Category Archives: demography

Caste in Jaffna

Prashanth Kuganathan** whose title runs thus: “Social Stratification in Jaffna: A Survey of Recent Research on Caste”

A SYNOPSIS: Since 1983, war has dominated the perception of Sri Lanka. This has affected scholarship on the country, such that the subjects of an overwhelming number of research proposals and publications have been on the war and the prospects and prescriptions for peace. This survey paper is an attempt to locate the system of caste in transition in the Jaffna Peninsula by reviewing recent literature written after the commencement of the war. While detailed ethnographies of caste in Jaffna may have temporarily come to a halt, caste practices have not and remain a salient part of everyday life among the Tamils in Sri Lanka. As the war ended in 2009, it is therefore important that social scientists on Sri Lanka revisit the topic of caste, that is an integral part of not just Tamil culture or society, but being Tamil itself. As the study of caste is dominated by research in India, a microanalysis of Jaffna and Sri Lanka, particularly the nuances of this system in transition due to war and militancy, could contribute to the macro-study of caste at a sub-continental perspective.

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Working on the Book PEOPLE INBETWEEN

Michael Roberts

The ‘discovery’ of the Lorenz Cabinet in the Royal Asiatic Society in the 1980s led me to combine with Percy Colin-Thome[1] and Ismeth Raheem in working up this material into a plan envisaging a  set of books (four volumes).[2] The first in this projected series was drafted by me and came out in 1989 courtesy of Sarvodaya Publishing Services (within the limitations of book production in that period).[3] This book, People Inbetween,  has been out of print for quite a while.

 

 

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The Hill-Country Tamils: Their Shitty-Situation Then … and NOW

Ahilan Kadirgamar, in Daily Mirror, 21 November 2022, where the title reads “Hill-country Tamils and Crisis Times” …. with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

When our country collapses before our own eyes with one of the deepest crises in historical memory, from what vantage point should we analyse our predicament? Sri Lanka’s political economy over the last two centuries is anchored in the travails and strivings of Hill Country Tamils. Their sweat and blood, that began with the horrifying journey from South India two centuries ago as indentured labour to work in the coffee and later tea plantations, were central to building the country’s modern economy under British colonialism. However, their position in society, and for that matter even the writing of their history, was marginalised. And despite the great democratic and social welfare advances in Sri Lanka with universal suffrage in 1931 and a powerful legacy of free healthcare and education, the social, economic and political life of the Hill Country Tamil community is characterised by struggle amidst persistent crisis times.

‘Ceylon tea’ gave Sri Lanka the recognition in the world map, but the plantation workers are still languishing in their ages-old abode, known as line rooms and continue to be marginalised in education, community wellbeing and healthcare.

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Sikh Troops as British Punishing Rods during the 1915 Riots

Joe Simpson, in Email Note responding to the Thuppahi Item https://thuppahis.com/2021/05/23/percy-colin-thome-and-the-composition-of-the-book-people-inbetween/

Most interesting, Michael. I’ve had the privilege of periodic correspondence with the estimable Ismeth Raheem in the past, and thanks to the kindness of Vancouver, BC-resident Ranil Bibile who agreed to be courier, once sent Ismeth a Giclée reproduction of a previously-unknown 1840s painting by Andrew Nicholl from his outbound voyage to Colombo, the original of which has been purchased by a British Columbia collector with whom I’d been in touch.
In regards to your attached bibliography, specifically the scholarly article on the 1915 communal riots that particularly affected the Galle-Tangalle area, while I was on VSO teaching at Richmond College (1973-74) some RCG colleagues and I were in Matara on our way to visit a rural jungle primary school in the Moneragala area, when we fell into conversation with an elderly local, who had been a fisherman all his working life [photo taken then].

 

 

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The Kaffir in Sri Lanka: A Partial Bibliography from Thuppahi

Michael Roberts 

The first two photographs provide just a glimpse of their ‘markings’; while the map composed I think by Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya indicates the long history of African migratory flows (sometimes as slaves) to Asian lands.

