Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa

Dr. Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa

Senior Scientist

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)

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Core research themes:
- Cultural histories and politics of seacoasts
- Speculative lives and afterlives of infrastructures
- Island and seascape imaginaries (from affective, sensory, and decolonial perspectives)
- Everyday sociality; the micropolitics of conviviality, conflict and co-operation
- Anthropology of architecture and urban design
- More-than-human geographies
- Visual ethnography

Current geographic focus:
Archipelagic urban Southeast Asia (Jakarta, Metro Manila & Singapore)
East Caribbean (Bonaire & Jamaica)
Laccadive Sea (Sri Lanka and the Maldives)

Past fieldwork:
Cornwall, UK (2007/8), Trincomalee, Sri Lanka (2011-2015), Singapore (2003-2004), Dili, Timor-Leste (2006); Penang, Malaysia (2017) ; Bonaire and Jamaica (1 month, 2018); Jakarta, Manila and Singapore (2016-ongoing).

PhD, Development Anthropology, summa (ZEF, University of Bonn, 2015)
MSc, Human Geography, first class (SoGE, University of Oxford, 2008)
BA, Enviromental Anthropology with a minor in Literature & Theatre Studies, 2:1 (National University of Singapore, 2004)

Persönliche Daten

I am an environmental anthropologist and a cultural geographer with interests that broadly lie at the crossroads of critical ocean studies, infrastructural futures, and urban political ecology.

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. Between October 2016 and December 2019, I scientifically co-ordinated the German Science Foundation/DFG funded research project EMERSA within the first phase of the SPP 1889 initiative - Regional Sea Level Change and Society initiative. I presently serve as 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 (Sustainability Research Center, University of Bremen).

My work is broadly inspired by diverse histories, ecologies, and cultural politics of seacoasts. In particular, questions around marine placemaking, sensemaking and everyday life continue to inspire me. My ongoing research (under BlueUrban) retains its focus on the ‘megacities’ of Jakarta, Metro Manila, and Singapore, and examines how dystopic and utopic visions for living with environmental change are co-shaping diverse speculative infrastructures and urban futures along coastlines in the decades to come.

Drawing from fieldwork financed by two small grant projects, I also continue to write on the politics of conviviality and invasive species governance in the east Caribbean (Dutch Antilles and Jamaica), and on local struggles around urban mangrove conservation and land use planning in South and Southeast Asia.

My recent monograph Fishing, Mobility and Settlerhood: Coastal Socialities in Postwar Sri Lanka (Springer, 2018) based on earlier PhD work, traces how everyday forms of maritime sociality - and of ethical being and doing - have transformed in the wake of the tsunami and civil war, particularly in ways that challenge scholarly assumptions on communal rivalry, resource competition, and collective action.

Apart from academia, I have previously served as an NGO researcher, project evaluator, and as a civil servant in diverse environmental and development-related organizations including the CGIAR-WorldFish Center Headquarters (Penang), the National Youth Council (Singapore), Beyond Social Services (Singapore), the IUCN (Colombo) and the UNFCCC Secretariat (Bonn), among others.


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

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


Articles (peer-reviewed)

Siriwardane-de Zoysa, R., Sondang, I.F., 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, A-K. (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, A-K., 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, Rapti. 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, I.S. and Herbeck, J. (2018) Watery Incursions: The Securitisation 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, A-K. (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, E.H.,  Nayak, P., Badjeck, M-C. (2014) Small-scale fisheries through the wellbeing lens. Fish and Fisheries, 15 (2): 255-279.


Book chapters

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, forthcoming.

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.


Essays, book reviews, working papers & policy briefs


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) Depoliticised 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) "Reis Mafia" in Colombo: Wahlkampf um das Präsidentenamt. Südasien, 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.
Advisors: 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, Honours thesis, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore.  Advisor: Prof. Stephanie K. Rupp (CUNY)