The 1956 Generations: After and Before

Michael Roberts, reproducing  the GC Mendis Memorial Lecture in 1981** in his collection of essays within Exploring Confrontation as chapter 12, pp 297-314.

ABSTRACT of the Article:  The electoral victory of the Mahajana Eksat Peramuna (MEP) led by the SLFP has been described as a “cultural revolution”, “a radical shift of power in Sri Lanka’s politics”, and a landmark in Sri Lanka’s history. Some authors have even gone so far as to speak of “the dethronement of the westernised elite” or the “replacement” of “the westernised bourgeoisie” by the national bourgeoisie. Within the pancha-maha-balavegaya particular attention has been directed towards the role of the bhikkhu, the vernacular school teachers and the ayurvedic physicians. To these interest ‘groups’ and social categories5 should be added the Sinhala journalists, the minor officials, the notaries and petition writers, and the small businessmen. Among the political goals emphasised by the revivalist elite were the demand for an explicit importance to be attached to Buddhism and the demand that the English languages should be replaced by the vernaculars as the language of administration.

** “I spent an year in Sri Lanka on research and the Mendis and Peiris families got together to commemorate the work of Dr GC Mendis as a historian and teacher in Ceylon days. His edition of the Colebrooke-Cameron Papers was an edition of an important set of items generated during British rule — source material on which we,as undergraduates in Peradeniya, “cut our teeth” in investigative researching.

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