‘You Make Our Lives Better’: Education and the Detention of Tamil Refugee Children

  • Gillian Geetha PhilipupillaiEmail author
Part of the Explorations of Educational Purpose book series (EXEP, volume 27)


In this chapter, I examine the role of education and educators in the detention of Tamil refugee children who arrived on Canadian shores aboard the MV Sun Sea in August 2010. Through an analysis of the ongoing marking of Tamil youth – even children – as always already ‘terrorists,’ I attempt to draw attention to education as a key site of racial management in the political landscape of counter-terrorism. I examine how the racialization of Tamils, especially Tamil refugees, youth and children functions in education, public images and discourses linking ‘Tamilness’ to ‘terror’ and evicting Tamils from the notion of belonging to the ‘public.’ I argue that the case of the MV Sun Sea demonstrates that the targeting, detention, and monitoring of Tamil youth and children in the white settler state is integral to the project of white settler colonialism and its reliance upon education for racial management. The role of educators in the illegal detention of Tamil children is representative of the increasing significance accorded to education in ‘counter-terrorism,’ indicating the necessity of anti-racist intervention. I argue that the possibility of an anti-racism response is first grounded in the anti-colonial commitments of anti-racism educators.


Indigenous People Asylum Seeker White Supremacy Settler Colonialism White Settler 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ontario Institute for Studies In Education (OISE)University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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