Sri Lanka inside-out: Cyberspace and the mediated geographies of political engagement

Save for the treatment of Tamilnet in Mark Whitaker’s book on Sivaram, I know of no other Sri Lankan website other than Groundviews that has inspired rigorous academic study. From as early as 2007, content on Groundviews has been studied and quoted in academic journals, books and media reports. Today I was forwarded Sri Lanka inside-out: Cyberspace and the mediated geographies of political engagement, the most recent serious consideration of  the site’s content. I know of two other post-grad students – at Fletcher and Columbia – who are basing their thesis in large part on Groundviews’ content and raison d’être. It is a fascinating paper.

This research note begins by pointing to the forms of geographical and political enclosure that have resulted from the current Sri Lankan government’s effective regulation of parts of the national media, as well as its mediation of knowledge produced about Sri Lanka more generally. It argues that a rather draconian and unbreachable geography of inside and outside is instantiated by the political regime’s insularizing regulation of the country’s media(tion). The research note then points to new virtual spaces in the Sri Lankan context that are reconfiguring this sticky geography of inside and outside. In particular, it argues that Sri Lanka’s burgeoning blogosphere and online citizen journalism provide new, participatory spaces for dissent, debate and the free flow of information that have much potential to assist in the production of a more robust and critical civil society. The emergence of these spaces points to the importance of geography and spatiality in manufacturing an effective critical politics in contemporary Sri Lanka.

Other recent serious reviews of the site’s content include:

Mention in books include,

Recent mention in global media reports include,

I was told last week by a senior journalist that Groundviews was first looked upon as a platform to publish stories newspapers would or could not. It then had turned into a source itself, and a location for good leads and story ideas. Now, I was told, it shows mainstream media what journalism should be.

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