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Abstract

The Sri Lankan state's power to narrate the war and characterize the enemy is an expression of “triumphalist nationalism” and is a selective remembering of war. Based on photographs taken during several field visits to these sites by both authors between December 2012 and January 2014, we analyze the relationship of war and tourism and how a particular Sinhala nationalist remembering of the war and landscape of memory are being constructed in post-war Sri Lanka.

Today, Sri Lanka is a former war zone where the Government's troops defeated the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) and ended 26 years of violent conflict in May 2009. The end of the war came at a huge cost to civilian life in the northern part of the country; the UN estimates that over 40,000 people were killed, most of whom were Tamils who form the majority in Northern Sri Lanka. Despite the end of military conflict, war continues by other means, and its representation encapsulates a nationalist politics of victory that at once vilifies the defeated LTTE “terrorists” and excludes Northern Tamils from the Sri Lankan polis. The LTTE's former hideouts, training facilities, weapons, and vehicles are now tourist sites on display for public viewing.