 

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Seeking Aid for Poverty-Stricken Estate Children in Lanka

An Appeal from Ranjan Sivagnanasundaram of VANNI HOPE

PROJECT OBJECTIVE: THE OVERALL OBJECTIVE OF THIS PROJECT IS TO CREATE AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR THE YOUTH OF THIS AREA SO THAT THEY CAN BE SELF-DEPENDENT, CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE AREA AND BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN DEVELOPMENT EFFORT OF THE FUTURE NATION.

SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF MORAL EDUCATION HELPS ONE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG. IT GETS REFLECTED IN ONE’S PERSONALITY. IT HELPS IN BUILDING A GOOD PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE. IT HELPS TO ELIMINATE PROBLEMS LIKE VIOLENCE, DISHONESTY, JEALOUSY ETC FROM ONE’S LIFE.

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The Machinations of Vellala Lawyer Leaders that Deepened Tamil-Sinhala Divisions from the 1920s-to-the-1960s

Sebastian Rasalingam, reproducing an article presented in 2008 in The Sri Lanka Guardian in October 2008 with this title “An Excellent and Timely Feature on the Tamils” **

 Please permit me to make some comments on the recent article on the “Sri Lankan Identity” by R. M. B. Senanayake, continuing a discussion in a previous article by Anne Abeysekera. Both these articles, written by authors who are familiar with the English-educated Sinhalese point of view, deal very inadequately with the issues of Tamil Nationalism in Sri Lanka and in erstwhile Ceylon. In fact, the modern generation, even the Tamils, are on the whole unaware of the true nature of the present conflict and the role of Tamil nationalism. They are misled and mesmerized by simplistic histories concocted by the great political agenda set in motion by the Tamil leaders of the pre-1956 era. In fact, I will outline below how the battlelines were drawn in the Donoughmore days, by G. G. Ponnambalam (GGP) and others who followed.

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UNHRC Resolutions Display Blatant Double Standards

Fair Dinkum, with this sub-title “UN resolutions reveal the West is opposed to international democracy, while it tries to block attempts directed against racism and Xenophobia”

The UN Human Rights Council has just concluded its 51st session, adopting 41 resolutions and decisions. Examining the way countries vote on these resolutions reveals much about the hypocrisy of Western values, and that all their talk of democracy, equity, and valuing human rights is just meaningless rhetoric – a fact that can be observed in two important resolutions just passed by the UNHRC.

 

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An Exposure: “Human Rights” as A Tool of US Intervention in Sri Lanka

 Natasha Gooneratne, an item entitled “Under the Guise of Protecting Human Rights and Establishing Democracy: US Intervention in Sri Lanka,” …. presented in 2015 or 2016 (?)

Introduction

The discourse regarding Sri Lanka within international media has intensified since 2009, when the then government of president Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that it had defeated terrorism in the form of the armed non-state group known as the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) [recognized as an international terrorist organisation by the US in 1997], that Sri Lanka had been in armed conflict with since the early 80s. Sri Lanka’s announcement prompted widespread reports of humanitarian law violations, and human rights abuses by both sides. A week after the announcement, on May 26th, the UN Human Rights Council held a special two-day session on the situation in Sri Lanka, concluding in the adoption of a resolution commending the state for the policies it had adopted. The resolution passed with 29 votes in favor, 12 against, and 6 abstentions.

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Sustaining Cultural Performance Practices across the Indian Ocean

Shihan De Silva Jayasuriya et al

PREFACE to her new book entitled “Sustaining Support for Intangible Cultural Heritage” (ICH)

Sustaining Support for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) continues the conversations on cultural heritage which commenced at a virtual conference held on August 3, 2020, at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. The conference was spurred by the screening of my film – “Indian Ocean Memories and African Migrants” – at the Social Scientists Association, Colombo. The interest shown by UNESCO Global Network Facilitators, Dr Bilinda Nandadeva and Dr Gamini Wijesuriya, who attended the screening, was a catalyst to convening the conference. The Covid-19 pandemic further exposed the significance of heritage and the vulnerability of intangible culture. The book is a call to value ICH and an inspiration for academics, researchers, stakeholders, civil society, cultural practitioners and policymakers to understand the threats to sustaining heritage.

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