Senior Award Winner
Erin M. Runions
This thesis articulates how the divine possession of women in Sri Lanka enacts resistance against the imposition of colonial rule and nationalist politics. Women’s lives are implicated in active histories of violence, spanning from the brutality of colonial rule to the continued forms of violent regulation inherent to Sri Lanka’s multi-decade conflict. My work aims to show how divine possession, through a subversion of ritual hierarchies both within the space of ritual and outside of it, counters the hegemony of empire. To do this, I look to how divine possession inhabits bodies previously consumed by colonial rule and nationalist ideology, contests spaces that exist on the margins of political control, and relies upon subversive religious practice that open up knowledge and power against the formations of the state.
Dure, Olivia, "Divine Embodiment and Women’s Resistance in Sri Lanka: Opposing the Ideologies of Nation and Empire" (2017). 2017 Claremont Colleges Library Undergraduate Research Award. 6.