Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Insurgent Rule as Sovereign Mimicry and Mutation: Governance, Kingship, and Violence in Civil Wars

  • Bart Klem (a1) and Sidharthan Maunaguru (a2)
Abstract

This article uses the case of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to make a conceptual argument about sovereignty. Despite its aura of natural order, sovereignty is ultimately self-referential and thus somewhat arbitrary and potentially unstable. At the heart of this unsteadiness, we posit, lies the paradox between the systematic tenets of rational governance and the capricious potential of sublime violence. Both are highly relevant to the LTTE case: the movement created de facto state institutions to mimic governance, but simultaneously deployed an elaborate transcendental register of sacrifice, meaning, and intractable power wielded by a mythical leader. To capture this paradox, we connect the literature on rebel governance with anthropological debates about divine kingship. We conceptualize sovereignty as a citational practice that involves the adaptation, imitation, and mutation of different idioms of authority: political and religious, modern and traditional, rational and mythical. Understanding sovereignty in this way debunks the idea that insurgent movements are merely lagging behind established states. As sites of mimicry, bricolage, and innovation, they transform the way sovereignty is practiced and understood, thus affecting the frame that sovereignty is.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Insurgent Rule as Sovereign Mimicry and Mutation: Governance, Kingship, and Violence in Civil Wars
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Insurgent Rule as Sovereign Mimicry and Mutation: Governance, Kingship, and Violence in Civil Wars
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Insurgent Rule as Sovereign Mimicry and Mutation: Governance, Kingship, and Violence in Civil Wars
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
bart.klem@unimelb.edu.au
References
Hide All
Abeles, Marc. 1988. Modern Political Ritual: Ethnography of an Inauguration and a Pilgrimage by President Mitterrand. Current Anthropology 29, 3: 391404.
Agamben, Giorgio. 2005. State of Exception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Arjona, Ana. 2014. Wartime Institutions: A Research Agenda. Journal of Conflict Resolution 58: 1390–418.
Arjona, Ana, Kasfir, Nelson, and Mampilly, Zachariah, eds. 2015. Rebel Governance in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Balasingham, Anton. 2004. War and Peace: Armed Struggle and Peace Efforts of Liberation Tigers. Mitcham: Fairmax Publishing.
Bartelson, Jens. 1995. A Genealogy of Sovereignty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Beverley, Eric L. 2013. Frontier as Resource: Law, Crime, and Sovereignty on the Margins of Empire. Comparative Studies in Society and History 55, 2: 241–72.
Bhabha, Homi. 1994. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.
Brun, Cathrine. 2008. Birds of Freedom. Critical Asian Studies 40, 3: 399422.
Burghart, Richard. 1996. The Conditions of Listening: Essays on Religion, History and Politics in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Caspersen, Nina. 2012. Unrecognized States: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Modern International System. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Degregori, Carlos. 2012. How Difficult It Is to Be God: Shining Path's Politics of War in Peru, 1980–1999. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei. 2010. Strategic Analysis of Sri Lankan Military's Counter-Insurgency Operations, Strategic Analysis Paper. West Perth: Future Directions International.
Fuglerud, Øivind. 2009. Fractured Sovereignty: The LTTE's State-Building in an Inter-Connected World. In Brun, Cathrine and Jazeel, Tariq, eds., Spatialising Politics: Culture and Geography in Post-Colonial Sri Lanka. London: Sage, 194215.
Geertz, Clifford. 1980. Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Gilmartin, David. 2012. Towards a Global History of Voting: Sovereignty, the Diffusion of Ideas, and the Enchanted Individual. Religions 3: 407–23.
Gilmartin, David. 2015. Rethinking the Public through the Lens of Sovereignty. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 38, 3: 371–86.
Hansen, Thomas B. 2001. Governance and the Myths of State in Mumbai. In Fuller, C. J. and Bénéï, Véronique, eds., The Everyday State and Society in Modern India. New Delhi: Social Science Press, 3167.
