Since the British period, the Up-country Tamils have lived at the margins of Sri Lankan society and politics, while being an integral part of the import-export economy that came to be established in the country. This conference will focus on the ways in which the Up-country Tamils continue to be marginalized, how far they have entered the mainstream and the difficulties that they have faced along the way. The present moment provides an opportune time for considering the role of the Up-country Tamils, and the interactions between majority and minority, and between margin and mainstream in contemporary Sri Lanka. Since the end of the war in May 2009, most political and academic debate and discussion about ethnic reconciliation have centered on a simplistic Sinhala-Tamil binary, ignoring other ethnic groups and the multiplicity of Tamil identities on the island.
This conference will bring together representatives from organizations working with Up-country Tamils, researchers on Up-country Tamils in Sri Lanka, including historians, economists, sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists, representatives from Central, Provincial and Local government, and representatives of the private sector and civil society organizations to approach opportunities and challenges facing this community from multiple disciplinary perspectives.