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Transnational Political Engagement in Post War Justice: The Case Study of Sri Lanka

Palansuriya, N. (2023). Transnational Political Engagement in Post War Justice: The Case Study of Sri Lanka. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis answers the key question: ‘What shapes the nature of transnational political engagements with post-war justice in the homeland?’, using Sri Lanka and the Tamil transnational community as a case study. The research is based on a constructivist grounded theory approach, underpinned by existing literature on migration, integration, cosmopolitanism and social movements theory, and informed by qualitative data collection. The thesis maps out mobilising practices of the Tamil transnational community, by exploring their engagement with different aspects of post-war justice, influenced by political opportunity structures, mobilising structures, and language used to frame and legitimise post-war issues. The research finds that this collective level engagement is enabled or constrained by three main factors at the individual level, that is the migration experience; the financial, social and political capital in the host country; and the political ideologies, beliefs and values of individual diaspora actors.

Studying these factors in relation to the Sri Lankan case study, at both the individual and collective level, have culminated in the following conclusions regarding the nature of Tamil transnational engagement with the post-war justice process in Sri Lanka. An antagonistic relationship between home state and Tamil transnational activists, created by the forced migration experience, contributes to the contentious nature of the post-war justice process. Secondly, Tamil transnational activists use their status and resources in the host country, as a result of integration, to influence those governments and international bodies towards engagement with the post-war justice process in the homeland. Thirdly, post-war justice is perceived differently by different actors, and competing demands arise from the Tamil transnational community, informed by a cosmopolitan worldview of justice as compared to the nationalist majoritarian ideology of the home country. These conclusions point to the main conclusion that transitional justice is the new site for the transformation of the conflict, as the conflict dynamics continue even in the post-war era, specifically in the transnational political field. However, it has been transformed from military warfare to non-violent and diplomatic forms, using liberal democratic norms, ideologies and political activism. Transitional justice is considered a ‘site’ since, in the post-war era, the conflict continues - not in a physical space but around the ‘transitional justice’ discourse and framework.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Palasuriya Thesis 2023 PDF-A.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 30 September 2026 due to copyright restrictions.


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