Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa

Dr. Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa

Senior Scientist

Ehemalige Arbeitsgruppen: AG Entwicklungs- und Wissenssoziologie

Tel.: +49 (0)421 23800 - 174

Fax: +49 (0)421 23800 - 30

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Büro: Wiener Str. 7
28359 Bremen
Raum: 5201 (2. Etage)


Core research strands:
- Cultural histories and politics of seacoasts
- Decolonial island relations
- Speculative social lives/afterlives of infrastructures
- More-than-human socialities
- Anthropology of architecture and design
- Visual ethnography

Geographic foci:
Island South and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Sri Lanka)
East Caribbean (Bonaire & Jamaica)

Past fieldwork:
Singapore (2003-2004), Cornwall; UK (2007/8); Dili, Timor-Leste (2006); Trincomalee, Sri Lanka (2011-2015), Penang, Malaysia (2017) ; Bonaire and Jamaica (2018); Jakarta, Manila and Singapore (2016-2023)

DPhil, Environmental Anthropology, summa cum laude (ZEF, University of Bonn, 2015)
MSc, Human Geography / Environmental Policy, first class (SoGE, University of Oxford, 2008)
BA, Social Anthropology (Honours specialisation), with a minor in Literature & Theater Studies, 2:1 (Dept. of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 2004)

personal data

I'm an environmental anthropologist and cultural geographer, with a formative background in literature and theater studies. Much of my work lies at the intersection of political ecology, critical ocean and urban studies. 

I joined ZMT's Development and Knowledge Sociology working group in June 2015, and was an adjunct lecturer with the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Studies as well as the Institute for Sociology (IFS) at the University of Bremen until January 2020. 

I presently serve as co-principal investigator of the second phase SPP 1889 project 'Towards Blue Urbanism for Sea Level Change Adaptation: Global Trajectories and Speculative Futuring in Island Southeast Asia' ( BlueUrban ) together with Dr. Johannes Herbeck (artec Sustainability Research Center, University of Bremen).

Prior to academia, I've had a background in international development serving at the CGIAR-WorldFish HQ (Penang), the Alola Foundation (Timor-Leste), the National Youth Council (Singapore), and the UNFCCC Secretariat (Bonn), among others. 


Amoo-Adare, E. and R. Siriwardane-de Zoysa (eds.). An Anthology of Non-Conformism: Rebel Wom!n Words, Ways and Wonders , New York: DIO Press. (forthcoming). 

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., KEY Low, N. Abdullah, AK Hornidge (eds.) (2022)  Coastal Urbanities: Mobilities, Meanings, Maneuverrings . Leiden: Brill. 

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. (2018) Fishing, Mobility and Settlerhood: Coastal Socialities in Postwar Sri Lanka , Cham: Springer.


Journal articles 

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., V. Sreekanta, V., D. Mwambari, S. Mehta, and M. Majumder.  (2023) The Unruly Arts of Ethnographic Refusal: Power, Politics, Performativity, in FENNIA: International Journal of Geography (forthcoming). 

Godamunne V, Abdeen AJ, Siriwardane-de Zoysa R (2022). Shored curfews: Constructions of pandemic islandness in contemporary Sri Lanka. Maritime Studies https://doi.org/10.1007/s40152-022-00262-5  

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., Sondang, IF, and Ganda Purnama, A. (2021). Opto-Haptic Fieldwork Encounters in Pandemic Southeast Asia. Fieldsights , Members' Voices. Available online: https://culanth.org/fieldsights/opto-haptic-fieldwork-encounters-in-pandemic-southeast-asia .

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., Schöne T, Herbeck, J., Illigner, J., Haghighi, M., Simarmata, H., Porio, E., Rovere, A., and Hornidge, AK. (2021). The 'wickedness' of governing land subsidence: Policy perspectives from urban Southeast Asia. PLOS ONE , https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0250208 .

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. 2021. Decolonizing Seascapes: Imaginaries and Absences on an Island Hub. Postcolonial Interventions VI(I), https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4483976

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. & Herbeck, J. (2020). Futuring 'Blue Urbanisms': Pluralising the Littoral in Urban Southeast Asia, International Sociological Association E-symposium. Available online: https://esymposium.isaportal.org/resources/resource/futuring-blue-urbanisms/ 

Hornidge AK, Herbeck J; Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. and Flitner, M. (2020). Epistemic Mobilities: Following Sea-Level Change Adaptation Practices in Southeast Asian Cities, American Behavioral Scientist , DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764220947764

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. Beyond the Wall: Dyking as an object of everyday governance in the Bay of Manila . Marine Policy , Vol. 112, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103661

Viana Inés G, Siriwardane-de Zoysa R, Willette Demian A, Gillis Lucy G (2019.) Exploring how non-native seagrass species could provide essential ecosystems services: a perspective on the highly invasive seagrass Halophila stipulacea in the Caribbean Sea, Biological Invasions , DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-019-01924-y

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., Fitrinitia, IS and Herbeck, J. (2018) Watery Incursions : The Securitization of Everyday 'Flood Cultures' in Metro Manila and Coastal Jakarta, International Quarterly for Asian Studies , Vol 49 (1-2) : 105-126.

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. and Hornidge, AK. (2016) Putting Lifeworlds at Sea: Studying Meaning-making in Marine Research, Frontiers in Marine Science 8, DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2016.00197

Weeratunge N, Béné C, Siriwardane R, Charles A, Johnson D, Allison EH, Nayak P, Badjeck MC. (2014) Small-scale fisheries through the wellbeing lens . Fish and Fisheries , 15(2):255-279.


Book chapters

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. (forthcoming) Following currents: Oceanic and littoral Sri Lanka. in Ruwanpura et al. (eds). Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Sri Lanka , London: Routledge. 

