Department of Urban and Rural Development
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Chair, "Being Tamil: Identity, Landscape and Ecology"
This panel will explore the construction of Tamil identity viewed through the lenses of geography, landscape and ecology. It will examine the continuities, transformations and contradictions of how Tamils have thought about their environment. The papers to be presented will deal with three aspects of the nexus between nature and society: historical literary expressions of environment, evolving place names and changing relationships between people and their environment. By examining how geography, landscape and ecology have shaped Tamilness in the historic and contemporary, and in the native and diasporic, this panel aims to highlight how Tamil understandings of the 'ecological' self relate to social, economic, political phenomena. The panel will open up discussion of how the physical and social environment interact in Tamil society and culture, and explore possible avenues for further work in this area.
Prof. Sriskandarajah has previously held academic positions in Sri Lanka, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Denmark prior to moving to Sweden this year. He has a background in agricultural sciences and an interest in interdisciplinary approaches to issues in the arena of complex human-nature relations. His current work in the emerging field of environmental communication is about understanding society's ways of constructing environmental problems and negotiating its responses to these problems.