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Globalization, Terror and the Shaming of the Nation

This book traces the troubled nexus between the sweeping globalization, which gained momentum in the early-1980s across Sri Lanka, and the cultures of terror, which unraveled over the rest of the decade. It explores the way in which these forces impacted on local discourses of masculinity in Sinhala society, transforming, in turn, the way in which a whole new generation of young boys engaged in the construction ofmasculinities in sites such as the high school.
This book traces these processes through an ethnographic study of extraordinarily violent event that took place in a Sinhala village in Sri Lanka. Here twenty-two schoolboys attending the most prestigious school in the district were kidnapped from their homes, taken to a neighbouring army camp, tortured and killed.
This event took place in January 1990, in the wake of an armed uprising by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna - a Sinhala-speaking insurgent grouping - and its harsh repression by the Sri Lankan State. This event was also played-out against the background of the escalating Sinhala-Tamil ethnic conflict, which created a heightened sense of cultural besiegement across both communities in Sri Lanka. But most of all, it occurred against the unfolding of the 'new' globalization of the 1980s which swept across South Asia. The new globalization at once radicalized a new generation of young persons while creating new anxieties of the vitiation of nation and culture among the native intelligentsia and figures of authority such assoldiers, policeman, leaders and activists of the party-in-power.
Through the specificities of this event then, the writer attempts to draw implications for the way in which such horrific eventsare enacted everywhere. Such events are united in their excessive violence, and by the fact that both perpetrators and victims are mostly men and boys. She argues that the growing globalization of many marginal cultures condition the way in which young boys engage in the construction of masculinities at the local-level. This results in a clash of praxis between and within generations, the unfolding of which frequently involves spectacular violence.
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About the Author

Jani de Silva completed a BA(hons) in Political Science and went on to do a MSc and Phd in Anthropology. This manuscript is based on a Phd thesis submitted to the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics, in 2000. She received a John D and Catherine T MacArthur post-doctoral Research and Writing-up Award in 2001. She is currently working on the nexus between globalization, violence and the local construction of masculinities in Sri Lanka.

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