I'm a marine anthropologist and a cultural geographer, with formative training in sociology, comparative literature, and theatre studies (National University of Singapore), an MSc in environmental politics (University of Oxford, SoGE), and a DPhil in development anthropology (University of Bonn, ZEF). My ethnographic practice often strives to integrate crosscurrents in the environmental humanities and the interpretive social sciences.
I joined ZMT´s Development and Knowledge Sociology working group in June 2015, and was an adjunct lecturer with the Institute for Sociology and the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Bremen until January 2020. Between October 2016 and December 2019, I scientifically coordinated 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 co-lead 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 socio-environmental change intermix in shaping varied futures of these coastal cities in 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 west Malaysia. A 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 previously served as an NGO researcher, project officer and evaluator in a number of environmental and development-related organizations spanning civil service and the third sector. These include 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.
Hornidge, Anna-Katharina; Herbeck, Johannes; Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Rapti and Flitner, Michael (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, Rapti, 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, Rapti, Irene S. Fitrinitia and Johannes Herbeck (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, Rapti and Anna-Katharina Hornidge (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, Nireka, Chris Béné, Rapti Siriwardane, Anthony Charles, Derek Johnson, Edward H. Allison, Prateep Nayak, Marie-Caroline Badjeck (2014) Small-scale fisheries through the wellbeing lens. Fish and Fisheries, 15 (2): 255-279.
Monographs & book chapters
Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Rapti and Epifania Amoo-Adare. 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.
Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Rapti. Decolonizing Seascapes: Imaginaries and Absences on an Island Hub, In: Nirmal, Arti and Dey, Sayan (eds). Myth History and Postcolonial Consciousness: Politics of Theory and Praxis. New Delhi: Routledge, forthcoming.
Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Rapti (2018) Fishing, Mobility and Settlerhood: Coastal Socialities in Postwar Sri Lanka, Cham: Springer.
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.
Forthcoming edited volumes
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.
Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Rapti; Hornidge, Anna-Katharina; Low, Kelvin E.Y., Abdullah, Noorman (eds.). Coastal Urbanities in Translation: Mobilities, Meanings, Manoeuvrings, Leiden/Singapore: Brill.
Working papers and policy briefs
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, Karsten and Rapti Siriwardane (2015) Depoliticised and Technocratic? Normativity and the Politics of Transformative Adaptation. Earth System Governance Working Paper No. 33, Lund and Amsterdam.
Weerawardhana, Chaminda and Rapti Siriwardane (2015) "Reis Mafia" in Colombo: Wahlkampf um das Präsidentenamt. Südasien, 35 (1), 91-97.
Siriwardane, Rapti (2014) War, Migration and Modernity: The Micro-politics of the Hijab in Northeastern Sri Lanka. ZEF Working Paper No. 127, Bonn.
Siriwardane, Rapti and Sarah Winands (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)