Accepted paper:

A love letter


Mihirini Sirisena (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Presented in the form of a letter, this work uses the twists and turns of a relationship of two informants to illustrate the course through which romantic relationships gain meaning in the lives of students at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Paper long abstract:

This letter tells the story of a young woman and a man I met during fieldwork I conducted with some university students in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2007/08. Here, Hiranthi - the author - writes a letter to her boyfriend of nine months Anish, interpreting the twists and turns of their relationship. She assesses the event that is her relationship in the context of the process of making of and expectations of 'serious relationships.' In her descriptions of making and expectations of 'serious relationships', I use the stories of those others I met during fieldwork, drawing from and pitting her story against these others. Using creative license to contextualise and interpret Hiranthi's and Anish's story, I use the letter to highlight that romantic relationships of my interlocutors are embedded within particular discourses about the normative conjugal unit, which is essentially heterosexual. It illustrates that romantic relationships consist of a process of investment, a way of embedding one's sense of self, the article highlights the relational aspect of self, pointing out that one's life's worthiness could be tied to the people who are around them.

panel P72
Anthropology of storytelling