Gayathri Lokuge

Title: ‘Even fish have an ethnicity’: Livelihoods and Identities of Men and Women in War-affected Coastal Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Description: The thesis highlights five specific conclusions based on the findings presented in the previous chapters. First, the embedded nature of economic activities, such as those in fisheries, means that they are dynamic, time- and space-bound, and mediated by how men and women chose to embody and disembody morality, religiosity and competing or complementary value systems. These dynamisms in morality contribute to the social re/construction of fisheries as work. Second, in contexts such as Sri Lanka, where society is violently divided along different identity lines, especially that of ethnicity, inclusive and sustainable post-war rebuilding and meaningful community cohesion will require understanding that a) ethnic identity is socially constructed and mediated by the enactment of other identity categories; b) men and women use agentive power in accessing livelihoods, shaping and reshaping identity discourses through their livelihood activities; and c) hierarchies of power are dynamic in nature. Third, local-level legitimacies are as important as the electorally won, constitutionally accorded legitimacy of the state in resource governance. Consequently, discourses on state-building in post-war contexts need to pay careful attention to these legitimising processes, to how local-level legitimacies are shaped and reshaped, and to the influence of local-level legitimacies in strengthening or weakening state legitimacy. Fourth, continued legacies of war shape the lives of men and women. Fifth, the findings of this thesis add a granularity to the ongoing debate within post-war Sri Lanka on the different ways that social identities of men and women are (re)shaped through their access to livelihood opportunities and resources. Expanding the argument that economic institutions reshape gender at the individual, interactional and institutional levels, this thesis shows that economic institutions and activities shape the intersecting identities of men and women in complex ways, both in terms of how they see themselves and in the way they organise their social and political lives in the wider society.

Supervisors: prof.dr.ir. DJM (Thea) Hilhorst, Dr Malathi de Alwis, prof. dr. ir. Georg Frerks

Key Publications:

More information:  Project page. 

Current information: http://www.cepa.lk/