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Polygence Scholar2022
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Karishmma Suntheresen

Lake Washington High SchoolClass of 2022Kirkland, Washington



  • "The Aftermath of War: Explaining Racism in Sri Lanka" with mentor Christina (Feb. 26, 2022)

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The Aftermath of War: Explaining Racism in Sri Lanka

Started Sept. 29, 2021

Abstract or project description

When Sri Lanka became an independent country in 1948 after centuries of colonization, the people did not realize more violence would follow. When the British colonized Sri Lanka, they put the native Tamil people in higher places of power since they knew the Tamil culture and language better than that of the Sinhalese. This sparked a surge in Sinhalese nationalism, followed by the thirty-year Sri Lankan Civil War. Even before the British arrived there were racial tensions between the Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese. Ancient texts show evidence that the Sinhalese thought of the Tamils as “aliens” and “invaders.” However, both ethnic groups' roots are from the same family and land. Therefore, I ask why the tensions between them are so high? In answering this question, I also analyze racism’s elaborate history in the country. Starting from the ancient tribes to now. I answer my main question through analytical historical tracing and a public opinion survey of Sri Lankan citizens and diaspora. I hypothesize that nationalism in both groups likely plays a large role in the racial divide. Nationalism causes the Sinhalese to prioritize themselves while Tamils lose basic human and civil rights like education, opportunities, and resources. The racial divide lacks attention and interest from those outside Sri Lanka, including Sri Lankan immigrants. Despite the civil war ending thirteen years ago, the effects of the war, including racism, still exist. Without a withstanding resolution, more than 100,000 lives were lost without a change in the divide or lack of rights.