Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Ann Kingsolver


This research investigates the ways in which the long-term refugee camps have been structured in India and their implications on the lives of refugees. Sri Lankan refugees in India are one of the world's 33 largest protracted refugee situations. While some refugees reside in urban areas, the vast majority of them live in 114 refugee camps through the state of Tamilnadu. In 1991, one of India's most charismatic prime ministers was assassinated by a Sri Lankan Tamil suicide bomber who may have arrived in India with other refugees from Sri Lanka. Considering the event as a threat to national security, the government of India created warehouse refugee camps for the Sri Lankan refugees. In this research, I focus on the warehouse structure of refugee camps established for the Sri Lankan Tamils in the state of Tamilnadu. Using ethnographic research methods, this research asks the following questions: How does the structure of warehouse refugee camps shape the life choices of refugees and produce multiple marginalities in exile? How do the refugees resist and respond to the structure of warehouse camps in order to carve out new lives for themselves? How has encampment influenced the ways refugees construct an ideal future? For the last three decades, by living in militarized 10x10 spaces in overcrowded camps, the Sri Lankan refugees face severe economic, social, and cultural problems in their exile life. Despite these and other challenges, the refugees continue their struggle to escape from economic, social, and cultural marginalization of refugee warehousing.


© 2012, Sasikumar Balasundaram