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A Financial Resource but a Disloyal Group: Inquiring Sri Lankans’ Perceptions towards ‘Sri Lankan Migrants’

Author:

P. Jayawardena

University of Colombo, LK
About P.
Department of International Relations, Faculty of Arts
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Abstract

Sri Lankan emigrants are a heterogeneous community comprised by nearly three million different types of temporary and permanent migrants from refugees, domestic workers, irregular boar migrants, skilled migrants to students. However, Sri Lankans who are living in Sri Lanka do not know much about their emigrants’ lives, their migratory experiences or their diversity. The objective of this study is to explore the Sri Lankan society’s imagining of the Sri Lankan migrant and the factors that affect such imaginations. The data is collected through a range of methods such as observations, interviews with migrants and natives, and discourse analyses of debates, discussions and policy documents. Thematic analysis is used to analyse the data. The study reveals that Sri Lankan society has a contradictory dual approach in viewing their migrants: on one hand they view migrants positively - as a financial resource and on the other hand they view them negatively - as a group of disloyals. Non-migrant Sri Lankans have arrived into the latter assumption based on a nation-state premise. They consider a person’s physical residence of a territory as the marker of his or her loyalty. Referring to the transnational literature, I show that this is an outdated home country perspective through which migrants’ newer realities are not adequately captured. With the developments of migration laws, transportation and telecommunication, the conventional physical distance between migrants’ host and home lives has been radically reduced today. Thus, I highlight the need for the Sri Lankan society to view their migrants within a transnational frame, instead of the traditional nation-state frame they still use. Transnational framework would facilitate the Sri Lankan society to see migrants’ newer realities through updated lenses and consequently to establish a more meaningful relationship with them.
How to Cite: Jayawardena, P. (2022). A Financial Resource but a Disloyal Group: Inquiring Sri Lankans’ Perceptions towards ‘Sri Lankan Migrants’. Colombo Journal of Multi-disciplinary Research, 6(2), 47–74. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cjmr.v6i2.65
Published on 28 Mar 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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