Hansen, Thomas B. and Stepputat, Finn, eds. 2005. Sovereign Bodies: Citizens, Migrants, and States in the Postcolonial World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hansen, Thomas B. and Stepputat, Finn. 2006. Sovereignty Revisited. Annual Review of Anthropology 35: 295315.
Hasbullah, Shahul. 2001. Muslim Refugees: The Forgotten People in Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict. Research and Action Forum for Social Development, Nuraicholai, Sri Lanka.
Heesterman, J. C. 1985. The Inner Conflict of Tradition: Essays in Indian Ritual, Kingship and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar. 1994a. The Tamil Tigers: Armed Struggle for Identity. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar. 1994b. The “Groups” and the Rise of Militant Secessionism. In Manogaran, Chelvadurai and Pfaffenberger, Bryan, eds., The Sri Lankan Tamils: Ethnicity and Identity. Boulder: Westview Press, 168207.
Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar. 2005. And Heroes Die: Poetry of the Tamil Liberation Movement in Northern Sri Lanka. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 28, 1: 112–53.
Hocart, A. M. 1941 [1927]. Kingship. London: Watts & Co.
Hoole, Rajan. 2001. Sri Lanka: The Arrogance of Power: Myths, Decadence and Murder. Colombo: University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna).
Jentzsch, Corinna, Kalyvas, Stathis, and Schubiger, Livia. 2015. Militias in Civil Wars. Journal of Conflict Resolution 59, 5: 755–69.
Kalyvas, Stathis. 2006. The Logic of Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kalyvas, Stathis. 2008. Ethnic Defection in Civil War. Comparative Political Studies 41, 8: 1043–68.
Kantorowicz, Ernst. 1997 [1957]. The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Klem, Bart. 2012. In the Eye of the Storm: Sri Lanka's Front-Line Civil Servants in Transition. Development and Change 43, 3: 695717.
Klem, Bart and Maunaguru, Sidharthan. n.d. (forthcoming). Public Authority under Sovereign Encroachment: Leadership in Two Villages during Sri Lanka's War. Modern Asian Studies 52, 2 (2018).
Korf, Benedikt, Engeler, Michelle, and Hagmann, Tobias. 2010. The Geography of Warscape. Third World Quarterly 31, 3: 385–99.
Mampilly, Zachariah. 2011. Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life during War. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Maunaguru, Sitralega. 1995. Gendering Tamil Nationalism: The Construction of “Woman” in Projects of Protest and Control. In Jeganathan, Pradeep and Ismail, Qadri, eds., Unmaking the Nation: The Politics of Identity and History in Modern Sri Lanka. Colombo: Social Scientists’ Association, 158–75.
Moffat, Chris. 2013. Experiments in Political Truth. Postcolonial Studies 16, 2: 185201.
Moffat, Chris. 2016. Bhagat Singh's Corpse. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 39, 3: 644–61.
Moin, Azfar A. 2015. Sovereign Violence: Temple Destruction in India and Shrine Desecration in Iran and Central Asia. Comparative Studies in Society and History 57, 2: 467–96.
Mongia, Radhika V. 2007. Historicizing State Sovereignty: Inequality and the Form of Equivalence. Comparative Studies in Society and History 49, 2: 384411.
Moore, Mick. 1993. Thoroughly Modern Revolutionaries: The JVP in Sri Lanka. Modern Asian Studies 27, 3: 593642.
Mukherjee, Mithi. 2010. India in the Shadow of Empire: A Legal and Political History, 1774–1950. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Natali, Cristiana. 2008. Building Cemeteries, Constructing Identities: Funerary Practices and Nationalist Discourse among the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. Contemporary South Asia 16, 3: 287301.
Pinney, Christopher. 2011. The Tiger's Nature, but not the Tiger: Bal Gangadhar Tilak as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's Counter-Guru. Public Culture 23, 2: 395416.
Purushotham, Sunil. 2015. Internal Violence: The “Police Action” in Hyderabad. Comparative Studies in Society and History 57, 2: 435–66.
Roberts, Michael. 1996. Filial Devotion in Tamil Culture and the Tiger Cult of Martyrdom. Contributions to Indian Sociology 30, 2: 245–72.
