Macquarie University
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Constructing commongrounds: everyday lifeworlds beyond politicised ethnicities in Sri Lanka

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posted on 2022-03-28, 19:29 authored by Anton Piyarathne Deegalla Durage
Inspired by both the existential anthropology of Michael Jackson and by Bourdieu's discussion of habitus, in this thesis I research the lifeworlds of people in Sri Lankan in order to uncover inter-ethnic collaborations in human relationships/inter-connections that sit uneasily within the broader ethno-political mobilisations that continuously divide people. Partially motivated by reflecting upon on my own embodied subjectivity and intersubjective practices, the thesis discusses people's everyday lived reality, including the strategies they employ to live their social lives within an ethnically divided society. I address this phenomenon using the term "commongrounds", an existential capacity that people inherit and that they draw upon to shape their social lives. Appropriately the term also applies to my use of the work of Jackson and Bourdieu, in which I discern theoretical commongrounds that are usually overlooked. This thesis identifies commongrounds in four different social spaces, in a middle-class suburb in Colombo, in one of that city's many shanty towns, in a Muslim-dominated town on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka and in a caste-organized rural area in Pānama. It analyses how members of ostensibly rival ethnic or religious groups create commongrounds that make ethnic boundaries porous and transgressable. It reveals that commongrounds are not static but shift with the dynamics of social interaction, as actors affirm resemblances between ethnic others that political parties and scholarly work alike deny.



"April 2014 A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" Bibliography:pages 207-233

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jaap Timmer

Additional Supervisor 1

Chris Houston


Copyright Deegalla Durage Anton Piyarathne 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




Sri Lanka


1 online resource (ix, 233 pages) illustrations, graphs, charts

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