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Geographies of eviction, expulsion and marginalization: stories and coping capacities of the Veddhas, Sri Lanka

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This paper identifies why the Veddhas, the indigenous population of Sri Lanka, have been exposed to forced relocation and marginalization at various historical junctures. Their history is a dramatic story of eviction, expulsion and marginalization, and a sad story of deprivation, ethnic discrimination and lack of human rights. The disempowerment of the Veddhas primarily relates to the dominating powers of authority of the Sri Lankan State and its effectuation of detrimental development policies and practices. The key concepts of marginalization, eviction and expulsion are discussed in relation to an analytical model illustrating how external and internal factors, collective capabilities and individual characteristics interact on and influence people's coping capacity. Veddhas in two villages have given accounts of their understanding of the situation. It is concluded that the disempowerment and disappearance of the Veddha culture are due to ignorance and the unwillingness of the State to procure an enabling environment that would improve the coping capacity of its indigenous population.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway

Publication date: 06 September 2000

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