Reconstructing Tamil Masculinities: Kāvaṭi and Viratam among Sri Lankan Men in Montreal

Type of resource
Author/collaborator
Title
Reconstructing Tamil Masculinities: Kāvaṭi and Viratam among Sri Lankan Men in Montreal
Abstract
The author examines masculinity in Montreal's Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora through two ritual practices, kāvaṭi and viratam. She argues that these practices are expressions of masculine identity and articulations of anxiety rooted in the refugee experience. Kāvaṭi, a ritual piercing and ecstatic dance, and viratam, a rigorous fast, reconstruct masculinities fragmented by expatriation and the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The author explains that through ritual performance, men fashion themselves as the selfless heroes of traditional Tamil literature without negating their fluency as modern Tamil-Canadians. By voicing rupture and enacting reprieve, the men who perform these rites incur individual catharsis. New non-Brahmin masculine identities that draw their authority from renunciation and asceticism as opposed to social privilege emerge in this diasporic context. Employing analyses of literature, political propaganda, and ethnography, the author demonstrates the powerful relationship between ritual performance and masculine identity. In kāvaṭi and viratam, the male body becomes the site of contested personal, political, and religious narratives.
Type
Master's Thesis
University
McGill University
Place
Montreal
Date
2008
Language
en
URL
Citation
Gross, Victoria. “Reconstructing Tamil Masculinities: Kāvaṭi and Viratam among Sri Lankan Men in Montreal.” Master’s Thesis, McGill University, 2008. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/thesescanada/vol2/QMM/TC-QMM-116131.pdf.
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