Category Archives: European history

How Robert Knox’s Opus took shape in 1681

Anna Winterbottom, in The British Journal for the History of Science, Volume 42Issue 4., December 2009 , pp. 515-538 where the title is Producing and using the Historical Relation of Ceylon: Robert Knox, the East India Company and the Royal Society”

Abstract: Robert Knox’s An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon was produced, published and enlarged through the collaboration of the author with scholars including Robert Hooke and financial support from members of the East India Company. The Relation should be seen in the context of a number of texts collected, translated or commissioned by the East India Company in cooperation with the Royal Society during the late seventeenth century that informed and shaped both European expansion and natural philosophy. As well as circulating between European intellectual centres, often reorientated in the process of translation, these texts served as practical guides across settlements and trading posts abroad. Comparing written accounts with experience led to annotations and borrowings that served as the basis for further writings. Company records and Knox’s own unpublished works reveal how the Relation was used as the basis for bio-prospecting for naturally occurring drugs and food sources and in efforts at agricultural transplantation spanning the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Through the reports of seamen like Knox, such experiments contributed to contemporary theories concerning the effects of latitude on plant life.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under art & allure bewitching, authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, European history, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, Kandyan kingdom, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, wild life, world events & processes

Galle Fort: Demography, 2018

The Population of Galle Fort in 2018

Muslims                    561

Sinhalas                     432

Tamils                          14

Malays                         02

Burghers                     02

Foreigners                  60 …… Total 1071        

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under architects & architecture, British colonialism, cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, European history, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, performance, population, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, tourism, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Amplifying Antiquity within the Galle Fort with Imaginative Restoration

Smrti Daniel, in Sunday Times, 12 July 2020, with this title “Fortifying Galle Fort. A massive project aims to restore the defence works from our colonial past”

As restrictions around the pandemic eased this month, a team of workers returned to Galle Fort. They are in the middle of a two-year restoration project that has them clambering over the great bastions, excavating echoing underground chambers and clearing out an ancient drainage system – all part of an ambitious effort to restore this UNESCO World Heritage Site to its full glory.

Conservation of the gun platforms of the Neptune Bastion

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, European history, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, sri lankan society, tourism, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

The Threads of Intolerance within Contemporary Liberal/Radical Fervour

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate …. Harpers’ Magazine, July 7, 2020 ……………..
……… The letter below  will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue. We welcome responses at letters@harpers.org

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, democratic measures, discrimination, disparagement, education, ethnicity, European history, fundamentalism, historical interpretation, human rights, landscape wondrous, life stories, martyrdom, meditations, performance, politIcal discourse, power politics, press freedom, racist thinking, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, taking the piss, tolerance, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, world events & processes

Authoritarian Populism is the Danger Ahead

Ahilan Kadirgamar, in Daily Mirror, 6 July 2020, where the title runs “Regimes in Times of Crisis: Authoritarian Populism, Bonapartism and Fascism”

The crisis we face now is like a tectonic shift in the economy. Global production, the labour used for it, and the demand to realise it, are all in free fall. What will be the political consequences, and what kind of regimes will emerge out of such a deep crisis?
In Sri Lanka, as we approach a significant parliamentary election, my question is not about the character of the parties and the personalities of the candidates that may win or lose. The victory of the SLPP and its consolidation is a bygone fact; that battle was lost with the presidential election last November.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, economic processes, electoral structures, European history, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, life stories, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, Presidential elections, press freedom, Rajapaksa regime, sri lankan society, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes, zealotry

Adieu! Galle Fort’s Burghers …. A Swansong in the Late 1980’s

This extended Video Clip recorded in the late 1980s takes many of us back to disappearing slices of life and its interactions within the Galle Fort, an arena that has been altered in ,but nevertheless retains its old world charm even today — while boasting astronomical land prices.

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under accountability, British colonialism, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, European history, female empowerment, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, patriotism, plural society, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Smashing Statues: Issues of Sense and Sensibility … and Nonsence

Rihaab Mowlana, in Lifelk, 19 June 2020, where the title runs thus “Are We Erasing History?”

The statue of Thomas Jefferson, the founding father who also enslaved more than 600 people, was toppled in Oregon, while the statue of navigator and coloniser Christopher Columbus was ‘spray-painted, set on fire and thrown into a lake’. In England, the Statue of Edward Colston suffered a similar fate, resulting in ‘the boarding up of the Cenotaph in Whitehall and Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square’. In many parts of the world, the predicament will befall many such monuments.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, ancient civilisations, architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, democratic measures, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, education, European history, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, meditations, modernity & modernization, patriotism, performance, political demonstrations, politIcal discourse, power politics, psychological urges, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, travelogue, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, violence of language, world events & processes

A Statue Obliterated in Bristol: Radicals for Floyd in Righteousness against the Slave Trade

Gurminder K. Bhambra, in New York Times, 12 June 2020, with this title “A statue was toppled. Can we talk about the British Empire? “

The statue of the slave trader Edward Colston falling into the water on Sunday after protesters in Bristol, England, pulled it down.Credit…Keir Gravil, via Reuters

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.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under accountability, architects & architecture, British colonialism, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, colonisation schemes, democratic measures, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, education, European history, fundamentalism, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, performance, political demonstrations, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, taking the piss, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, travelogue, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes

Reading Roberts on Sri Lanka’s Socio-Political Ailments: A Letter to Roberts

Drawlight, 10 June 2020

Sir: I have read through and consider this an excellent summary of the key issues,[1] particularly for those who are not very knowledgeable about history and of the sort who are busier protesting matters that have no relevance to them (the current trend among especially the youth in Sri Lanka on social media bandwagoning on BLM issues in the US simultaneously ignoring the more immediate realities of fellow Sri Lankans engaged in modern day slavery in the Middle East and other countries).

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, education, European history, Fascism, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, life stories, plural society, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, world events & processes

Colossal Kills on All Fronts in 1944/45, World War II

Michael Roberts

In venturing into reflections on VE Day commemorations, by pure chance I stumbled on You Tube reviews of the ways in which German POWs were dealt with in Britain during and after the war. This data base also provides partial information on the enormous loss of life on the various moments in the Western front as the Allied forces advanced on Germany after D Day in June 1944.

 Hitler Germany’s greatest reach 1942

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, European history, Fascism, historical interpretation, Hitler, human rights, life stories, military expenditure, photography, politIcal discourse, power politics, security, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real, trauma, unusual people, vengeance, war crimes, war reportage, world events & processes, World War II