a conflict that was completely off our radar. Sri Lanka’s protracted civil war definitely fits the bill and it’s unfortunate that this is the case not necessarily for altruistic reasons (although certainly that’s a consideration), but rather because the conflict is extraordinarily compelling for anyone who’s interested in the underpinnings of ethnic conflicts.

Over the course of the next few days/weeks I’ll be going through my materials and highlighting some of the more interesting tidbits I uncovered while doing my research. I’ll also be tracking and commenting on recent developments in the civil war. For a recent update/very brief summary of the conflict, check out this article in the most recent issue of the Economist.

photo from Sunk Without Trace on flickr

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