Appointed As

College of Liberal Arts Career Services


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


University of Texas at Austin

PhD Field of Study

PhD Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Dissertation Abstract

“Strange(r) Maps: the cosmopolitan geopolitics of Sri Lankan tourism"

Concerned with the ongoing coloniality within the form and interactions of international relations, this project examines the legacy of colonial mapping practices on contemporary geopolitics. Specifically, I investigate Sri Lankan tourist maps as subversive examples of the politics of vision implicated within the historical formation of island-space under colonial mapping practices (i.e. Portuguese, Dutch, and British), and the contemporary political implications of the island geography as the state, including exclusionary identity politics during the civil war (1983-2009). Using a mix-analysis approach, including interviews, participatory mapping, and autoethnography, as well as feminist, postcolonial, and critical theoretical lenses, I argue that Sri Lankan tourist maps serve as examples of the historically developed and continued right to space, mobility, representation, and resources between the Global North and South in what I term “cosmopolitan geopolitics.” As geopolitics can be identified as the relationship between territories and resources, cosmopolitan geopolitics is concerned with the power relations when such elements as culture, authenticity, history, and religion are marked in places, people, and experiences as valued resources within the international tourist economy, particularly in this project which connects the colonial histories of mapping, travel, and international relations. In order to address the imperial, masculine politics of vision this project is separated into two parts: the first is concerned with the ontology and colonial legacy of the map (Chapters 1-3), the second with the politics of the map, including exclusionary politics of the nation state (Chapters 4-6). Chapter 1 investigates the politics of island space as represented on the tourist map, where the state serves as both a “treasure box” and “caged problem.” Chapter 2 argues that the cartoon images and icons serve as a resource map for contemporary geopolitics, and Chapter 3 indicates that this map simultaneously acts as an invitation to the cosmopolitan, with assumed access and hospitality. Examining the various ways that the exclusionary politics of the Sinhala-Buddhist state are implicated in the representations on the tourist map, Chapters 4-6 look at cultural tourist sites, natural or wildlife sites, and former war zones, respectively. Overall, this is an interdisciplinary examination between postcolonial studies, critical tourism studies, critical geography, and Sri Lankan studies that examines the continued politics of vision and access to space with both international and domestic political-economic implications.