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Embracing Liminality: Grappling with the Challenges and Opportunities of Practicing Memorialization in Sri Lanka


In this Article, I will share lessons learned from the Sri Lankan civil society experience of “practicing” memorialization before and after the institutionalization of an official transitional justice framework. This Article is not a detailed analysis of the contextual challenges of implementing a transitional justice framework in Sri Lanka, nor is it an exploration of the transitional justice mechanism, its successes and failures, or its relationship to human rights, reconciliation, peacebuilding, or governance in Sri Lanka. It is also not an exploration of the complexities and challenges of understanding the distinction between “memory initiatives” versus “memorialization” itself, which has complicated and contested meanings depending on, amongst other considerations, the purposes, motives, sequencing, processes, and ownership of those processes. Rather, this paper presents a practitioner’s perspective, critically engaging with the experiences and lessons learned through the implementation of the Herstories Project and the Community Memorialisation Project, to examine some of the conceptual and practical questions that I continue to grapple with in the field of memorialization in Sri Lanka.