Sharry Aiken

Sharry Aiken is an associate professor in the faculty of law at Queen's University. She is the editor in chief of Refuge, Canada's Periodical on Refugees and is a past president of the Canadian Council for Refugees. Her current research interests include refugee law and its intersection with the national security agenda post 9/11 as well as minority rights. In 2007 she was awarded a SSHRC standard research grant for her project, Refugee Diasporas,“Homeland” Conflicts and the Impact of the Post-9/11 Security Paradigm. She has been a visiting lecturer at both the Hebrew University and the American University in Cairo, where she has taught courses on International Refugee Law. Formative experiences in Sharry's earlier career include three years working with Canada World Youth in Pakistan, Indonesia and Uruguay (as well as various communities in Canada) and a year living in a cabin outside of Sioux Lookout, Ontario while serving as director of pilot project on legal literacy.

"Anil's Ghost was on the best seller's list in Canada for almost a year and received several prestigious literary prizes, among them the Governor-General's award, the Giller and the Prix Medicis (France). Nevertheless, a significant number of critics, primarily but not exclusively members of Sri Lanka's diasporic communities, condemned the novel for its irresponsible, apolitical gaze as well as for its orientalism, lack of historical and geographical specificity and blatant racism. Set in Sri Lanka between 1989 and 1992/93, the novel opens as Anil Tissera, a forensic anthropologist returns to her native country to investigate possible human rights violations. Despite its laudable universalist aspirations, the novel purports to be a story about Sri Lanka set in Sri Lanka. Yet after more than 300 pages, the reader learns very little about the country's recent history, the antecedents or current causes of the human rights violations its pivotal character seeks to uncover. With reference to the recent "end" of Sri Lanka's civil war, my talk will present a variegated analysis of Anil's Ghost - a book that afforded me an important measure of my own evolution in the dualist/dueling roles of scholar and activist."