Vindhya Buthpitiya, 2023. "“The Truth Is in the Soil”: The Political Work of Photography in Northern Sri Lanka", Citizens of Photography: The Camera and the Political Imagination, Christopher Pinney, The PhotoDemos Collective, Naluwembe Binaisa, Vindhya Buthpitiya, Konstantinos Kalantzis, Ileana L. Selejan, Sokphea Young
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This chapter examines the political work of photography in northern Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the island's civil war (1983–2009). Here, everyday “photographing” and the vibrant personal and political recontextualization and rematerialization of photographic images illuminate the effects of war and the lingering political frictions and grievances of the postwar. Within diverse ethnographic contexts spanning commemoration, activism, and state surveillance, the making and moving of photography play a significant role in improvisations to imagine and secure personal and collective political futures. Where Tamil citizenship is defined as one of complexity and impairment against a backdrop of ethno-nationalist conflict, photography serves as a means to claim and make visible what is suppressed in the wake of war and enduring violence. The medium reveals, importantly, its potential for cultivating borderless political socialities and solidarities that foreground possibilities for self-determination.