Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > International Tamil Conferences on Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle > > Tamils in New Zealand - International Conference   > Toward A Tamil Transnationalism

Proceedings of the Conference on 'Tamils in New Zealand',
July 1996 - Wellington, New Zealand

Toward A Tamil Transnationalism

Professor Margaret Trawick

Professor Trawick from the Social Anthropology Department at Massey University received her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and PhD at the University of Chicago. She has carried out extensive field research in Tamil Nadu over the period 1973-1996, totalling 42 months. She speaks fluent Tamil and recently has carried out Internet-based research on the war in Sri Lanka.


In the post-cold-war world, power relations have rapidly become reconfigured. The autonomy of the nation-state is challenged from without by transnational flows of capital, cultures, and peoples; simultaneously the integrity of many nation-states is challenged from within by struggles for independence or self-determination by minority peoples.

Those who identify themselves as Sri Lankan Tamils are involved simultaneously in the globalization and the localization of Tamil culture. On the one hand, a war is being waged for a separate Tamil homeland within the small island currently named Sri Lanka. On the other hand, efforts are being made throughout the world to make Tamil culture better known to, and understood by, non-Tamil peoples, toward the end of establishing cross-cultural and cross-national alliances. The immediate and most urgent need is to free Tamil people remaining in Sri Lanka from the domination of a Sinhala-controlled government that is hostile to Tamil interests, and has been directly responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Tamil civilians.

A strong transnational Tamil community, diverse in many ways but united toward certain goals, may develop through current efforts to secure justice for Sri Lankan Tamils. The present paper will compare Tamil nationalist thought with Tamil transnationalism, in relation to concepts of the indigenous and the exogenous. The relation also will be examined between Tamil people in need of a homeland, and Tamil people for whom all places are home.



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