IR Seminar-Kanchana N. Ruwanpura

Author: CASE
Time: 17:15
Location: CASE 127




MONDAY, November 12, 2018

CASE 127   -17:15

Name: Kanchana N. Ruwanpura - The University of Edinburgh  

Title: Over Development”?  The political, economic and environmental costs of Sri Lanka's Post-War Development Vision

Place: CASE 127 -17:15


The response of Sri Lanka’s political class to three decades of war was one of roads and infrastructure development to address the political and ethnic grievances of the country’s polity.  The infrastructure boom that gripped post-war Sri Lanka to forge a national identity and connect various regions of the country has culminated in the Port City of Colombo, which is part of China's OBOR initiative and the poster child for Sri Lanka's political class.  However, against the IPCC report released in early October 2018, which sent a stark warning of the need for radical changes to cut risks associated with climate change, including to sea level rise, extreme heat, floods, drought and poverty, we can ask whether this hyped-up vision may be turn out to be an ecological disaster?  Sri Lanka local communities and civil society groups are wary of the unfolding Port City project, where land is being reclaimed from the Indian Ocean. Port City is one of post-war Sri Lanka's mega-infrastructure development plans to make the city of Colombo a regional hub for high end investors. However, with the massive debts, which it has accrued over the past years, one of our respondents said that post-war Sri Lanka has embraced ‘over development’ without any consideration for the ecological and debt costs to local communities.  In our view, the new vision for the Port City neglects the complex vulnerabilities of the ecological concerns and limit citizens’ political agency to satisfy the demands of foreign creditors thus disconnecting communities across the ethnic, political and class spectrum.  

Bio: Kanchana N. Ruwanpura is a Reader in Development Geography and one of two Directors at the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS) at the University of Edinburgh.  Since completing her PhD at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, she has worked at University of Southampton, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, University of Munich, and the International Labour Office.  Her research explores the intersection between feminism, ethnicity, labour and increasingly on the intersection between the environment and infrastructure.  She is the author of a research monograph published by the University of Michigan Press/Zubaan Books, a couple of edited volumes, and several peer reviewed journal articles. Ruwanpura, Brown and Chan are all from the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh.  They are a team consisting of a Reader in Development Geography, Research Assistant and a Doctoral Student, all from the Institute of Geography, who work together on exposing social injustices linked to hyped up development narratives.