Sharika Thiranagama explores the intersection of political mobilization and domestic life. Her work focuses on highly fraught contexts of violence, inequality, and intense political mobilization, attempting to understand (rather than romanticize) patterns of sociality and how people actually live together, often in highly fractious and unequal ways, and, to situate these processes in specific historical formations of “privates” and “publics” in South Asia.
Her fieldwork in Sri Lanka on war and political violence, demonstrates how gendered and generational relations structured the experience of civil war. It explores the ways in which militancy, political violence and large-scale displacement became folded into intergenerational transmissions of memory and ethnic identification, arguing that the most profound effects of war and violence could only be understood through their impact on intimate and domestic life.
Since 2014, Sharika Thiranagama has also carried out new work in Kerala, South India including 10-11 months (June 2015-2016) of fieldwork in the rural Palakkad district, funded by I National Science Foundation and the Wenner Gren Foundation. This work centers on agricultural laborers from Dalit (formerly untouchable caste) communities in Kerala, South India. It examines how communist led political mobilization both transformed every day and political mobilization as well as reconfiguring older caste identities, re-entrenching caste inequities into new kinds of private neighborhood life. This work also takes the household as the prime site of the inheritance of work, stigma and servitude as well as the possibility of reproduction, dignity and social mobility. In addition, this new research explores comparative enslavement and the long legacies of the entwinement of caste and enslavement in Kerala.