Between the Home and the World in Violent Conflict


Pieris, Anoma. 2012. “Between the Home and the World in Violent Conflict.” Gender, Place & Culture 19 (6): 771–89.

Author: Anoma Pieris


Throughout Sri Lanka's civil war (1983–2009) official and international news media was dominated by ethnic politics while civilian voices remained silent. Similarly, at the end of the war, media manipulation of civilian traumas for a continuing political contest between the Sri Lankan Government and Tamil diasporic groups shut down other discursive frameworks. The more intimate stories of loss, bereavement, depression and grief were manipulated for a prolonged and bitter nationalist struggle. This article returns to a medium in which these stories were previously voiced, during the war years, in South Asian cinema. Due to government censorship of news media and limited access to the war zone, the local film industries proved to be the more cogent mediums for representing deep-rooted cultural anxieties to mainstream audiences. They conveyed everyday realities absent from news media in fictional interpretations of real events. Questions were raised regarding the affective memories and loyalties of the ethnic conflict and the role of women. The home, its destruction, displacement or re-inscription through violence became a central concern. This article focuses on three South Asian films that explored the subject of motherhood, homelessness and militarization of the ethno-cultural domestic sphere at the height of the ethnic conflict. Their shift from the urban public sites of military contest to private domestic spaces of civilian experience offered a cultural examination of political violence. By revisiting them as early conjectures of civilian trauma we ask how their interpretations of gender and place might be understood in the wake of the civil war.

Keywords: film, gender, civil war, homelessness, home, modernity

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Civil Society, Gender, Women, Media, Households, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2012

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at