While existing scholarship is largely interested in exploring how a particular (nonhuman) animal symbol is mobilized to support a specific exclusionary agenda, what happens when the very nation is imagined as a “web” of different constituent “species”? In this article, the author examines four nonhuman animal symbols—the lion, the tiger, the pig, and the butterfly, which have been mobilized in Sri Lanka to delineate (imaginary) boundaries between different communities that reside there. The article combines critical animal studies and nationalism studies scholarship with affect theory to complicate the current understandings on the relationships between animality, affect, and nationalism. A focus on affect, the author argues, can open up a line of inquiry that is invisible to our current accounts on the relationships between animality and nationalism by demonstrating how animality can be instrumentalized as a tool for not only domination and subordination but also subversion, refusal, and contestation. Tracing the different ways in which animality gets mobilized to represent various communities that reside within the nation, the article highlights the complex ways in which animality can be mobilized within nation-building and how bodies negotiate and respond to such assignations.

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