Issue 44: Identity and the State (9/25/2014)
This issue of SAMAR explores identity and the state . Considering two specific locales, Sri Lanka and the US, the pieces in this issue look at state repression and policing of citizens, and the practice of identity and identification. Although narratives of social and political progress mark each site—a decades-long civil war ends in Sri Lanka and the U.S. opens to black political leadership in its highest office—minority communities are increasingly terrorized and patrolled via state-backing and strategic blind-eye.
Nimmi Gowrinathan and Sithy Farzana bring us close to the fire in Sri Lanka, where anti-Muslim state violence is becoming frequent. Stateside, Priya Kandaswamy reports on Urban Shield, a weapons expo sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and aimed at the militarization of local police forces. In her review of a web project documenting Sri Lankan elder’s stories, Ahalya Satkunaratnam considers how their tales of everyday struggle complicate the state’s own narrative framing of conflict. Finally, the poetry of Deepa Panchang and Noor Hassan offers a perspective on South Asian American identity from the U.S. midwest and south.