Malathi de Alwis

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Malathi (Mala) de Alwis is a feminist scholar and activist at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka. She also teaches in the MA Program in Women's Studies at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo and was Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Faculty, New School for Social Research, New York, previously. She is currently coordinating a multi-sited, multi-lingual, multi-disciplinary research project entitled: "Post-Tsunami Reconstruction in Contexts of War: A grassroots study of the geo-politics of Humanitarianian Aid in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia."

De Alwis earned her Ph.D. in Socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago, where she was a founding member of the Women Against War Coalition and a winner of the Ruth Murray Memorial Prize for Best Essay in Gender Studies. She is also a poet and short story writer and has been involved in several film projects. She has for many years contributed to an anonymous feminist column, Cat's Eye, which is published every Wednesday in the English daily, The Island. Also, she likes bears.

Research[edit]

De Alwis describes her research interests in the following manner: "Much of my early work focused on gender, nationalism, militarism and resistance culminating in my dissertation research on the conditions of possibility of motherhood in political protest in Sri Lanka. I have extended my concern with these issues in two slightly different trajectories at present: (1) re-thinking feminist peace activism in Sri Lanka, especially how the category of the 'political' is constituted, mobilized and re-iterated and (2) interrogating the categories of suffering and sentiment — initially explored in conjunction with the category of motherhood — within the broader context of humanitarian aid in times of conflict and the more recent tsunami which devastated vast swathes of the coast of Sri Lanka." [1]

Selected Publications/Books[edit]

  • Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones. Co-edited with Wenona Giles, Edith Klein & Neluka Silva. Toronto: Between the Lines (2003). (This vol. has been translated into Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian, Sinhala & Tamil).
  • Casting Pearls: The Women's Franchise Movement in Sri Lanka. With Kumari Jayawardena. Colombo: Social Scientists' Association, 2001.
  • Cat's Eye: A Feminist Gaze on Current Issues. Colombo: Social Scientists' Association, 2000.
  • Embodied Violence: Communalising Women’s Sexuality in South Asia. Co-edited with Kumari Jayawardena. Delhi: Kali for Women/London: Zed Press, 1996.

Selected Publications/Articles[edit]

  • "The 'Purity' of Displacement and the Re-territorialization of Longing : Muslim Women Refugees in North-Western Sri Lanka", in Sites of Violence: Feminist Politics in Conflict Zones, eds.Wenona Giles & Jennifer Hyndman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
  • “Feminism” in A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics, eds. Joan Vincent and David Nugent. Boston: Blackwell, 2004.
  • “Beyond Gender: Towards a Feminist Analysis of Humanitarianism and Development in Sri Lanka” in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. XXXI: 3&4, Fall/Winter 2003. With Jennifer Hyndman.
  • “ ‘Housewives of the Public’: The Cultural Signification of the Sri Lankan Nation” in Crossing Borders & Shifting Boundaries, Vol.2, eds. Ilse Lenz, Helma Lutz, Mirjana Morokvasic-Muller, Claudia Schoning-Kalender & Helen Schwenken. Opladen: Leske + Budrich, 2002.
  • "Ambivalent Maternalisms: Cursing as Public Protest in Sri Lanka" in The Aftermath: Women in Post-war Reconstruction, eds. Meredeth Turshen, Sheila Meintjes & Anu Pillay. London: Zed Press, 2001.
  • "The Contingent Politics of the Women's Movement in Sri Lanka", with Kumari Jayawardena, in Women in Post-Independence Sri Lanka, ed. Swarna Jayaweera. Delhi: Sage, 2002.
  • "The 'Language of the Organs': The Political Purchase of Tears in Sri Lanka" in Haunting Violations: Feminist Criticisms & the Crisis of the 'Real', eds. Wendy Hesford and Wendy Kozol. Champagne: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2000.

Sources[edit]

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