Between the Nationalists and the Fundamentalists, Still we have Hope!

Grewal, Kiran and Cegu Isadeen, Hasanah. 2021. Between the Nationalists and the Fundamentalists, Still we have Hope! In: Jordan McKenzie and Roger Patulny, eds. Dystopian Futures: Emotional Landscapes and Dark Futures. Bristol: Bristol University Press, pp. 89-103. ISBN 9781529214543 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

In this chapter we will focus on the relationship between affect and utopian and dystopian politics in contemporary post-war Sri Lanka. We make three main claims: first, that affect plays a crucial role in Sri Lankan politics and this has been underestimated and addressed by many liberal and progressive political actors. Second, the relationship between affect and politics is both locally contextual but also not something that applies only to non-Western societies that are often treated as having ‘dysfunctional’ or ‘immature’ politics. Third, while the dominant affective landscape feeds a dystopian vision of politics, there are also forms of utopian politics that are building alternative affective communities. These alternatives highlight both the embodied and the concrete nature of utopian political action that refute the characterization of utopianism as abstract and unrealistic.

To support these arguments our chapter consists of two core parts. First, in highlighting the importance of engaging with the affective dimension of politics in contemporary Sri Lanka we seek to bring into conversation two separate bodies of literature. First, the anthropological literature that has highlighted the role that ritual and myth have played in grounding and sustaining past political violence in Sri Lanka (Tambiah, 1986; Kapferer, 1988, 2001; Spencer, 2007) and that continue to influence contemporary political discourse (Ambos, 2015; Gunatilleke, 2018). Second, the theoretical work – focused mainly on the West – that has sought to trace the role that emotion plays in politics of domination, exclusion, oppression and resistance (Connolly, 2002; Ahmed, 2004; Berlant, 2011).

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"This is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of an extract/chapter published in Dystopian Futures: Emotional Landscapes and Dark Futures. Details of the definitive published version and how to purchase it are available online at:"


Emotion; Dark time; Dystopia; Utopia; Perceptions of the future; Climate change; Apocalypse; Future

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13 December 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2022 14:57

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13 Dec 2023 02:26


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