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Title: Liberal peace/ethno-theocratic war: A biopolitical perspective on western policy in the Eelam war
Authors: Rajah, Ayshwarya Rajith Sriskanda
Advisors: Scott, D
Neocleous, M
Keywords: Biopolitics;Sri Lanka;Tamil;Commercial globalisation;Emergency laws
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Brunel University School of Social Sciences PhD Theses
Abstract: This thesis develops a biopolitical perspective on Western states’ longstanding opposition to the formation of a Tamil state (Tamil Eelam) in the northeastern parts of the island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). It does so by adopting and applying the concept of biopolitics as developed by Michel Foucault in the 1970s. Foucault used the idea of biopolitics to explain power relations and to consider peace through the matrix of war. He was especially interested in using this to understand power relations that emerged in the eighteenth century and especially in terms of the tensions between military confrontation and commercial expansion. This thesis adopts and applies the idea of biopolitics to the concept of liberal peace and its core principle, the security of global commerce, to offer a new interpretation of the rationale behind the opposition of Western states to the Tamil demand for political independence and their collaboration in Sri Lanka’s biopolitical transformation of the island into a Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-theocracy. As practitioners of the biopolitics of liberal peace, Western states have waged wars and collaborated in the wars of their Southern counterparts, allowing populations, including liberalised ones, to be killed, condoning the subversion of civil liberties, human rights and other democratic freedoms, including the right to selfdetermination of nations, that they simultaneously promote. The thesis explores the extent to which the collaboration of the West with the Sri Lankan state’s racist policies and counterinsurgency efforts is a continuation of the colonial policies of the British Empire in Ceylon. In developing a biopolitical perspective on the liberal state-building practices of the British Empire in colonial Ceylon, Sri Lanka’s adoption of the same practices, and the West’s own efforts to neutralise the Tamils’ armed struggle, the thesis explores the ways that power relations produce the effects of battle, and thus the way that peace becomes a means of waging war. When the power relations of law, finance, politics, and diplomacy produce the effects of battle, they become ways of waging war by other means. As well as being a thesis on Western policy in the war in Sri Lanka, the work is therefore also to some extent an attempt to see how far Foucault’s work on biopolitics might be pushed and developed and thus, at the same time, an attempt to turn the Foucauldian focus to an area thus far unexplored by those who have sought to engage with Foucault’s work.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Politics and International Relations
Dept of Politics, History and Law Theses

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