Dennis B. McGilvray, reproducing an essay presented in April 1982 within Comparative Studies in Society and History 24 (2): 235-263 –– an article that is wide-ranging and draws on ethnographic work as well as historical manuscripts. Note that the highlighting and pictorial insertions are the work of The Editor, Thuppahi.
Historians and anthropologists in Sri Lanka have tended to migrate in opposite directions, but away from the multiethnic confusion of the port cities. Typically, the heterogeneous, semi-Westernized, postcolonial urban society of Colombo and the larger towns has been only a transit point on intellectual journeys outbound to European archives or inbound to “traditional culture.” This was certainly my viewpoint as I arrived “inbound” in Sri Lanka for my first anthropological fieldwork. I took only passing notice of the clerks of mixed European and Sri Lankan descent who sold me stationery supplies at Cargill’s and mosquito nets at Carvalho’s. These people are given the official designation of Burghers in the government census: they are the racially mixed descendants of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British personnel who occupied the island during four and a half centuries of colonial rule.
With the advent of the Black Lives Matter movement, together with the emergence of Critical Race Theory, the spotlight has once again been shone on the heinous institution that was slavery and its aftermath, racial discrimination. Could anything be worse than a system in which a human being becomes the property of another, to do with as the slave owner sees fit?
For good reason, the ownership of one human being by another is now universally prohibited, at least legally, for the inhumane abomination it has always been. Yet, in rejecting slavery it is easy to overlook one aspect that may be identified, for lack of a better word, as its sole positive feature. Namely, it was not in the slave owner’s interest to kill their slaves outright, for only living slaves made it possible for the owner to profit from their labor.
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)
My story here begins in Colombo in mid-2020 where I stubbed by big toe badly as I walked into the National Archives. The injury turned septic; and I was treated … I would say rescued …. by a Richmondite, Dr Sarath Gamani De Silva. He ensured that I was fit to fly to Australia in mid-September 2020. This entailed extra airfare and quarantine for two weeks at another cost of 3000$. The toe became a godsend because it meant that my enforced stay was at a hotel run by the Health Department and not that run by the Police.
Michael Roberts ... presenting a refereed journal article from the year 2001** as a foundation for reflection and fresh pursuits because it addresses the work of Edward Said, a renowned social theorist-cum-political scientist.
Edward Said Leslie Gunawardena
Abstract: Disenchantment with the excesses of nationalist and ethnic claims in recent decades has directed the analysis of ethnicity presented in academic writings in recent decades. Ethnicity is seen as pernicious, “primordialist” and “essentialist.” Other scholars as well as nationalist spokespersons are castigated for reading the present into the past. This line of criticism has entered the scholarship on the Indian subcontinent and been extended to surveys of the literature on the pre-British and British periods of Sri Lankan history. Yet these critics themselves are governed by the either/or epistemology of 20th century rationalism. They are unable to decipher the worldview and the political ideology that organised the socio-political order of the Kingdom of Sihale, better known as the Kingdom of Kandy. Their bias is “presentist” and “modernist.” With little patience for historical puzzles, their readings of the pre-British period are simple-minded. For the most part they rely on the severely flawed interpretation presented in Leslie Gunawardana’s “People of the Lion.” This dependence marks their ignorance.
**presented in Ethnic Studies Report, Vol XIX/1, 2001 … ICES and kindly supplied by Iranga Silva
Michael Roberts, in Daily News, 27 March 1991 … reproduced here with highlighting emphasis added
Professor K. M. de Silva’s review of the book People Inbetween Volume I in the Daily News on the 19 and 20 September, 1990 has come to my notice. My response here to seeks to raise issues regarding the way in which history can be written.
Fair Dinkum, an original essay –with highlighting being an imposition by The Editor, Thuppahi
In a recent article in The Australian, the Department of Home Affairs Secretary Michael Pezzullo put forward an argument advocating a war against China as necessary to defend “democracy” and “liberty,” insinuating that China is a moral equivalent to Nazi Germany. The Australian government have sent a clear signal to the world that Australia – acting as a proxy for the United States – is now preparing for a major war against China – and it is very likely to be a Nuclear war.
ZHAO YANNIAN | Protest |1956 | Wood engraving on paper | 38 x 48cm ….. This work depicts a Chinese delegation visiting the Nazi-German consulate in Shanghai in 1933 to protest the killing of innocent people in Europe.
The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting — Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979)
Memory does not explicitly feature among the four pillars of transitional justice: truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. Hence the precise role memory plays within a transitional justice process is often left to those negotiating the contours of the process. Memory is a vital ingredient in ascertaining the truth and in securing evidence to ensure justice for victims and survivors. Moreover, memorialisation of loss has a place in the symbolic initiatives owed to victims and survivors under the reparations pillar. Meanwhile, public memorials commemorating man-made tragedies contribute towards a society’s collective commitment to non-recurrence. Thus memory often becomes the lifeblood that preserves and binds the traditional pillars of transitional justice.
Today Black Lives Matter Inland Empire announced its departure from the Black Lives Matter Global Network, highlighting several grievances, and perhaps, calling attention to the need for movement leaders and members of movement organizations to have broader conversations of transparency, Collective organizing and accountability. The following is a statementfrom Black Lives Matter Inland Empire.
Ethiopia Berta, an activist and educator who has been fighting for a change for many years, marches in Washington, D.C., on June 6. Last year she worked to keep Democracy Prep Public Charter School in southeast Washington, D.C., from closing…. Pix by Dee Dwyer
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.