Muslim geographies, violence and the antinomies of community in eastern Sri Lanka

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Abstract

This paper studies the intricate relations between violence and the politics of community in a Muslim enclave in the east coast of Sri Lanka. The enclave will not only be studied as a war-ridden place, but more so in order to explore the antinomies of community that stem from an inherent governmentality that was triggered by the territorial prisonhood of the enclave situation. Violence, as we will show, is not an interruption, but an intensified continuation of politics – of the politics of community and its dynamics of unity and friction, which bring to the fore questions of the relationality of politics/religion, the boundaries of the political in Sri Lanka's Muslim community as well as in Sri Lanka's fragmented and violence-striven polity more broadly. It will be argued that what is at play is a politics of purification, whereby violence becomes a project of community: violence in the name of purity and an imaginary of community produces ‘antinomies of community’, i.e. the paradoxes of unity and friction that transgress political collectives.

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