Portugal and Sri Lanka: The Historiography Today

Chandra R. de Silva,* whose original title runs thus: “Portugal and Sri Lanka: Recent Trends in Historiography”[1] … an article that was originally published in Re-exploring the Links: History and Constructed Histories between Portugal and Sri Lanka, ed. Jorge Flores, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007, pp. 3-26

In a recent article entitled ‘Theoretical Approaches to Sri Lankan History and the Early Portuguese period,’ Alan Strathern points out that although historical writing in Sri Lanka has become ‘the site of vibrant controversy’ due partly to the ethnic conflict, by and large, it has contributed little to wider debates on post-colonialism and the nature of historical thinking.’[2] I would agree with this broad proposition. What I intend to do in this paper is to extend my gaze beyond the sixteenth century to which Alan consciously limits himself and look critically at the extent to which historical writing in the past half century has enhanced our understanding of the complex connections between Portugal and Sri Lanka in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, … I will concentrate largely on the area of social interaction and leave the other areas — political, economic and cultural – for detailed consideration at a later time.

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Designing Peradeniya Campus

Thuppahi’s recent presentation of a striking photograph unearthed by Gerald Peiris which depicts world-famous dignitaries on their way to formally declare the University of Peradeniya open for the business of study and play has  attracted pleasure as well as information on the hands that may have been at work on this design. The debate on the choice of site for a new University branch is a separate and complicated issue. The focus here is on the architectural and landscaping designs.  As I indicated, Shirley De Alwis was the principal architect (and we require bio-data on this man). But, what else can we gather? Here are some preliminary responses. The Editor, Thuppahi

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Shirley De Alwis: The Hand behind Peradeniya University’s Designs

KNO Dharmadasa**

Shirley D’Alwis, the first University Architect, died in harness. He was working day and night to complete the job entrusted to him – the preparation of the buildings he had designed and started constructing – for the university to be shifted to its intended site in Peradeniya. After a long and protracted “battle of the sites” fought in the legislature and in the media, the State Council had finally decided in September 1938 that the proposed University of Ceylon was to be a unitary and residential university and that it should be sited in the land to be acquired from the New Peradeniya Estate, a tea and rubber plantation on the lower Hantana range on the banks of Mahaveli Ganga. It was a picturesque site with the tree clad hilly terrain sloping down from the Hantana range to the river bank.

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Lord Soulbury, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Peradeniya University

This striking and rare photograph from 20th April 1954 shows Lord Soulbury leading the young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their way to inaugurate the formal opening of the University of Peradeniya at its “Senate Building” — whereupon Prince Philip displayed acumen in deploying the original words –“more open than usual” when verbally administering the opening. What apt words!

This Pix has been sent to me by Gerald Peiris.

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Magnifique! Greater Flamingoes in Mannar

Unknown Author, Courtesy of Dushy Perera (a periodic migrant to Mannar)

We had eagerly awaited this moment. It was a little after sunrise on the Thirukketheecharam Temple road and  the dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil  New Year.  We hurriedly got off our  vehicles and started walking towards the mud flats and to our unbelief they were there.  Our cameras clicked from a distance not knowing how long we would continue to see them. But they didn’t disappoint us and we moved closer and closer to them. There were nearly 200 of them.

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Cedric Martensteyn and the SBS “Arrow” Boats

On the 70th birth anniversary of the co-founder of the Sri Lanka Navy Special Boat Squadron (SBS), Late Commander (VNF) Cedric Martenstyn NVX 5068, which fell on 5th October 2016, Sri Lanka Navy renamed their Arrow Boats as “Cedric” in honour of him. The SBS was raised by the present Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne and Commander Cedric Martenstyn in October 1993 keeping in line with the Royal Navy’s Special Boat Squadron and the US Navy SEALS Special Boat Unit.

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A Chinese Tale: From Surviving the Titanic to Racial Hate in USA

Liu Mengqiu and Cai Xuejiao, in The Sixth Tone, 18 April 2021, where the title runs thus: The Six’ Recounts Tragic Tale of China’s Titanic Survivors,”

The story of how the survivors received a racist response in the U.S. is prompting viewers to reflect on China’s rise. During the editing of “Titanic,” the 1997 blockbuster about the ship’s fated maiden voyage in April 1912, a scene of a Chinese man laying on a door, floating in the ocean and awaiting rescue, was left on the cutting room floor.

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Facing Religious Zealots: Easter Sunday 21/4 Placed in a Global Conetxt

  Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, in .. where the ttile runs thus “Geopolitics Of The Easter Attacks: The Weaponization Of Religion Amid Hybrid War”

“We have met the enemy and he is us” — Walt Kelly from Pogo Comics, quoted in “The ISIS is US: the shocking truth behind the Army of Terror”[1]

“Crime is a form of communication that is both complex and fascinating as it is always characterized by a relationship that can be established between elements present and something absent, or yet to be discovered…Investigating a crime and trying to prevent recurrence means evaluating every possible voluntary and involuntary message left by an author..”[2]

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/7/sri-lanka-catholics-demand-justice-for-easter-bombing-victims

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Sri Lanka’s Ecological Crisis in Overview in the Context of the HR Accusations

Asoka Bandarage, in Asia Times, 3 April 2021, where the title runs thus:  ‘Human rights’ and Sri Lanka’s ecological crisis “

A UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution of March 16 brought extensive charges against Sri Lanka over alleged human-rights violations, but is arguably seriously flawed. Opportunistic and strategic use of human rights by the Western powers to maintain hegemony continually ignores violations of the rights of nature and humanity rooted in the destructive model of economic development the same powers introduced to the world.

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Where Cricketers outshine Politcoes …. In Every Field

Lakshman Kadirgamar

“Ladies and Gentlemen, let me see whether politics and cricket have anything in common. Both are games. Politicians and cricketers are superficially similar, and yet very different. Both groups are wooed by the cruel public who embrace them today and reject them tomorrow.

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