Unlikely Cosmopolitans:Migration And Morality Amongst Sri Lankan Catholics
Sri Lankan Catholic families that successfully migrated to Italy encountered multiple challenges upon their return. Although most of these families set off pursuing very specific material objectives through transnational migration, the difficulties generated by return migration forced them to devise new and creative arguments to justify their continued stay away from home. This ethnography traces the migratory trajectories of Catholic families from the area of Negombo and suggests that - due to particular religious, historic and geographic circumstances- the community was able to develop a cosmopolitan attitude towards the foreign that allowed many of its members to imagine themselves as -better fit[DOUBLE VERTICAL LINE] for migration than other Sri Lankans. But this cosmopolitanism was not boundless, it was circumscribed by specific ethical values that were constitutive of the identity of this community. For all the cosmopolitan curiosity that inspired people to leave, there was a clear limit to what values and practices could be negotiated without incurring serious moral transgressions. My dissertation traces the way in which these iii transnational families took decisions, constantly navigating between the extremes of a flexible, rootless cosmopolitanism and a rigid definition of identity demarcated by local attachments. Through fieldwork conducted between January and December of 2010 in the predominantly Catholic region of Negombo, I examine the work that transnational migrants did to become moral beings in a time of globalization, individualism and intense consumerism. My work was based in two small fishing villages that surround the central area of Negombo - located thirty miles to the north of Colombo along the coast of the Indian Ocean. This dissertation therefore engages with non-elitist and rooted theories of cosmopolitanism as well as with contemporary philosophical and anthropological developments in the study of morality. These approaches understand morality beyond its deontological dimension and interpret it as a kind of practice, a work on the self geared towards becoming a particular kind of person. iv
Cosmopolitanism; Sri Lanka; Catholicism
Munasinghe, Viranjini P
Willford, Andrew C.; Blackburn, Anne M.
Ph.D. of Anthropology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis