Category Archives: commoditification

Hocus-Pocus: Scrutinizing China’s Alleged Debt-Trap Diplomacy

, in South China Morning Post, 21 February 2021, with this title Debt-trap diplomacy’ a myth: no evidence China pushes poor nations to seize their assets, says academic

There is no evidence China aims to deliberately push poor countries into debt as a way of seizing their assets or gaining a greater say in their internal affairs, researchers and analysts said – countering Washington’s narrative that China was engaging in “debt-trap diplomacy”. Deborah Brautigam, a professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University and founding director of the China Africa Research Initiative (Cari), considers the “debt-trap” narrative a myth.

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Port Cities of Asia surveyed by Frank Broeeze et al in 1989

Frank Broeze from the University of Western Australia organised a wide-ranging study of port cities in Asia which should not be neglected in exploring the background bearing upon the ongoing politico-economic manoeuvres in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific today.

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Galle: Four Hundred Years Ago

Chandra R. De Silva

The political and military history of the port city of Galle, located on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, is well documented. This brief report is merely an effort to fill in a gap in the records relating to the history of this port in the half century between the 1580s and the 1630s.

The popular belief is that the name of the settlement comes from the Sinhala word Gaalla or cattle pen, but in his description of Galle in the Saragossa manuscript probably finalized in the 1630s Constantino de Sa de Miranda suggests that the name comes from the word Gal (stone) (Flores p. 130) of which there was plenty around Galle harbor. The Portuguese historian de Queyroz (p. 31), writing in the late seventeenth century, also suggests that the name comes from the word Gal (stone) or Galgue (stone house).

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The British in Ceylon: The Camera as Power

In 2011 Godfrey and Amar Gunatilleke sponsored the presentation of a pictorial history entitled Potency. Power & People in Groups, (Colombo, Marga Institute, 2011, ISBN 978-955-582 129-2.

Kotahena Riots 1883

This work was, albeit partially, the presentation of items gathered by Ismeth Raheem and myself for inclusion in the coffee-table book that appeared in the year 200o as Images of British Ceylon (Singapore, Times Edition) — items within segments that were excluded because of financial constraints. Such constraints also meant that the pictures in this booklet were not produced in coffee-table quality. The emphasis was on the interpretations attached to the photographs read in context.  While the booklet is still available at relatively low cost, the opportunity is taken here to widen the readership via the reproduction of sections — itself a project inspired by Anura Hettiarachchi’s translation of the work into Sinhala.[a]

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Galle Fort built on the Backs of African Slave Labour

Jeevan Thiagarajah in Daily News, 25 March 2019with this title“Slaves built Galle Fort” … …. with highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

The topic of the piece today was triggered by a conversation with the current High Commissioner in Colombo from South Africa, Ruby Marks, who has also posted on her Facebook page this passage, “Calvin Gilfillan, Head of Die Kasteel, affirmed what we suspected-the Dutch conceptualized and supervised, but it was the labour of an estimated 15,000 Africans brought from Portuguese and Dutch colonies, that did the back breaking work of actually building the Fort and the other ones scattered across Sri Lanka. I was shocked by how little was known in Sri Lanka about this. I visited the cramped quarters where the slaves were kept, the dungeons where they were imprisoned, and the cemetery-now a car park where they were buried. And my heart wept.

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The Moonstone that graced a Garden in Sussex …. and then Sold for $767,000

An Item in ba-bamail edited by Natalia J.

Bronwyn Hickmott took a beautiful garden paver from her late parents’ home and installed it at her own home in Devon, England. In an interview with BBC, Bronwyn said she had been fascinated with the beautiful detailing and the curious shapes of the stone ever since she was a child, which is exactly why she decided to keep it. Little did she know, the curious stone was one of the only seven existing Sri Lankan Sandakada Pahana, which are temple moonstones that date all the way back to the late Anuradhapura Period (10-11th century).

The Moon-stone found at the entrance of Uda Viharaya of Ridhi Vihara Sri Lanka Image Source: Reddit

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Swinging Christmas in Olde Ceylon

 Roel Raymond, in The Roar, 31, December 2017, where the title runs thus: “Christmas In Ceylon In The ’50’s: Swing Bands And Grand Galas”

History records social transformation. It is through the lens of historical narrative that we see the ages and eras of the past and learn of the people, places, and events that made an impact. Documented history throws a light on the customs and rituals of people as they wend their way through time, leaving their mark on a particular epoch. In the 1950’s, Ceylon has just gained independence from the British Raj, the fruits of which were yet to be seen. Many of the cultural influences of the British were still apparent, including speaking the English language, clothing styles, and partaking in English customs and holidays.

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Galle Fort: A Heritage Site under Threat from Gentrification?

Uditha Jinadasa   Interviewed  by Doreen van den Boogaart & Luc Bulten

In the Spring of 2020 Dr. Uditha Jinadasa defended her dissertation ‘Changes in the Cultural Landscape and their Impacts on Heritage Management: A Study of Dutch Fort at Galle, Sri Lanka’ and earned her PhD from the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. The fortified town of Galle is a living heritage city, but this status is threated by gentrification. Dr. Jinadasa researched what has happened to the architecture, demography, economy, and city culture since the Fort has become UNESCO World Heritage in 1988. Luc Bulten and Doreen van den Boogaart, young ambassadors of the Netherlands Sri Lanka Foundation, interviewed her about her thesis and her view on heritage management in Sri Lanka.

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Insights into Victorian Ceylon’s Westernized Bourgeoisie via the Jeronis Pieris Letters

Yomal Senerath-Yapa,“Family sagas and a peek at Victorian Ceylon’s westernised bourgeoisie” in  www.elanka.com.au/tag/yomal-senerath/ AND https://www.pressreader.com/sri-lanka/sunday-times-sri-lanka/20201108/282222308278502 …. 12 November 2020 = a REVIEW of the second edition of Facets of Modern Ceylon History -Through the Letters of Jeronis Pieris by Michael Roberts

Few voices of the early 19th Century bourgeois Ceylonese have survived straight from the horse’s mouth to-date. Who were this new elite? What were those first English-educated generations like? How did Macaulay’s “class of people who can act as intermediaries between us and the millions we govern — English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and intellect” fit in?

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Remembering Sean Connery…. the Quintessential James Bond

Anura Gunasekera, in Sunday Island, 9 November 2020, where the title reads  “The Quintessential Bond and the Quintessential Scot”” 

As a teen my introduction to James Bond was “Casino Royale”, a tattered paperback copy bought second-hand, for a few rupees, from the Bethel Book shop in Dehiwala. The cover image depicted the full figure of a curvy female in distress, overshadowed by the head and shoulders of a cruelly handsome, steely-eyed male, hair artfully disheveled, forelock falling across the forehead, and the Walther PPK ready for action. With an uncanny prescience, the cover designer had captured the key ingredients that subsequently built the film franchise.

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