Finding a place. Local integration and protracted displacement in Sri Lanka
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- Institutt for geografi 
In October 1990, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam expelled the entire Muslim population living in the LTTE-controlled areas of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Most of the northern Muslims arrived and settled in Puttalam District in the North Western Province, where the majority are still living as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Based on fieldwork during four periods from 1998 to 2001, this thesis analyses the local integration processes unfolding in Puttalam after the arrival of the northern Muslims. It particularly explores these processes as practiced by the IDPs and the host population and asks: what distinguishes local integration processes in situations of protracted internal displacement; and how do war-related displacement and the following local integration processes change social organisation, practices, identities and place. Local integration has been analysed through a "local perspective" of displacement' which implies studying displacement where it takes place. It implies asking what place displaced people and their hosts have the right to; and where and how displacement and local integration processes unfold. The main dimension of the local perspective considered is reterritorialisation: the finding and construction of one's place in society after displacement. Reterritorialisation is explored through looking at how displaced and their hosts make homeplaces and livelihoods after displacement. It is shown how the displaced people are gradually settling more permanently in Puttalam, while still holding aspirations to return to the north. The finding of place and making of a life involve negotiations between displaced and their hosts about the rights to resources and territories. Although such negotiations do create more understanding between hosts and IDPs, they also show that local integration processes in protracted displacement do not unfold in a linear way, but are rather distinguished by a "doubleness": integration is both inclusion and exclusion; innovation and marginalisation, feelings of permanence and impermanence. Displacement and local integration involve a feeling of belonging to several places, of planning for alternative futures in those places, and the struggle to find a secure place in society. War and displacement lead to enduring variations in the access to citizenship rights and in the opportunity to exercise these rights effectively. Through forced displacement, boundaries between people have been established, strengthened and broken down. The northern Muslims' protracted mass displacement has changed the territorial organisation of ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. Social categories and identities - IDPs and hosts in particular, but also ethnicity and gender - have been constructed, negotiated and reconstructed. New settlement patterns have changed the physical and spatial structure of Puttalam and new links between Puttalam and elsewhere have emerged. The thesis concludes by suggesting that in order to consider local integration as a solution to protracted crises of displacement, more emphasis must be placed on the process already from the earliest arrival stage. This process should involve a recognition of the "doubleness" of displacement and the changing needs and aims of displaced people and their hosts as this process unfolds. In order to prevent marginalisation and promote development, recognition must also be given to all parties in this process.