Professor Sharika Thiranagama, Ph.D.

For her excellence in Anthropology.

Professor Sharika Thiranagama is Awarded Exceptional Achievement for her research on various aspects of the Sri Lankan civil war. Primarily, she has researched two ethnic groups: Sri Lankan Tamils and Sri Lankan Muslims. Her research explores changing forms of ethnicization, the effects of protracted civil war on ideas of home in the midst of profound displacement, and the transformations in and relationships between the political and the familial amid political repression and militarization.

Prof. Thiranagama is the Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research and Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University.

Since 2014, Prof. Thiranagama has also carried out new work in Kerala, South India, centring on Dalit agricultural communities in Kerala, South India. She examines how communist-led political mobilization transformed everyday political rallies and reconfigured older caste identities, re-entrenching caste inequalities into new kinds of private neighborhood life.

Prof. Thiranagama, In My Mother’s House: Civil War in Sri Lanka, this book deals, in detail, with the contrasting meanings of ‘home’ among the Northern Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims. Prof. Thiranagama portrays the images of the Northern Tamils, who determine a person’s character by learning about their home. They consider their relationship with the soil the most important of all. This aspect is well-researched in the book, which contributes significantly to political anthropology and the ethnography of violence, particularly concerning the concepts of home and displacement. The author investigates several issues, prominently the effects of the protracted war on the meanings amidst profound displacement, transformations of familial and generational experiences, and the impact of the political violence on civilians executed by both the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) and the Sri Lankan state.

Prof. Thiranagamas book is a significant complement to these works as she deals with a completely new approach to the concept of home in Sri Lanka. Her main aim is to examine the position of the victims of the war and their historical and political trajectories’, which shape their ideas of home. In addition, she studies home as an everyday language of love, affection, sentiment, and memory. To this reviewer, the most significant contribution of this book lies in elucidating the various ways in which the numerous internally displaced persons (IDPs) explore the meanings of home in times of crisis.

Prof. Thiranagama applies an innovative perspective on generations and generational divergences, focusing on the difference between young and old generations on war experiences. The focus of this review is mainly on the two issues mentioned above.

Prof. Thiranagama received the following Honors & Awards: a Grant for the project, The Local Level Social Life of Global Ideologies (Kerala), and The National Science Foundation. Cultural Anthropology Program (2015-2017), Post PhD. Research Grant, Wenner Gren Foundation (2015-2016). Received President American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies (2017 – Present), Elected Director, Board of Directors, American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies (2013 – Present). Elected Director, Board of Directors, American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies (2010 – 2013.).

Sri Lanka Foundation would like to Thank and Acknowledge Prof. Sharika Thiranagama for her work on highly fraught contexts of violence, inequality, and intense political mobilization. Her continued research is attempting to understand (rather than romanticize) patterns of sociability and how people live together (often in highly fractious and unequal ways), and to situate these processes in specific historical formations of “privates” and “publics” in South Asia.