“Doing-Ethnicity” – Tamil Educational Organisations as Border-crossing Actors

Author Name

Thusinta Somalingam


Ethnicity, Tamil Educational Organisations


Phenomena of transnational nature are discussed almost daily in economic and social policy, but the formation of educational spaces due to migration processes are rarely in the focus of science or even the public. This project is in less researched and discussed area of transnational education spaces with a focus on the Diaspora of Sri Lankan Tamils. Here, transnational education spaces are characterized as cross-border educational processes of mobile people, their learning processes and their acquisition of skills and certificates in transnational social spaces and as mental maps. A large number of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora members are characterized through Diaspora nationalism and strong transnational activities. The activities in the inner Tamil education are one aspect of this larger picture. The presentation focuses on Tamil schools abroad that are part of the Tamil Education Development Council, and on their construction of ethno-national belongings. By presenting the TEDC geographical, contextual and organizational structures, the presentation explains how education organizations form a transnational space where the organizations reinforce and recreate ethno-national orientations and belongings, which in turn reconstructs the Tamil diaspora itself through processes of standardization and homogenization. For the research, several Survey methods like participant observations in Tamil schools in Germany and Canada, Document analysis of school books and interviews with institutional players were used.


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