Category Archives: British colonialism

Jeronis Pieris Letters in Coffee Table Book: Insights into 19th Century Ceylon


F
acets of Modern Ceylon History through the Letters of Jeronis Pieris … originally published in 1976 by Hansa  [on Bandaranaike era paper] and now presented as a coffee table book with  a host of striking photographs that recapture the mid-nineteenth century era of capitalist expansion with all its pluses and minuses.

Cost is Rs 6400 via the website www.pererahussein.com using VISA or MASTERCARD. The Registered Airmail postage rate to different countries in the world is calculated automatically by the website and added to the cost of the book. Foreign currency rates will thus be equivalent to the Rupee price but will vary slightly depending on the daily Forex rate. Foreign currency rates will thus be equivalent to the Rupee price but will vary slightly depending on the daily Forex rate.

ISBN = 978-955-1723-49-1 .…………….The book is available at : Barefoot, Cargills book city, Sarasavi, Vijitha Yapa, JamFruitTree, Kalaya, Pendi and Urban Island.
 
Jeronis in mid life … & Alfred House in its Prime in mid-19th century

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British colonialism, caste issues, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, Kandyan kingdom, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, unusual people, world events & processes

The Plantation Economy in British Ceylon: The Downtrodden Indian Tamil Labour and the Dispossessed Kandyan Peasantry

Uditha Devapriya, in SAT MAG” of The Island on September 19 and September 26, 2020.

PREFACE: This essay does not present a complete history of plantation slavery, which anyway has been covered many times before by scholars of repute, including Professor Asoka Bandarage, whose Colonialism in Sri Lanka went through a second edition recently. Rather, it counters Sinhala nationalists and those opposed to Sinhala nationalists who equate the position of African-Americans with that of Tamils and Muslims, indicating a failure to distinguish between minority communities which thrived under conditions of colonialism (and neocolonialism) and those which suffered under those conditions. It also counters certain “Marxist” and rightwing academics who see the plantation system as capitalist, and who, while either sympathising with the plight of Estate Tamils or ignoring them outright, single out Kandyan Sinhalese peasants for what they allege to have been their innate laziness under British colonialism, a myth demolished by S. B. D. de Silva in his underrated and unread magnum opusThe Political Economy of Underdevelopment.

Tea Plantation labour in Ceylon – circa 1890s

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under British colonialism, British imperialism, caste issues, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, economic processes, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions, world events & processes

From Galle Across Oceans: The Talented Joseph Family

An Introductory Note from Michael Roberts, 30 September 2020

This ramified tale begins with the wedding photograph sent to me my old playmate Adrienne Ranasinghe nee Conderlag displaying the elegant couple and entourage in front of the All Saints Church in the fort of Galle. This spark has set Joe Simpson, a Galle lover who taught at Richmond College for a while and is back in Canada now, off-and-running. He saw that the best man at the wedding was Louis Joseph and sent me an old article he had composed on the Joseph family. This essay is now adorning the Thuppahi web site as well.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under architects & architecture, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, charitable outreach, citizen journalism, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, patriotism, photography, pilgrimages, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Felicitations: Fr. SG Perera and His Work

Chryshane Mendis, in Sri Lanka archaeolgy.lk, 26 July 2017 …. and due ultimately to an article in The ALOYSIAN

The student of the colonial history of Sri Lanka has undoubtedly come upon the name of S. G. Perera in their studies. Fr. S. G. Perera, a Catholic Priest of the Society of Jesus, was an exemplary scholar of the last century and whose parallels are unheard of. Publishing over a dozen books and over 300 articles in journals, his contributions to the history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the history of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods of the island have aided the development of historical knowledge to a great extent in Sri Lanka; what could be called his magnum opus, the translation of the ‘Conquista’ of the 17th century Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz, is the single most important Portuguese literary work which is the basis for any historical study on the Portuguese period. His proficiency of the Portuguese language gave him access to numerous original sources which he has translated and made available to the public is part of the wonderful legacy of this great historian of Lanka.

Fr. S. G. Perera (image from The Aloysian 1946-1950, Volume 06, No. 03 )

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under ancient civilisations, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, unusual people, world events & processes

The Eastern Regions of Sri Lanka in British Times

Michael Roberts

My D. Phil dissertation at Oxford in the early 1960s centred on British agrarian policy in the mid-nineteenth century and therefore included the British efforts to revive the tank irrigation systems of the Sinhala past. Several British colonial personnel as well as visiting dignitaries were captivated by the ruins of the Anuradhapura/Polonnaruwa periods which they observed during adventure trips. A few saw it as a challenge for their imperial capacity. Some British governors, notably Ward, Gregory and Gordon, took up the prospect.

