Ethnonationalist politics is fundamentally a “national” phenomenon. The denial of this “national” scale, however political and ideological it may be, is also the denial of the existence of ethnonationalist politics. Yet, ethnonationalist politics, like any other form of politics, is subject to a basic ground rule that the world is not an isotropic surface but a more and more differentiated one: in particular with the new economy and the “new” competitiveness.
The world is constituted of numerous like and different but unique places. The uniqueness of places gives different meanings to ethnonationalist politics, thus making it essentially a geographical phenomenon. This is not an argument to reduce ethnonationalist politics to a collection of individual place politics. Ethnonationalist politics is more than the sum of places where ethnonationalist politics is found.
However, the admission that ethnonationalist politics is national in scale should not be confused with the nationalist ideology that denies all other levels at which nationalist politics is practised. Understandably this confusion itself has been a deliberate strategy of ethnonationalists. Unfortunately, though, the majority of the students of ethnonationalism have not made an effort to resolve this confusion, therefore letting themselves become nationalists.
This relates to the other objective of this research which is to sort out this confusion by providing contrary empirical examples from Sri Lanka. Tamil nationalists have made every attempt to create Tamil ethnonationalist politics as a monolith by negating the internal variations arising from many factors including the place specificity. The students of Tamil nationalism have helped to enhance this view. However, the ground realities suggest that Tamil nationalism has not only been place specific , but has also been contested throughout its history. By tracing the local history of Batticaloa, a locale in the Tamil region, I have tried to demonstrate that Tamil ethnonationalist politics is indeed contestatory on the one hand and place specific on the other. The Sinhalese-Buddhist ethnonationalists have also projected their ethnonationalism in monolithic terms. By highlighting the local ethnonationalist politics in a Sinhalese village, I have attempted to demonstrate that some of the claims made on behalf of the Sinhalese-Buddhist ethnonationalism are not valid for all places.