Marrying for a Future: Transnational Sri Lankan Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War

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Friday, October 11th, 2019

Friday, October 11, 20194:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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The talk will be based on my newly published book Marrying for a Future: Transnational Sri Lankan Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War (University of Washington Press). The book examines the life of the Sri Lankan Tamil community in the time of war and migration before the war was ended in 2009. Three decades of war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, but the prolonged violence during the war devastated the Sri Lankan Tamil community, leading to a serious disruption of ordinary life and mass migrations to escape the violence of the state and of Tamil militants. Jaffna Tamils are now widely dispersed across the world – predominantly in Canada, continental Europe, UK, Australia and India. In the book I have focused on marriage processes (arrangements of transnational marriages), transit places where the actual marriage performance takes place, figures (e.g. marriage brokers, photographers) who facilitate marriages, visual documents (e.g. wedding photos), and laws, in order to understand how Sri Lankan Tamils, who have been dispersed across spaces, rebuilt and shaped their fragmented lives and communities through these documents/figures/ spaces/zones. This study suggests that those fragmented communities were rekindled by ‘in-betweens’ associated with the marriage process, actors like wedding photographers or marriage brokers, legal corpuses, and transit places. The practices, ceremonies, and performances during the marriage process hold an imagined and lived future/s, entangled with past and present. This book deals with temporalities, documents, relatedness and political violence.

Sidharthan Maunaguru is currently an assistant professor in anthropology at Department of Sociology and South Asian Studies at National University of Singapore. His research interests cover the areas of marriage, migration, religion, diaspora, politics, conscience, ethics, and law. He was awarded a Newton Fellowship by British Academia and Royal Society which was held at University of Edinburgh before he joined NUS. Maunaguru’s work is placed within the South Asian regions and beyond, it often includes multi-site fieldwork and intersects with anthropology, history and philosophy. He has published in Modern Asian Studies, Comparative Studies on Society and History, Religion and Society and Contributions to Indian Sociology. Maunaguru’s book titled Marrying for a Future: Transnational Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War is published in 2019 with University of Washington Press, and another of his article is forthcoming in Current Anthropology.

Marrying for a Future: Transnational Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War will be available for purchase at the venue.


Sidharthan Maunaguru
Department of Sociology and South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore

Francis Cody
Department of Anthropology and Asian Institute

Main Sponsor

Asian Institute


Centre for South Asian Studies


Department of Anthropology

Tamil Worlds Initiative

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