 Sir Henry Ward and SJV Chelvanyakam

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under ancient civilisations, British colonialism, caste issues, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, communal relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, LTTE, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, population, power politics, religiosity, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, trauma, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, women in ethnic conflcits, working class conditions, world events & processes

Epitaphs in Memory of Elmo de Alwis of Kalahe

Nihal De Alwis

Elmo was born on the 29th Of November 1935 in Galle to my loving parents FELIX DE ALWIS and ENID BERYL DE ALWIS. He was the seventh in our family of eleven He was my closest brother and friend throughout my schooling career until he left Sri Lanka with his family to Germany. But he never distanced himself from me and my family though he did not come very often to Sri Lanka having ensured that he was in Sri Lanka at least once a year especially in February. He was the most intelligent out of our family except for Fidelia our eldest sister, who had passed the senior matriculation in the early forties and my other eldest brother Chandra, who excelled as an entrepreneur being the managing Director of Lankem and Lanka wall tiles and becoming Founder Chairman of Royal Ceramics.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, performance, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, tolerance, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

The Carpentry Trade in the Rise of the Karāva in British Ceylon

Professor Sanath Lamabadusuriya

The Dutch period opened up several new economic opportunities for the locals, and the British period that followed opened up even more. Carpentry was one of them. Colonial economic activity in the maritime provinces required large buildings with extensive woodwork, Carts, boats and ships for transport, barrels for storage and European style furniture. These demands created a new and thriving carpentry industry.

A Coopering Factory …. Such products as arrack and coffee (and later graphite) were packed into barrels for transhipment. The demand would have been considerable so that entrepreneurs who set up coopering concerns would have been among those who became scions of the indigenous capitalist class.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, cultural transmission, economic processes, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes

Barbados to jettison Queen Elizabeth: A Move to Republic

Barbados has announced plans to become a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. The former British Caribbean colony, which retained the monarch as head of state when it became an independent state in 1966.gIt intends to make the transition by November next year when it celebrates 55 years since independence.

Queen Elizabeth in Barbados in 1989

The move was announced in the annual Throne Speech delivered by Governor General Sandra Mason, who is Elizabeth’s representative in Barbados.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, British colonialism, constitutional amendments, cultural transmission, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, legal issues, life stories, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, world events & processes

The Democratization Process in Ceylon, 1832-1948

Michael Roberts: “The Democratization Process in Sri Lanka,”  being the text of an Illustrated Lecture on Video presented to The May 18 Memorial Foundation in Korea in early September 2020 …. as part of a series encompassing several countries — organised by Professor Inrae You. The Lecture was, as I understood it, for highschool students.

The democratisation process began in the period of British rule in the 20th century. It would however be unwise to start with the early 20th century. One should look at the prehistory of the island of Ceylon before that. Ceylon, Ceilão, Sihalē had forms of autocratic kingship well before the European colonial powers came to Asia and set up their colonies.

Rajasinghe II of Sihale ruling from Mahanuvara and receiving homage (dakuma) from the Dutch

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, constitutional amendments, democratic measures, devolution, economic processes, electoral structures, female empowerment, governance, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, nationalism, parliamentary elections, politIcal discourse, power politics, power sharing, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Experiencing Denigration in Sri Lanka: The Muslims Yesterday and Today

Shamara Wettimuny, in History Workshop, 7 September 2020, where the title runs “The Colonial History of Islamophobic Slurs in Sri Lanka”**

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith island. Yet despite centuries of physical coexistence, ethnic, religious and linguistic differences continue to bring communities into conflict. Muslims in Sri Lanka (comprising around 9.7% of the population) are often vilified by both the Sinhalese majority (who are either Buddhist or Christian) and Tamil minority (either Hindu or Christian) for their religious beliefs, practices, and dress. Following the Easter Sunday suicide attacks in April 2019 – carried out by a group of extremists linked to the Islamist group, the National Thowheed Jamaat – the wider Muslim community faced a discriminatory and sometimes violent backlash. In 2020, as COVID-19 spread in Sri Lanka, Muslims were blamed for ‘spreading the disease’, and for wanting to bury their dead in line with traditional Islamic burial practices (as opposed to cremation as stipulated by the Sri Lankan government).

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, atrocities, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, fundamentalism, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, religiosity, riots and pogroms, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, world events & processes, zealotry