A post-national, post-colonial history of early Sri Lanka and South India

Ravi Vaitheespara, as book review article in South Asia, vol. XXXIV, No. 2, August 2011, pp. 298-307 

Reviewing K. Indrapala, The Evolution of an Ethnic Identity: The Tamils in Sri Lanka, c. 300 BCE to c. 1200 CE (Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2nd rev. ed., 2007).

Pic of Siva Dēvālē in Polonnaruva

Ravi Vaitheespara’s concluding paragraph; “If, as Indrapala asserts, Sri Lanka was an integral part of the South Indian–Sri Lankan region for almost 99 percent of its history, his work certainly leaves us humbled at the power of:narrow nationalist historiography, particularly during the British colonial and post-independence periods, to completely distort and invert this history. The case ofSri Lankastands out in this regard because there appears to be so little resistance to this mono-ethnic nationalist imaginary. By contrast, the increasing assertiveness of regional histories in other parts of the subcontinent has meant that there has been a constant effort to check the mono-cultural narrative there. Indrapala’s work, then, is a timely reminder to both Sinhala nationalist historians and their Tamil counterparts that their supposed ‘discrete’ histories were instead part of a larger world of social, economic, technological and cultural exchange encompassing the South Indian–Sri Lankan region that has been all but conveniently forgotten in their respective narrow nationalist imaginaries.”

SEE http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/csas20/current

Also see the SASA web site http://sasaa.org.au/

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Filed under cultural transmission, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, world events & processes

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