Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya of the University of London has been researching the Portuguese in the East for over twenty years and has generated a significant number of studies on Portuguese Creole peoples, their life-style ad languages in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Her output of work has been as varied as commendable and I begin with a summary of one article dealing with “a nineteenth-century manuscript in Sri Lankan Portuguese Creole” because i am presently fashioning an article that refers to the work of Hugh Nevill on the Kāberi Hatana in order to ‘educate’ those who have touched on African slave labour at Galle without possessing any background information on the topic. This essay is in process and will appear soon….. Michael Roberts
Category Archives: colonisation schemes
In late 1965 I set out on an oral history exercise interviewing retired British public servants about their experiences in Ceylon. This work has been clarified earlier in two Thuppahi Items. Because of my strong interest in colonial agrarian policies, I was familiar with the books produced by two outstanding Cambridge University scholars: BH Farmer and Edmund Leach. Farmer’s book on Pioneer Peasant Colonization in Ceylon (1957) reviewed British efforts to develop the dry zone of Sri Lanka via irrigation projects emulating the captivating efforts in ancient times. As such, it focused on DS Senanayake’s inspirational role in this set of enterprises. Leach’s detailed ethnographic experiences in a village arena in Anuradhapura District provided detailed ground-level data and interpretations in this field.
This is a ‘servicing item’ introducing an anthropological study in the North Central Province which appeared in 1961 and, as such, is an essential preliminary to an impending item that was one aspect of the Roberts Oral History Project of 1965-69, namely. the comments on some of Leach’s findings from several British and Ceylonese public servants with some experience of the Dry Zone and its villages and/or colonization projects…. with thanks to Nadeeka Paththuwaarachchi of Colombo environs for her typing work.
My essay on “The Basis of British Power” (July 2020) was instigated by articles from Prabath de Silva and Leelananda de Silva on aspects of the Donoughmore Reforms and subsequent developments. Vinod Moonesinghe has seized on secondary dimensions to press some hoary old strands of Trotskyist thinking and to laud (A) the intervention of SWRD Bandaranaike and the MEP forces for getting rid of British military bases in the 1950s and (B) the radical political messages of the young LSSP politicians who burst onto the scene in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This is linked to the standard Marxist belittling of the achievements of DS Senanayake and associates in the interpretation of the island’s path to independence.
Kamanthi Wickremasinghe, in Daily Mirror, 23 June 2020, where the title reads “Sri Lanka’s vanishing Elephant Corridors”
- As many as 16 areas that have been identified as elephant passes are yet to be declared and included in a gazette
- Area residents told the Daily Mirror that more land had been cleared during the curfew period
- According to research conducted by CCRSL elephants have well delineated to comparatively small home ranges of 50-150 sq. kilometres
- In Galgamuwa 60 acres of land belonging to the Thorawa Mailawa Temple were leased out to a private company
Gurminder K. Bhambra, in New York Times, 12 June 2020, with this title “A statue was toppled. Can we talk about the British Empire? “
BRIGHTON, England — Tens of thousands of people protested in British cities in solidarity with those rising up against police brutality against black Americans in the past week. They highlighted similar injustices in Britain. Protesters in the city of Bristol drew connections between a white police officer’s killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, and the histories of colonialism and the slave trade. On Sunday, they toppled the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, trampled over it and rolled it into Bristol Harbor.
L.C. Arulpragasam, in Sunday Observer, 13 October 2019, where the title is “The Veddas and the Gal Oya scheme: Ultimate resettlement at Bintenne”
In the Jungles of Bintenne: In 1950 I undertook a sociological survey along with Mr. Kuda Bibile, a University colleague, of the Veddas living in the jungles of Wellassa and Bintenne in the Badulla District of the Uva Province. The only authoritative study of the Veddas at that time had been done by Dr. C. Seligmann, a German anthropologist, in 1911. I carried his heavy tome around with me on my entire journey.
“The Portugese, the Saviours of our Culture?” = This is the title of a scholarly article written in the Ceylon Historical Journal in the 1950s by B. J. Perera BA (History) University of Ceylon who was our teacher in the University Entrance class. It was of course “dead against” the version given by nationalist historians after independence. However his interpretation simply put was that the Mughals had conquered Hindu India and ruled it for a couple of centuries and converted a large part of the Hindu population to the Muslim religion as had happened in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia and the Maldives, which had been either Hindu or Buddhist. The evidence in Bali and Java of the existence of Buddhist and Hindu relics supports this view.