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The Young Researchers Forum 2012 20th & 21st January, 2012 Western Province Aesthetic Resort, Colombo

Session: Minorities: Place and Belonging Date: 20th January, 2012 Time: 3.30pm-4.30pm
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The Young Researchers Forum 2012 Life Changes of Migrants I.D.G. Dharmasinghe Date of Research: January 2009 January -2011 Specific Area of Research This study focuses on the changes in lifestyle of the Tamil internal migrants who moved from Jaffna to Wellawatte (Colombo) since 2005, as a result of the war. The research examines how they have shaped their lives in the new social and economic context.

Core Argument Traditionally, the fates of displaced and migrant populations have been shaped either through government assistance or through their own means. In this paper, it is my intention to highlight the efforts made by the latter category to rebuild their lives following protracted migration. In general, instead of integrating into existing communities, the migrants seek to establish separate spaces which are socially and culturally distinct. I will focus on the ways and means through which the Tamil population from Jaffna has placed their lives within the new context, which has been shaped by various factors and internal changes in their lives. Specifically, I will engage in an analysis of the notion of Home and the potential for return within the context of migration or displacement in Sri Lankas post-war social settings. I argue that the efforts made by these internal migrants who settled down in this environment in order to avoid facing changes, have resulted in a new order in the Wellawatte area and their lives. Even though the opportunities in this new environment

The Young Researchers Forum 2012 have prevented them from returning to where they came from, they still maintain their sense of home- Jaffna whilst living in little Jaffna (Wellawatte).

Importance and Relevance In Sri Lanka, there are thousands of people who have migrated internally during the war. Some people have migrated to urban areas, and others to rural areas. However, with the end of the war, a return to normal life is expected from everyone in the country. (Re)settlement plays a major role in the context of post war reconciliation and it has been articulated as returning home. Therefore, it is important to focus on resettlement due to the complex and varying factors in lives of the migrant population who have directly suffered from the war. In this context, it is known that the current regime is engaging in development projects claiming that development is the answer for the North and the East. Conversely, there is a discourse that holds that large scale destruction has taken place in certain areas in the name of development projects which has resulted in the removal of memories which are symbolic of a Tamil homeland. This action eliminates the one particular force
that challenged the Sinhala idea of an imaginary homeland, a notion referred to as Lakdiva. In

this context, it is important to examine the opinions and perspectives of the affected people with regard to to return and what it signifies to them.

Methodology This study is based on an extensive review of literature and in particular, on the findings of the research conducted for my BA degree in 2009. After the war I revisited the areas in question and conducted interviews in order to gain an understanding of matters relating to return. The sample of the study was 30 Tamil people who moved from Jaffna to Wellawatte after 2005; and I interviewed them using the snow-ball

The Young Researchers Forum 2012 sampling method. The interpretive approach will be deployed as the methodology of this research. Accordingly, this research tries to improve our knowledge of the social world based on the understanding of people and the explanation given by them to phenomena through their inter-subjective experience.

Potential Impact A main objective of this study is to expand the existence of socio-political knowledge on internal migration.