Identifications with an ‘aesthetic’ and ‘moral’ diaspora amongst Tamils of diverse state origins in Britain

Demelza Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter employs Pnina Werbner's notion of diasporas as moral communities of suffering and co-responsibility, as well as aesthetic communities of shared transnational consumption of culture and performance of ritual, and relates this to the case of Tamil migrants of diverse state origins in Britain. Sri Lankan Tamil migrants I interviewed towards my research imagine membership of a Tamil diaspora as based on personal (or familial) experiences of suffering in the Sri Lankan civil war, which acts both to create bonds with other Sri Lankan Tamils, and to distinguish from Tamils of other state origins (Indian, Singaporean etc.) despite cultural commonalities (Werbner's aesthetic diaspora). Conversely, many of the non-Sri Lankan Tamil migrants I interviewed imagined these boundaries in more flexible terms, and claimed membership of the 'community of suffering' in ways which did not necessitate personal experience, but rather privileged symbolic constructions of the ethnic community, and an interpretation of historical and current events in India, Sri Lanka (and other sites of Tamil population) as components of a single narrative of Tamil victimhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDismantling diasporas
Subtitle of host publicationrethinking the geographies of diasporic identity, connection and development
EditorsAnastasia Christou, Elizabeth Mavroudi
Place of PublicationFarnham (UK)
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4724-3034-2, 978-1-4724-3035-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-4724-3033-5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2015


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