Simarmata, HA, Rafliana I, Herbeck H, Siriwardane-de Zoysa R. (2023). Futuring 'Nusantara': Detangling Indonesia's Modernist Archipelagic Imaginaries . in S. Partelow et al. (eds). Ocean Governance: Pasts, Presents, Futures . Cham: Springer.

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. and AK Hornidge (2022) Tidal Turns: Coastal Urbanities in Island Southest Asia , in Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., KEY Low, N. Abdullah and AK Hornidge (eds), Coastal Urbanities, Leiden: Brill. 

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. and Salleh, J. (2022) Sanded: Sedimented Pasts and Shored Futures in ´Outer´ Singapore , in Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., KEY Low, N. Abdullah and AK Hornidge (eds), Coastal Urbanities, Leiden: Brill. 

Herbeck, J., Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. (2022). Transformations of Urban Coastal Nature(s): Meanings and Paradoxes of Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Adaptation in Southeast Asia . In: Misiune, I., Depellegrin, D., Egarter Vigl, L. (eds) Human-Nature Interactions . Cham: Knight. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-01980-7_6

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. (2022) Islanded Hauntings: Sri Lanka's Seascape Imaginaries and Mythico-histories of the Insular. in S. Dey and A. Nirmal. (eds). Histories, Myths and Decolonial Interventions: A Planetary Resistance ,  London/Delhi: Routledge.  

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R. and Amoo-Adare, E. (2021) The Bi-polar Waterfront: Paradoxes of Shoreline Placemaking in Contemporary Accra and Colombo, In: P. Godfrey and M. Buchanan, eds. Global [Im]-Possibilities: Exploring the Paradoxes of Just Sustainabilities , London: Bloomsbury.

Schulz, Karsten and Siriwardane, Rapti (2016) The Risk Frontier: Social Transformations in Rural and Peri-urban Ghana , in Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability in Rural West Africa , In: J. Yaro and J. Hesselberg (Eds.), Berlin: Springer, pp. 171-189.


Visual exhibitions organised:

With J. Herbeck, "Storying Sea Level Change in Land Southeast Asia", Ci:Kini Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia (September 2018)
With J. Herbeck, " Contested Coastal Worlds - Care and Conviviality in Coastal Life ", Haus der Wissenschaft, Bremen, Germany (November 2022 - February 2023)
(in partnership with Mangrove Maniacs, Bonaire; Dakshin Foundation, India; Mingas por el Mare , Ecuador; Bremen Dyke Association, DE; and Mercy Corps, Indonesia)


Essays, book reviews, working papers & policy briefs

Sridhar A, Jalais A, Siriwardane-de Zoysa R, Anantha S (2022) The Indian Ocean Southern Collective: A Collaboratory for Postnormal Coastal Knowledge Production. Items: Insights from the Social Sciences . Available online:  https://items.ssrc.org/crisis-and-collaboration-across-the-indian-ocean/the-indian-ocean-southern-collective/

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., Sondang, IF, and Ganda Purnama, A. (2021). Opto-Haptic Fieldwork Encounters in Pandemic Southeast Asia. Fieldsights , Members' Voices. Available online: https://culanth.org/fieldsights/opto-haptic-fieldwork-encounters-in-pandemic-southeast-asia .

Book review for Anthropos 115: 20 ) : King, Tanya J., and Gary Robinson (eds.): At Home on the Waves. Human Habitation of the Sea from the Mesolithic to Today. New York: Berghahn Books, 2019. 372 pp. ISBN 978-1-78920-142-0. (Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology, 24)
(June, 2021).

Godamunne, V. and Siriwardane-de Zoysa R. (2021). Between jab lines and pandemic orientalism in urban Sri Lanka, UCL Medical Anthropology blogs, https://medanthucl.com/2021/03/16/between-jab-lines-and-pandemic-orientalism-in-urban-sri-lanka/

Perrin, Sam and Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa (2017) Women in marine science: The efficacy of ecofeminist theory in the wake of historical critique, ZMT Working Paper no. 3, Bremen.

Schulz, K. and Siriwardane, R. (2015) Depoliticized and Technocratic? Normativity and the Politics of Transformative Adaptation. Earth System Governance Working Paper No. 33, Lund and Amsterdam.

Weerawardhana, C. and R. Siriwardane (2015) "Rice Mafia" in Colombo: Presidential campaign. South Asia , 35(1), 91-97.

Siriwardane, R. (2014) War, Migration and Modernity: The Micro-politics of the Hijab in Northeastern Sri Lanka. ZEF Working Paper No. 127, Bonn.

Siriwardane, R. and Winands, S. (2013) Between hope and hype: Traditional knowledge(s) held by marginal communities. ZEF Working Paper No. 115, Bonn.



Siriwardane, Rapti (2015) 'Sambandam': Cooperation, Contestation and Coastal Lifeworlds in Postwar Sri Lanka, PhD dissertation, University of Bonn (summa cum laude), Center for Development Research/ZEF, University of Bonnn
Advisors: Prof. Conrad Schetter (University of Bonn) & Prof. Aram Ziai (University of Kassel), Tutor: Katja Mielke (BICC, Bonn)

Siriwardane, Rapti (2008) Utopias of Process: Re-envisioning Gendered Subjectivities among Eco-settlements in Southwest England, Masters thesis, School of Geography and the Environment/SoGE, University of Oxford.
Advisor: Dr. Jaime Lorimer (Oxford) & Prof Andrew Barry (KCL)

Siriwardane, Rapti (2004) Shifting Terrains: Negotiating Boundaries between the 'Natural' and its Contrived in Urban Ecological Narratives in Singapore, Honors thesis, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. Advisor: Prof. Stephanie K. Rupp (CUNY)