This article analyses Sri Lanka's April 2010 parliamentary elections as they played out in the Muslim community on the east coast. The political work of elections, as the article shows, involves a lot more than the composition of government. Antagonism over group identities and boundaries are at centre stage. Elections force people to show their colours, which causes turbulence as they grapple with several, possibly contradictory, loyalties. The article argues that elections bring together different political storylines, rather than one master antagonism. It is the interaction between different narratives that paradoxically provides elections both with a sense of gravity and dignity, and with the lingering threat of rupture and disturbance.
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