Located off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is a country heralded for its natural tropical beauty, yet since 1983 civil divides have birthed war, aggression, and death on its lands.

a man stands in the sand in front of a leaning temple in Sri Lanka

In 2006, photographer Hunter Barnes travelled to Sri Lanka, intending to document the devastating aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. Instead, he arrived amid rapidly increasing tensions in the civil war and a breakdown of the ceasefire established four years previously.

A World Away—based on Barnes’ book of black and white photographs taken in the Eastern Province among the Tamil people, and accompanied by his personal handwritten diary entries—offers a rare glimpse into a largely visually undocumented period in Sri Lankan history.