Category Archives: literary achievements

The Early History of Sociology at the University of Ceylon

H.L. Seneviratne,** Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, USA, in Social Affairs: A Journal for the Social Sciences, ISSN 2478-107X (online) …. www.socialaffairsjournal.com

This paper is an account of the Department of Sociology of the University of Ceylon in approximately the first decade of its existence. The most significant development during this period was the transition of the department from one that provided courses for other departments, in particular Economics, to one that awarded its own degrees, making it a full-fledged and autonomous entity. The inability to grant its own degrees was not a plight rooted in any statutory limitation but a limitation of resources, in particular the want of adequate teaching staff. This may partly have been due to the ‘late comer’ status of Sociology in relation to other disciplines, and a related vicious circle of inadequate resources and low enrollments. Being a subordinate partner of Economics was also a part of the legacy of the department’s structural origin in the model of British universities. The oldest Department of Sociology in the UK was at the London School of Economics (LSE) and only goes back to the beginning of the 20th century; and it started as a subsidiary of the Economics Department. This paper makes an attempt to assess the relative contribution of the two major figures that strived in their own ways to secure the progress of the department towards achieving full-fledged status as a department that granted its own degrees.

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People In Between: The Splendid Contortions of DBU Diehards

Rajiva Wijesinha, reviewing the book People Inbetween in the Sunday Observer of 24 March 1991 **

“In this review of the book by three Sri Lankans – Michael Roberts, Percy Colin-Thome and Ismeth Raheem, Rajiva Wijesinha discusses some interesting aspects that go to make People In Between a ‘fascinating social history’.” — The Observer’s Introduction

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Laki Senanayake As I Knew Him

Ismeth Raheem: An Appreciation of Laki Senanayake (1937–2021)

Given Laki Senanayake’s stature and personality, I am confident that there will be a fair share of obituaries and appreciations that will attempt to capture something of the man and his work. This is a more personal account of my encounters with Laki, which span over half a century. By no means is this an overview of his life or work. For the most part this account is anecdotal, but it does strive to convey aspects of his personality, his passions and the work he created and inspired.

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Meaningful Appreciations of Qadri Ismail from the University of Minnesota

From the Department of English, with this heading  “In Memoriam: Professor Qadri Ismail: Brilliant thinker, inspiring teacher, loyal friend”

With deep sorrow, we note the death of our esteemed colleague Professor Qadri Ismail, who died in May at home of natural causes. He was 59. A noted scholar of cultural studies, postcolonial literature, literary theory, and gender and sexuality, Ismail joined English at Minnesota as Assistant Professor in 1997 and served the department in numerous capacities, including Chair of the department’s first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee and Director of Graduate Studies.

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People Inbetween and Professor K. M. de Silva’s Diehard History

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.

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The Power of Poetry: Learning from Ashley Halpé

Aparna Halpé, in The Island, 23 May 2021, where the title reads  “Learning from My Father, Five Years After his Passing”

I was mingling with the audience at a poetry reading in Toronto, where I had been reading some of my new poems, when I was approached by an audience member. He asked me a question that I’ve encountered before in some form or another throughout my entire artistic and professional career… “Excuse me, are you by any chance related to Professor Ashley Halpé?” When I answered that I was his youngest daughter, the gentleman proceeded to tell me this story.

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The Burgher Elite and the British Raj

Michael Roberts 

   George F Nell, Louis Nell, C. A. Lorenz,  James Alwis and Charles Ferdinands moving anti-clockwise

Preamble:[1] In locating the Burghers in ‘social space’ the book People Inbetween deploys statistical detail, text and quotation to place them within the Ceylonese middle class of British Ceylon.[2] The socio-political clout which accrued to the Burgher segment of the middle class is further illustrated by indicating the complex ways in which they fulfilled intermediary roles between the mass of the people and the British rulers and/or between powerful segments of the majority community, the Sinhalese. The extract printed below is a section of Chapter 6 [in People Inbetween] devoted to this purpose and is reproduced without citations.

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In Appreciation of Ashley Halpe: A Man for All Seasons

Tissa Jayatilaka, in The Island, 19 May 2021, where the ttitle runs: “Remembering Professor Ashley Halpe”

As we mark the fifth anniversary of Professor Halpe’s passing, we remember him with gratitude and continue to celebrate his life and work. He was a teacher for over 50 years both at home and overseas. He also enriched us by his research, poetry, paintings and translations; as well as by his labours as a chorister, actor, director of plays and administrator. In addition, he was a guide, philosopher and friend to generations of students, many of whom have distinguished themselves in diverse fields of activity.

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Gilbert Roberts: Barbadian-Lankan Virtuoso … and A Johnian

KKS Perera, in The Island, 27 February 2020, where the title reads G C Roberts, Barbadian 12th man in Windies became a Sri Lankan”

Continuing on ‘Nostalgic Memories of Windies’, I thank Lalith Fernando, “…my own native citizen unknown to me,” [quoting from his own letter…] for the correction on the day and date of 1967s 3-day match. Let me quote an extract from the last paragraph of my letter which appeared in these columns on Feb 4, 2016, under the popular series, four years ago on, “Kollo/Kello in Girl/Boys’ schools.”

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Indu and Anoma’s Reawakening in the Face of Covid

Indu Hewawasam & Anoma Gunawardena

Most of us usually find that we are distant physically & emotionally from disasters and crises that are reported from around the world. Early this year it seemed that was the case at first, with a new virus originating in a Chinese city, Wuhan, that many of us had not heard of until then. However, within a month or two, everyone around the world would be engaging with what seemed like a storm, or even a kind of Tsunami, with repetitive waves. The virus, soon labelled SARS- CoV-2, and its associated disease Covid-19, began to spread. Most of us focussed on its immediate impact on our little corner and concentrated on our selves or our family’s strategy for survival.

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