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Abstract

In this paper I argue that the internally displaced Muslim women’s experience of displacement and their perception of new developments since the last round of peace initiative between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE are significantly different from their male counterparts in that the women find these experiences as empowering in some respects. The paper also evidence that this empowerment is differently experienced by women belonging to different social classes. Women have been identified as a problem body within the Muslim community and restrictions on Muslim women have been justified through discourses on family honor and frivolous women. The forced regional boundary crossing had resulted in Muslim women playing a different role in public space as the targeted population for NGO activities. They have become “a needed body of persons,” through a skillfully negotiated traversing among fluid boundaries, most of which are not physical. While the state, the humanitarian agencies and the urban Muslim community amidst they live now all shape the gendered subjectivities of internally displaced Muslim people the very same discourses allow women to transcend barriers they formally faced in entering public space and to negotiate positions within and against the subjectivities created for them.

Note on the Author

Sandya Hewamanne is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Wake Forest University. She is the author of Stitching Identities in a Free Trade Zone: Gender and Politics in Sri Lanka (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2008). She has also published a number of peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Social Text, Feminist Studies, Cultural Dynamics and Anthropology of Work Review. Her research interests include globalization, identity, cultural politics and feminist and post-colonial theory.

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