The book provides a detailed historically-based analysis of the origin, evolution and potential resolution of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka over the struggle to establish a separate state in its Northern and Eastern provinces. This conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the secessionist LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is one of the world’s most intractable contemporary armed struggles. The internationally banned LTTE is considered the prototype of modern terrorism. It is known to have introduced suicide bombing to the world, and recently became the first terrorist organization ever to acquire an air force.
The ‘iron law of ethnicity’ – the assumption that cultural difference inevitably leads to conflict – has been reinforced by the 9/11 attacks and conflicts like the one in Sri Lanka. However, the connections among ethnic difference, conflict, and terrorism are not automatic. This book broadens the discourse on the separatist conflict in Sri Lanka by moving beyond the familiar bipolar Sinhala versus Tamil ethnic antagonism to show how the form and content of ethnicity are shaped by historical social forces. It develops a multipolar analysis which takes into account diverse ethnic groups, intra-ethnic, social class, caste and other variables at the local, regional and international levels. Overall, this book presents a conceptual framework useful for comparative global conflict analysis and resolution, shedding light on a host of complex issues such as terrorism, civil society, diasporas, international intervention and secessionism.
'Bandarage's book broadens the discourse on the separatist conflict in Sri Lanka by moving beyond the familiar bipolar Sinhala versus Tamil ethnic antagonism to show how the form and content of ethnicity are shaped by historical social forces. Her multipolar analysis takes into account diverse ethnic groups, intraethnic, social class, caste and other variables at the local, regional and international levels' - Georgetown University, 2008
'Prof. Asoka Bandarage's latest book, The Separatist Conflict in Sri Lanka, Terrorism ethnicity, political economy, comes into this enclosed space like a breath of fresh air, easing the suffocation inside the closed ideological box. […] It opens up vistas that were never considered valid for analyzing the Sri Lankan conflict. In this respect her book not only breaks new ground but also presents a panoramic view of the conflict.' - H. L. D. Mahindapala; The Sri Lankan Guardian, January 2009
'It is an indispensable book for future studies and peace-making in Sri Lanka' - Daily Mirror, Sri Lankan morning daily; January 2009
'This book is a must-read for students, academics, and all others hoping to gain some understanding of the ethnic civil war beyond the "iron law of ethnicity' - A.R.M. Imtiyaz, Asia Policy, July 2009
"This is a gripping and valuable account of Sri Lanka’s descent into civil war, the consequences of which are still being played out…an excellent and highly recommended analysis of one of South Asia’s most intractable political and ethnic dilemmas." - Bruce Matthews, Pacific Affairs: Volume 83, No. 1 – March 2010
Introduction 1. Conceptual Frameworks: Broadening the Discourse 2. Prelude: The British Colonial Period and Early Years of Independence 3. From Class Struggle to Ethnic Separatism, 1971-1977 4. Liberalization, Authoritarianism, and Communal Violence, 1977-1983 5. Internationalization of the Secessionist Struggle, 1983-1987 6. Indian Intervention, Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, and Intensification of Violence, 1987-1994 7. A 'Peace Package', War, and the International Community, 1994-2002 8. Norwegian Facilitated Peace Initiative, 2002-2008 9. Globalization and Conflict Resolution: Separatism or Pluralism?