Category Archives: British imperialism

“Anglo-Ceylonese”: A Missing Dimension in British Ceylon

Michael Roberts

The conquest of the island of Ceilao by the British between 1796 and 1818 was an outcome of their imperial conquests in India and underpinned by their sea power. The presence of their troops and other personnel in British India was so extensive that in time a new ethnic category-cum-group emerged in the localities (usually towns) with British personnel: namely, the Anglo-Indians.[i] By the late 19th century these people of mixed descent spawned by British personnel in India stood as a distinct community of Christians speaking Indian English as their mother-tongue and oriented to both India and the United Kingdom.

 

An Anglo-Indian being washed and coiffured

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The Modern Nation States’ Victims

Adam Henry Hughes, whose original title runs thus “Hiding the Body Bags: The Nation-State, Killing and Death”

During a lecture [in 2010], the famous news correspondent Robert Fisk told a story of the reaction of a Reuter’s news agency (London) to receiving graphic pictures of civilian death and destruction caused in Iraq by British forces. Reuter’s called the pictures “obscene” and therefore not fit to be shown back home.(1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We learn about the abstract war, the war of nationalist or ideological sacrifice and endurance, the achievement of some military objective or another; the war that is remembered in one national cemetery or memorial museum. But we must not see the broken and mutilated bodies—the final state of the human being once steel, bomb, bullet or blade meets flesh.(2)

 

 

 

 

Many died in the Battle at LONE PINE

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Presenting the Portuguese Burghers of Sri Lanka: Today and Yesterday

Earl Barthelot, in Ceylon Digest, 22 February 2020, where the title reads The Portuguese Burghers of Ceylon”

Sri Lanka is well known for its diversity with over 22 numerically small communities and majority communities such as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. Burgher community is one of the numerically small communities. Large proportions of the Burghers do live in the Batticaloa District and a small proportion live both in Trincomalee and Ampara District. At the same time there are Portuguese Burghers living in all parts of the country in small numbers.

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A Layman’s History of Afghanistan

Compiled by Gp Capt Kumar Kirinde, SLAF (Retd)  = “AFGHANISTAN:  THE SOUTH ASIAN NATION IN TURMOIL Part 1″ …. compiled with use of Wikipedia

Introduction:  Afghanistan is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, TurkmenistanUzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the northeast. Occupying 652,864 square kilometers (252,072 sq mi), the country is predominately mountainous with plains in the north and southwest. It is inhabited by 31.4 million people as of 2020, with 4.6 million living in the capital and largest city, Kabul.

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Rendering Kandy into a Cosmic Force — Sri Vikrama Rajasinha

  PK Balachandran, in Daily Mirror 9 September 2021, with this title  “Recreating King Rajasinha’s cosmic city”

Sri Lanka’s last king, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy, was vilified as a cruel despot and was overthrown by the British in 1815, acting in cahoots with disgruntled local chieftains. But King Rajasinha was a creative builder, town-planner and an executor of irrigation projects for the benefit of the common man. In the latter part of his politically troubled reign (1798-1815), King Rajasinha had turned all his energies towards making his capital city, Kandy, a “cosmic city” fit for God Sakra, the Sinhala version of the Hindu God Indra.

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Pyrrhic Defeat: Seven Days which shattered the Great Game of Smashing Afghanistan

Jolly Somasundaram

            “Truth is like the Sun, one can shut it off for sometime, but it will not go away.” …. Elvis Presley                  

Afghanistan has done it again! A country, where her geography was her destiny, made her push towards repeated trysts with history- Alexander’s Greeks, Mongols, Mughals, the Brits, Russians, Americans. She, redoubtable to foreign invaders, specialised in making her country, micro- Kanattestans for these invading hordes. These done-in foreign forces now out-done, were not small fry but superpowers.

Troops from Britain- the Rotweiller in her time slot of Empire building- were decimated three times, bleaching this arid landscape. Undaunted, Sysyphean Britain ventured on the fourth, though now a metamorphosed American poodle: same wipe-out. Russia, in her own time slot of imperial hope, was similarly sent scurrying home. Smaller European countries- Australia, Germany, France Italy, Canada, wishing to taste Petite Gloire but lacking oomph, hitch hiked on the NATO bandwagon: the same degrading exit.

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Sherlock Holmes & Churchill: Their Lessons on Afghanistan

David Von Drehle, in Washington Post, 8 August 2021, with this title … “Sherlock holmes & Winston Churchill: Cautionary tales on Afghanistan”

   

I learned of a place called Afghanistan as many Americans used to do: by reading one of the most famous opening chapters in literary history. I was 11 years old, and my new book introduced a young English doctor. Sent to an outpost of the Empire, he was hurried ahead to the front lines of a persistent war. He united with his assigned unit in Kandahar, and nearly died in combat when his shoulder was shattered by a bullet. Recuperating back in London, seeking an affordable apartment, he met a potential roommate — a strange fellow among whose first words to him were:

“You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.”

Thus Dr. Watson met Sherlock Holmes.

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John Pilger’s Overview of the Deeper History of Western Intervention in Afghanistan

John Pilger  in Consortium News, Volume 26, Number 240, 28 August 2021, with this title “The Great Game of Smashing Nations”

More than a generation ago, Afghanistan won its freedom, which the U.S., Britain and their “allies” destroyed.

Outside the gate of the Arg, the presidential palace, in Kabul, the day after the Saur revolution on April 28, 1978. (Cleric77, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

As a tsunami of crocodile tears engulfs Western politicians, history is suppressed. More than a generation ago, Afghanistan won its freedom, which the United States, Britain and their “allies” [then] destroyed.

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Sinhalaness in Pre-British Ceylon: Issues and Pathways

A Review Essay by Alan Strathern** dissecting a Book by Michael Roberts published in 2004

This item was located by Thuppahi in the web-site Colombo Telegraph on 26 December 2012 (see https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-royal-we-sinhala-identity-in-the-dynastic-state/). However, it appeared initially in 2005 in the prestigious journal Modern Asian Studies,  39: 1013–1026.

AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE by Michael Roberts, 7 August 2021

This item is a review essay not a standard review. Alan Strathern is an accomplished historian who happens to be the son of a leading social anthropologist, viz., Marilyn Strathern of ANU and Cambridge University. You will find that his prose is as refined and clear-cut as demanding. After some hesitation, I decided to adhere to my normal policy of highlighting some parts of the text with blue colourfor the benefit of readers facing the difficulties posed by complex issues in historical sociology. On occasions I have also imposed a break in extra-long paragraphs. The illustrations too are my impositions intended to promote reader interest.

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Introducing Alan Strathern’s Work to Sri Lankan Aficianados

Alan Strathern’s first major work was Kingship and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Sri Lanka: Portuguese Imperialism in a Buddhist Land. …. published in 2008 and since then he has extended his reach. Though in far too belated manner, Thuppahi here introduces his work to a Sri Lankan audience …. Begiining with a citation leading to CR De Silva’s review of his book on Sri Lanka….. and ending with his own introduction of self to the world in the Oxford University web site.

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