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Title: Women's health as state strategy : Sri Lanka's twentieth century
Author: Thoradeniya, Darshi Nayanathara
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 2859
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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Sri Lanka gained prominence in international policy circles as an apparent 'success story' first as a model colony in early 1950s and later as a development model for South Asia by 1970s. In naming Sri Lankan 'success story' experts pointed to the decreasing population growth rate and decreasing mortality. Renowned demographers attributed this to the improvements in the field of social indicators such as high literacy rates, increased life expectancy and rise in female age at marriage. In this 'success story' women's health serves as a linchpin to the attainment of national progress. But a focus on women's health – as statistics and indicators – has also served to silence questions about Sri Lankan women's broader experiences of their disaggregated health. In particular, while Sri Lankan 'women's health' served the Sri Lankan state's 'success story' well, what is less clear is how women's individual bodies have fared within subsequent tellings of its other twentieth century Sri Lankan stories of late colonial, national, developmental, neoliberal and militarised phases. My thesis examines this question through a critical examination of women's health history of this island nation. I trace its history from initial birth control, family planning (1953) to development population control to militarisation, financialisation of women's bodies and ends with a critical examination of recent policies that claim to emancipate women's health 'beyond' a myopic focus on their role as reproducer. Although women's health was vigilantly 'controlled' and 'planned' for the state building project and women's bodies were framed around the notion of social reproduction for the nation building project of post independent Sri Lanka, women were neither subjects nor objects of these two projects. Women's reproductive bodies were, rather, the ground for a complex and competing set of struggles on population, family planning, development, modernisation and ethno nationalism of post independent Sri Lanka. Further women's health/women's bodies analysis helps to elucidate the manner in which we can track the operation of power that serves to silence women's own corporeal subjectivity and to delimit the realms in which she can exercise her own agency.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Wellcome Trust ; University of Warwick ; Royal Historical Society
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DS Asia ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman