During the Sri Lankan civil war (1983-2009), the LTTE had the project of transforming their recruits into fighters disciplined, loyal, and available to do everything their leader demanded to them. Through a fieldwork in Paris among former fighters (2008-2018), this talk analyzes how the fighters remembered their recruitment and their training which transformed them into fighters. Exploring the imposition of discipline, and the control over the body and the emotions of the recruits in the barracks, this talk seeks to understand how a revolutionary organization produces its fellow members and if and how these fighters internalize the organization’s project. Moreover, this talk provides a reflection on the social conditions which may influence the success or the failure of the non-state army in shaping the recruits.
Giacomo Mantovan is a researcher at the Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA) in Lisbon. After his PhD at the EHESS in Paris, he conducted research at Stanford University, the University of Edinburgh and at the International Institute for Asian Studies (Leiden). Through ethnographic fieldwork with the Tamil community in France and in northern Sri Lanka, he has studied the memory of the war and the construction of the self through militancy in the LTTE, life stories, and the experience of living in exile. His current project focuses on resistance and memory in the Tamil community in Jaffna (Sri Lanka).