Short Research Papers

ICES, Colombo has commissioned over 20 research papers on the theme of post-war reconciliation, justice and development covering a wide range of issues such as: the role of cinema in post-war reconciliation, women’s testimonies before the LLRC, the role of judiciary in reconciliation. Four papers have been published:


  • “The Transition to Civilian Life of Teenage Girls and Young Women Ex-Combatants: A Case Study from Batticaloa” by Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan: Published in June 2012

This study focuses on the reintegration processes of both ex-combatants who have been rehabilitated and released by the GoSL and the former girl-child soldiers who self-demobilised in 2004. The author argues that disabled ex-combatants, more so female disabled ex-combatants, face serious reintegration obstacles in the absence of specific medical and psychosocial care in communities.

  • ·         “Producing the Present: History as Heritage in Post-War Patriotic Sri Lanka” by Nira Wickramasinghe:Published in August 2012

This paper explores the consolidation by a patriotic post-conflict state of a notion of history reinvented as national heritage. The distinction between history as an analysis of the past and heritage was rarely made explicit in the public discourse of Sri Lanka. After the war ended the distinction disappeared entirely except in some rare university history departments. Heritage as we understand it, is present centred and is created, shaped and managed by and in response to, the demands of the present. It is to follow David Lowenthal, ‘Heritage is not History’.  While it borrows from and enlivens historical study, heritage is not an enquiry into the past but a celebration of it. The distinction between heritage and history is one of motive. Heritage is best understood as a claim, a special pleading. History in post-war Sri Lanka has abandoned specialised journals to inhabit and flourish in theatre, film, videos and pamphlets encouraged by the patriotic state. Professional historians too have either left the public sphere or acquiesced in the production of a history/heritage.

  • “Reconciling What? History, Realism and the Problem of an Inclusive Sri Lankan Identity” by Harshana Rambukwella:  Published in August 2012

This paper examines the lack of an inclusive pan-Sri Lankan identity in relation to literary representations and understandings of nation, looking specifically at the work of the English language writing of Yasmine Gooneratne and Ambalavaner Sivanandan and the Sinhala writing of Gunadasa Amarasekara. While Sri Lankan history may not yield much evidence of an inclusive national identity one needs to raise the question as to why literature, which might be seen as a discourse where the improbable and idealistic is often explored, has failed to yield such a conception of idealistic nationhood. The tentative answer to this complex and multifaceted question proposed here is that it is related to the dominance of historical consciousness within the Sri Lankan cultural imagination and the choice of realism as a mode of representation.

  • “Fishing in Turbulent Waters” by Sumith Chaaminda: ICES Working Paper No. 2, Published in September 2012

Using the fishing industry in the Northern and Eastern provinces as a case-study, the author assesses the extent to which the government’s development initiatives have contributed towards reducing ethnic tensions in the war-affected areas. This paper argues that rather than opening new avenues towards ethnic reconciliation, the government’s post-war development strategy has led to an increased asymmetry in the distribution of the benefits of economic growth between ethnic communities.

  • “Speaking of Justice: Women’s Testimonies and the LLRC in Post war Sri Lanka ” by Neloufer de Mel: ICES Research Paper No. 4, Published in March 2013


This essay considers the issue of post-war justice in Sri Lanka through a discussion of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and the testimonies of the women who came before it. Drawing on Amartya Sen’s Idea of Justice (2009), it contextualises the LLRC, which was established in May 2010 to look into the causes of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and recommend measures of restitution to victims of war as well as institutional and administrative reform to prevent further violence, within two dominant schools of thought on justice. These two schools—the transcendental and realisable—have shaped the discourse and debates on the LLRC, the implementation of its recommendations, as well as the wider issues of accountability and restorative justice in the aftermath of war. Examining the LLRC’s evidentiary promise to womensurvivors of war who went before the Commission, the essay looks at the conditions which shaped their testimony, , their narrative registers, the women’s ideas on justice and the cultural resources they fall back on to elicit justice. In doing so the essay interrogates the relationality of transcendental and realisable justice itself, even as it offers a gendering of post-war justice in contemporary Sri Lanka.

the Promise of the LLRC

Other papers in this series that we hope to publish in 2013 include Organisational Politics and Negotiated Order in the Canadian Tamil Diaspora: 1978-2012 by Amarnath Amarasingham; Building a Peaceful Future by Recognising the Past by Hammad Sheikh, Eranda Jayawickreme, Nuwan Jayawickreme and Jeremy Ginges;