Department of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Windsor
Challenging Mythical and Liberation Narratives: The Poetry of Solakkili
A constitutive element of contemporary Tamil and Sinhalese nationalist discourse is a deployment of mythical narratives. Maranathul Vaalvom signified a decisive break with mythical narratives that dominated Tamil nationalist poetry since the 1950s. It also advanced the notion of liberation and liberation narratives that radically transformed the poetic landscape to assert the necessity of freedom while challenging the oppressive situations and ideological categories that sustained them. In so doing, it rendered new experiences of reality meaningful in terms of a political and poetic tradition that can be termed as resistant poetry. In this paper, I locate the post maranathul vaalvom poems of Solaikkili- a Muslim poet from Eastern Sri Lanka- as a site of creative resistance to the liberation claims of ethnic nationalisms in Sri Lanka. I argue that his resistance leads to a “border zones” of identity where cultural, ethnic, and stylistic norms are challenged by a poetics that initiates a multilayered process of appropriation and contestation of “being Tamil”, “being Muslim” and “being Ethnic”.
Prof. Cheran's research and teaching interests include transnationalism, forced migration and diasporic identities as well as Tamil Studies. From 1984 to 1992, Dr. Cheran was a working journalist in Sri Lanka where he was the editor and regular columnist for a biweekly newspaper that focused on human rights reporting in the context of Sri Lanka’s civil war. He has published seven anthologies of poetry in Tamil. His poems have been translated into English, German, Sinhala, Kannada and Malayalam. He is the co-editor of Thamil ini (Kalachuvadu: 2000), selected papers from the international Tamil studies and Tamil literary conference held in Chennai, India in 2000.