A Tamil Asylum Diaspora: Sri Lankan Migration, Settlement and Politics in Switzerland

By Christopher McDowell | Go to book overview

2
Fieldwork and Research Methods

Entering the Field

F ieldwork was conducted between January 1992 and July 1994 during which time I lived in Zürich, and concentrated research among Tamil communities in the cantons of Zürich, Schwyz, Luzern, Aargau, St. Gallen and Bern. Research was conducted in four stages. The introductory stage, lasting about six months, was one of familiarisation during which I began to make contacts within the Tamil communities and Swiss federal and cantonal authorities engaged in asylum policy and practice. My first introduction to Tamil asylum seekers in Switzerland was arranged through the LTTE office in London which put me in touch with their regional organiser for Switzerland. Through the Swiss branch of the LTTE-affiliated World Tamil Co-Ordinating Committee (WTCC), I was invited to attend meetings and events organised by welfare, art, culture, sports and 'solidarity' groups that were openly supportive of the LTTE and based in all major cities and towns.

Whilst there are obvious drawbacks in making a political group the first point of fieldwork contact, the access it afforded to Tamil communities in Switzerland was invaluable. Later it will be shown that outside of such politically inspired events there are few occasions when large numbers of Tamils are gathered together. Cultural and sporting events regularly attracted many hundreds of participants from across the social and political spectrum, and a good many of those who attended were not sympathetic to the Tigers and were often ignorant of any LTTE involvement in the organisation of such events. Often the real significance of large-

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A Tamil Asylum Diaspora: Sri Lankan Migration, Settlement and Politics in Switzerland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contents vi
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • List of Abbreviations x
  • Glossary xi
  • Part One - Introduction and Research 1
  • 1 - Introduction -- Asylum Diaspora 3
  • 2 - Fieldwork and Research Methods 33
  • 3 - Swiss Public Opinion, Asylum Policy Reform and the Repatriation Agreement 46
  • Introduction 46
  • Conclusion 63
  • Part Two 67
  • 4 69
  • 5 - Sri Lanka 1983 to 1991 -- Conflict 94
  • Part Three - Tamil Asylum Entry into Switzerland 115
  • 6 - Switzerland's Tamil Asylum Migrant Population 117
  • Introduction 117
  • 7 - Early-Phase Asylum Migration 1983 to 1985 140
  • 8 - Middle-Phase Asylum Migration 1986 to 1988 170
  • Introduction 170
  • Summary 196
  • 9 - Late-Phase Asylum Migration 1989 to 1991 197
  • Introduction 197
  • Part Four - Diaspora Divisions, Formation and Politics 225
  • 10 - Immigrants and Asylum Seekers 227
  • Introduction 227
  • 11 - Politics in Exile: The Profits of Inertia 252
  • Introduction 252
  • Conclusion 265
  • Part Five 267
  • 12 - Conclusion 269
  • Bibliography 290
  • Index 303
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