The first wave of Tamil refugees began in 1983 when the civil war ensued between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil militant group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Exasperated by the ethnic persecution of the Tamilians by the Sinhalese, often backed by the State support, LTTE deployed an armed struggle to create an independent state for the Tamilians. However, blinded by their obsession to secure their hegemony, both LTTE and the State subjected themselves to the massacre of several innocent civilians. Finally, after 26 years of bloodshed, destruction and chaos, the Sri Lankan government defeated LTTE in May 2009. However, by that time, it has left 80,000–100,000 dead, over 300,000 internally displaced and over 145,000 refugees.
Despite being haunted by the loss of home, family members, memories of bloodshed, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, (known as M.I.A) is one such refugees who have drawn upon the marks, that war left her with, into creating a powerful art. Her unique musical blends of rap and traditional Asian music combined with her unbending desire to use her art to question the hegemonic socio-political structures, has made her one of the beloved pop singers.
Born in 1977, MIA flee with her mother to London in late 1980s where they lived in one of the public housing projects. In early 20’s MIA enrolled in a college of Art and Design to study visual arts. Inspired by her artistic skills, Justine Frischmann of the band Elastica approached M.I.A. to assist him in few of his album productions. Her experience in visual art, interest in rap and hip-hop music styles, and her refugee experience motivated her to release her first music album ‘Galang’ in 2003. It got shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize and ranked third on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums chart.