The “Purity” of Displacement and the Reterritorialization of Longing

Malathi de Alwis

in Sites of Violence

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2004 | ISBN: 9780520230729
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937055 | DOI:
The “Purity” of Displacement and the Reterritorialization of Longing

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This chapter uses the context of camps for displaced Muslims in Sri Lanka to explore the production of space through social relations. It describes how the refugees' out-of-placeness is reproduced and gendered through the moralizing discourses of the residents of that region. It also investigates how particular narratives and practices of the refugees reiterate the “purity” of their displacement through nostalgic reaffirmations of “placeness” and “home.” Then, it interrogates a particular practice of refugee women that, in their own way, reiterates a longing for “home” that is both similar to and different from that articulated by their male kin. The women's identity continues to be read primarily through the terms of sexuality. The fracturing of the material core of the “home” through the disparate dispersal of toilets, wells, and grinding stones across the refugee camp produced a concomitant longing for other material markers of that very in-placeness.

Keywords: refugees; displaced Muslims; Sri Lanka; refugee women; displacement; home; placeness; sexuality

Chapter.  8526 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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