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Transnational feminisms: shame, suffering, and moral personhood in Sri Lanka

Title
Transnational feminisms: shame, suffering, and moral personhood in Sri Lanka
Speaker(s)
Speaker: Asha Abeyasekera # University of Colombo
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
22nd Oct 2020 16:00 - 22nd Oct 2020 17:30
Location
Via Zoom
URL
http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/events/seminar_series/2020_2021/transnational_feminisms_shame,_suffering,_and_moral_personhood_in_sri_lanka

Transnational feminisms: shame, suffering, and moral personhood in Sri Lanka

Drawing from narratives of three women with different life experiences—singleness, divorce, and a suicide-like act—this paper intends to explore the gendered implications the cultural emotion of læja-baya has on how women narrate life-events and histories. Glossed as shame and fear of social disapproval, læja-baya is a complex social emotion that embodies sentiments related to loss of face, self-esteem, status, and family honor, and compels women to disavow and obfuscate agency through repertoires of suffering and self-sacrifice. These accounts offer insights into how the moral person is constructed in Sri Lanka and, particularly, what it means to be a good daughter and a good woman. The paper intends to reflect on the implications that radically different conceptions of the self and personhood have for construing mental health and wellbeing outside a Western psychological framework, and for shaping feminisms in different locales.

Asha L. Abeyasekera is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo. She coordinates the MA in Gender and Women’s Studies.  Her research interests are at the intersection of social and psychological anthropology focusing on gender, intimate relations, and subjectivities, in contemporary South Asia.  Her research also investigates dynamic interplay among culture, emotional practices, and mental health and wellbeing. She is the author of Making the Right Choice: Narratives of Marriage in Sri Lanka (2021, Rutgers).

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