This little presentation is a DEDICATION. It illustrates the potency and power of friends in producing an academic booklet in 2011. As it happens, the booklet bears the title Potency, Power & People in Groups and was financed by the good friends Godfrey & Amar Gunatilleke of the Marga Institute.
The “Acknowledgements” and the “Foreword” taken together spell out the names of those friends who assisted this project. But let me single out Anura Hettiarachchifor his aid in this project and in the endeavours leading to my book on Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period (Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2004) because he was struck down by heart failure recently.
To Anura, then, in gratitude I place this item in my website.
The Thuppahi items on the Assassination of Rajiv Gandhihave recently attracted a range of “Hits” …. that is, visitors/viewers. I am puzzled as to why; but list them below – with added reference to the first hit on Rajiv on 30th April 1987when a Sinhala nationalist seaman from Ratgama attempted to assail him for imposing what is known as the “Indo-Lanka Pact” on Sri Lanka in a conscious move to assist the Tamil liberation movement. Wijemuni De Silva’s blow in fact hit Rajiv’s shoulder in a glancing blow because of the Prime Minister’s quick reaction. It could have been fatal (see “Clobbering …….…,” at https://thuppahis.com/2019/08/08/clobbering-rajiv-gandhi-as-chastisement-in-1987-a-guti-dheema/).
Dennis B. McGilvray, in India Review 5(2-3) November 2006, special issue on public anthropology, …. where the title reads “Tsunami and Civil War in Sri Lanka: An Anthropologist Confronts the Real World” …. with highlighting in different colours imposed by the Editor, Thuppahi
Recent calls for a new “public anthropology” to promote greater visibility for ethnographic research in the eyes of the press and the general public, and to bolster the courage of anthropologists to address urgent issues of the day, are laudable although probably too hopeful as well. Yet, while public anthropology could certainly be more salient in American life, it already exists in parts of the world such as Sri Lanka where social change, ethnic conflict, and natural catastrophe have unavoidably altered the local context of ethnographic fieldwork. Much of the anthropology of Sri Lanka in the last three decades would have to count as “public” scholarship, because it has been forced to address the contemporary realities of labor migration, religious politics, the global economy, and the rise of violent ethno-nationalist movements. As a long-term observer of the Tamil-speaking Hindu and Muslim communities in Sri Lanka’s eastern coastal region, I have always been attracted to the classic anthropological issues of caste, popular religion, and matrilineal kinship. However, in the wake of the civil wars for Tamil Eelam and the 2004 tsunami disaster, I have been forced to confront (somewhat uneasily) a fundamentally altered fieldwork situation.This gives my current work a stronger flavor of public anthropology, while providing an opportunity for me to trace older matrilocal family patterns and Hindu-Muslim religious traditions under radically changed conditions.
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].
Induction of Tiger recruits into fighter ranks with receipt of the kuppi containing cyanide
Tiger soldiers relaxing in camp with cyanide kuppi around their necks — Pix by Shyam Tekwani
Understanding the role of religion in the Tamil insurgency requires an understanding of Sri Lanka’s cultural mosaic and of the development of modern nationalism before and after independence from British colonial power. Sri Lanka is a geographically small yet culturally rich and complex island, with numerous ethnic, linguistic, religious, and caste subgroups. The majority of the population identify as ethnically Sinhala, and they speak Sinhala, an Indo-European language. The great majority of the Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhists who live mostly in the south and central regions of the island. A small minority of Sinhalese are Catholics, and some also belong to evangelical Christian churches. The largest minority group in Sri Lanka is the Tamils, who speak Tamil (a South Indian Dravidian language) and comprise several subgroups. The largest of these are the so-called Sri Lankan Tamils, who traditionally have lived in the north and east. The so-called Indian Tamils are labor immigrants from India who were brought in by the British to work in the plantation sector in the highlands. The majority of Tamils are Hindus of the Śaiva Siddhanta tradition, but there are also a significant number who are Catholics and a few to smaller Evangelical denominations. The Tamil Muslims identify based on religious belonging, not on a common ethnic identity, and they speak Tamil. Historically, the Muslim communities are scattered throughout the island; they form a stronghold in urban trading centers in the south but are also farmers in the Tamil-majority Eastern Province. Social stratification based on caste and regional identities was strong in precolonial Lanka, and then the colonial classifications of the island’s inhabitants produced new identities with intensified religious and racial signifiers. These were reproduced in the emerging Tamil and Sinhala nationalisms of the late 19th century.
Channa Wickremesekera is the son of the late Percy Wickremesekera, an acquaintance of mine from Peradeniya Campus days and a ‘Trot’ activist who migrated to Australia. Channa lives in Melbourne. I got to know him when I was working on my book on Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period¸1590’s-1815 (which came out in 2003 …………………… https://www.amazon.com/Sinhala-Consciousness-Kandyan-Period-1590s/dp/9558095311).
Laleen Jayamanne, in The Island, 20 & 27 July 2022 where the title runs thus: “Teargas cinema and Rukmani Devi”
“I have never found anything to excite the people in quite the way this language issue does”–– Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike to a journalist.
If true, this observation attributed to Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike, is quite chilling in its cynicism. ‘Excitement’ is a political emotion here and SWRD appears to take a distance from it, observing somewhat clinically, how ‘this language issue’ stirs up ‘the people’. Politicians are especially crafty, cunning, when they know how to excite people with ideas that they themselves may or may not truly believe in.
A protester covering the eyes of the Bandaranaike statue at Galle Face
“But to watch cricket, there has to be a country left for us to watch it in, no?” A fan at the Galle Test Match that ended with an innings victory for Sri Lanka. July 11, 2022
Spirits were high on July 11 when the Sri Lankan cricket team beat the visiting Aussies by an innings even though the country was in its worst economic crisis ever, due to a lack of Dollars to buy fuel caused by an international Sovereign Bond (ISB), debt trap and Staged Default.
THE PRINT: Jothi Malhotra in Q and A with Bhavani fonseka & MA Sumanthiran ………….. “Why Gotabaya Rajpaksa fled & next steps for Sri Lanka : MA Sumanthiran and Bhavani Fonseka”
#SriLankaCrisis#GotabayaRajpaksa In this edition of #ThePrintDebates, ThePrint’s Senior Consulting Editor Jyoti Malhotra spoke to M. A. Sumanthiran, MP from Jaffna district in Sri Lanka and a member of the Tamil National Alliance and Bhavani Fonseka, a human rights lawyer and political analyst on the volatile situation in Sri Lanka, the flight of Gotabaya Rajpaksa to the Maldives, the future of the country and whether the people are relieved. Watch #ThePrintDebates
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.