Roberts, Michael. 2014. Encompassing Empowerment in Ritual, War and Assassination. Social Analysis 58, 1: 88106.
Sánchez Meertens, Ariel. 2013. Letters from Batticaloa: TMVP's Emergence and the Transformation of Conflict in Eastern Sri Lanka, PhD thesis, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
Sanín, Francisco and Wood, Elisabeth. 2014. Ideology in Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond. Journal of Peace Research 51, 2: 213–26.
Sarvananthan, Muttukrishna. 2007. In Pursuit of a Mythical State of Tamil Eelam: A Rejoinder to Kristian Stokke. Third World Quarterly 28, 6: 1185–95.
Schalk, Peter. 1997a. The Revival of Martyr Cults among Ilavar. Temenos 33: 151190. At http://tamilnation.co/ideology/schalk01.htm (accessed 16 May 2016).
Schalk, Peter. 1997b. Historisation of the Martial Ideology of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 20, 2: 3572.
Schmitt, Carl. 2005 [1922]. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. Schwab, George, trans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Singh, Bhrigupati. 2012. The Headless Horseman of Central India: Sovereignty at Varying Thresholds of Life. Cultural Anthropology 27, 2: 383407.
Spencer, Jonathan. 2007. Anthropology, Politics and the State: Democracy and Violence in South Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Staniland, Paul. 2012. Organizing Insurgency: Networks, Resources and Rebellion in South Asia. International Security 37, 1: 142–77.
Staniland, Paul. 2014. Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Stengs, Irene. 2008. Modern Thai Encounters with the Sublime: The Powerful Presence of a Great King of Siam through His Portraits. Material Religion 4, 2: 160–71.
Stokke, Kristian. 2006. Building the Tamil Eelam State: Emerging State Institutions and Forms of Governance in LTTE-Controlled Areas in Sri Lanka. Third World Quarterly 28, 6: 1197–201.
Stokke, Kristian and Uyangoda, Jayadeva, eds. 2011. Liberal Peace in Question: Politics of State and Market Reform in Sri Lanka. London: Anthem Press.
Swamy, Narayan M. R. 1994. Tigers of Lanka: From Boys to Guerrillas. Delhi: Konark Publishers.
Swamy, Narayan M. R. 2003. Inside an Elusive Mind: Prabhakran, the First Profile of the World's most Ruthless Guerrilla Leader. Delhi: Literate World.
Thiranagama, Sharika. 2010. In Praise of Traitors: Intimacy, Betrayal and the Sri Lankan Tamil Community. In Thiranagama, Sharika and Kelly, Tobias, eds., Traitors: Suspicion, Intimacy and the Ethics of State-Building. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 127–49.
Thiranagama, Sharika. 2011. In My Mother's House: Civil War in Sri Lanka. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Trawick, Margaret. 2007. Enemy Lines: Warfare, Childhood, and Play in Batticaloa. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Walker, Robert. 1993. Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Watson, C. W. 1997. “Born a Lady, Became a Princess, Died a Saint”: The Reaction to the Death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Anthropology Today 13, 6: 37.
Weber, Cynthia. 1995. Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State and Symbolic Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Weber, Cynthia. 1998. Performative States. Millennium 27: 7795.
Wedeen, Lisa. 2003. Seeing like a Citizen, Acting like a State: Exemplary Events in Unified Yemen. Comparative Studies in Society and History 45, 4: 680713.
Weinstein, Jeremy. 2007. Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Whitaker, Mark. 2007. Learning Politics from Sivaram: The Life and Death of a Revolutionary Journalist in Sri Lanka. London: Pluto Press.
Wickramasinghe, Nira. 2006. Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identities. London: Hurst.
Winslow, Deborah and Woost, Michael, eds. 2004. Economy, Culture, and Civil War in Sri Lanka. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Wood, Elisabeth. 2008. The Social Processes of Civil War: The Wartime Transformation of Social Networks. Annual Review of Political Science 11: 539–61.
Wood, Elisabeth. 2009. Armed Groups and Sexual Violence: When Is Wartime Rape Rare? Politics & Society 37, 1: 131–61.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed