Event Name Occupying Weli Oya: Frontier Politics and Post-war Sri Lanka
Start Date 8th Feb 2018 4:00pm
End Date 8th Feb 2018 5:30pm
Duration 1 hour and 30 minutes


This paper studies contentious forms of territorialisation and spatial dynamics that have been part of state formation processes in the northeastern Dry Zone in post-war Sri Lanka. Historically a peripheral scrubland, the Dry Zone can be defined as a frontier: a sparsely populated area, or zone, that appears to be of marginal utility, but where sovereign power seeks to control. From early attempts to civilise the jungle up to post-war development projects, this region has continually been subject to competing ethno-political projects and military intervention. Focusing on an institutionalised settlement scheme (Weli Oya) within the Dry Zone that is part of a wider development project (the Mahaweli Development Project), the paper will draw on ethnographic data to explore how the integration of Sri Lanka’s northeast frontier into state controlled territory, can be used to inform and challenge our understanding of the complex and violent strategies that legitimise state formation in the margins.