Jaffna Tamils Ethnic Identity Formation in Colombo: A Study on Identity Perception through Motivated Identity Construction

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: The Sri Lankan Tamils have been a part of complex history within Sri Lanka in regard to their ethnic Identity, which is mostly associated with the civil war that went on for almost 30 years. More than a decade after the end of the conflict, this thesis work analyzed how todays Jaffna Tamils view their own identity in Colombo. As a cosmopolitan melting pot, it brings in different groups and cultures of the island as well as international influences. For the methodology of this research a qualitative study design was used based on interviews with Jaffna Tamils, which was analyzed in accordance with the motivated identity construction theory created by Vignoles et al (2002; 2006). That is based on the six different identity motivation principles: ‘Self-esteem’, ‘Efficacy’, ‘Distinctiveness’, ‘Belonging’, ‘Continuity’ and ‘Meaning’. The results showed that self-esteem, efficacy, and belonging were strong motivational principles for the Tamil ethnic group. And that the pure, ancient and unique aspects associated with their traditional Jaffna identity and culture made up some of the strongest identity fragments for their perceived identity.

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