Category Archives: modernity & modernization

The SBS: Marine Commandos of the Sri Lankan Navy

Michael Roberts

A recent article by Dishan Joseph (see below) has marked the role of a commando outfit known as the SBS, or Special Boat Service, that was developed within the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) during the Eelam Wars.  The story is complex and demands an elaborate ‘companion piece’ that is attentive to time, combat locations, initiatives and the lessons derived from a remarkable and formidable enemy, namely, the Sea Tigers. In war one becomes like one’s opponent in order to survive. The innovativeness of the LTTE was monumental and its sea-faring capacities were one reason why it outdid-and-outbid the other Tamil militant organisations in the fight to lead the claim for independence for Thamililam during the 1980s/1990s.

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Prince Philip’s Indelible ‘Marks’ in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy of my old student pal Piyasiri Wickramasekara ….more details below

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The Ethics of History: Discussion to be built upon Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington’s Lecture

Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington to speak on THE ETHICS of HISTORY and thus promote a Live Discussion, 14 April 2021, courtesy of Merton College, Oxford

Since the pandemic began, we have adapted our events programme to move online, and we are pleased to announce that our next 40 Years Series online lecture, a part of our Merton Women: 40 Years celebrations, will be airing live at a time more suitable for our alumni in Asia, Australasia and the Pacific.

Hughes-Warrington & Irene Tracey

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Today’s Geneva Vote in Historical Overview: Dias and Peiris

ONE -A: Jeewaka Dias, 23 March 2021   …. with coloured emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi, whereas ‘black’ is the authors

Cuba is one of the most admired countries in the Global South. Cuba stood up for Sri Lanka at UNHRC, with a speech calling for defiance and resistance. These are the hallmark attributes of Cuba which have won global admiration. 

Sri Lanka is on the right side of history. With China as an ally and support of the rest of Asia (bar one – South Korea) which did not vote in favour of the Resolution against Sri Lanka, the signs are clear of the Global Split. Between the rapacious Colonial countries of the Global North and ex-colonies of the Global South. 

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The Western Bloc vs China in Clash of Giants: A Veteran Lankan Leftist Speaks

Lakshman Gunasekara**

“I am NOT interested in Western anti-Chinese conspiracies, having been familiar with them all my Left activist life since 1974. My interest is (as a good Communist) in the internal problems faced within China and grappled with by the Communist regime there – including the Han ethnocentrism, the anti-Uighur AND anti-Tibetan racism, the huge social problems faced by the intricately managed, partial transition to the capitalist market and, by the new class relations that the CCP must manage with the rise of private capital. So, I repeat my request that if you do come across such studies, please do point me to them. Not this stuff which is as old as the Cold War.

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Ameer Ali’s Academic Works and Career

Recent Essays of Some Significance 

LIST OF PUBLICATIONS as set out in Wikipedia, …. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ameer_Ali_(academic)  …. clearly not updated

Ali, A. (2016) From Islamophobia to Westophobia: The long road to radical Islamism. Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 3 (1). pp. 1-19.

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The Covid: Pervasive, Familiar but Elusive

Matt Ridley, in The Spectator, 9 May 2020 … where the title runs ” We know everything – and nothing – about Covid

We know everything about Sars-CoV-2 and nothing about it. We can read every one of the (on average) 29,903 letters in its genome and know exactly how its 15 genes are transcribed into instructions to make which proteins. But we cannot figure out how it is spreading in enough detail to tell which parts of the lockdown of society are necessary and which are futile. Several months into the crisis we are still groping through a fog of ignorance and making mistakes. There is no such thing as ‘the science’.

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The Far Eastern Bureau and Its News Reels during World War II

Tony Donaldson

I enjoyed reading Michael Roberts’s short essay titled “Michael’s Testimony for VE Day in Britain, 8th May 1945,” published at Thuppahi on 10 May 2020. But I felt the story ended too quickly, leaving me to ponder where the story goes next. It would be good if Michael could continue this story. In the meantime, the following short note was triggered by Michael’s comment about the “insidious impact of Movietone News or Pathe News.”

After 3 September 1939, when Britain went to war with Germany, the British Ministry of Information (MOI) began arranging with numerous companies the release and distribution of their newsreels. One example was The Battle of Tobruk which was sent by plane to Colombo in March 1941. It was cleared through customs and distributed to cinemas in Colombo in time for screening at the evening shows on the same day the film arrived in Ceylon.

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A Medical Duo’s Forensic Study of Death in War

R M Coupland 1  and D R Meddings:   “Mortality associated with use of weapons in armed conflicts, wartime atrocities, and civilian mass shootings: literature review,”

9 Aug 14;31999(7207):407-10. 
 doi: 10.1136/bmj.319.7207.407.

Free PMC article

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Hocus-Pocus: Scrutinizing China’s Alleged Debt-Trap Diplomacy

, in South China Morning Post, 21 February 2021, with this title Debt-trap diplomacy’ a myth: no evidence China pushes poor nations to seize their assets, says academic

There is no evidence China aims to deliberately push poor countries into debt as a way of seizing their assets or gaining a greater say in their internal affairs, researchers and analysts said – countering Washington’s narrative that China was engaging in “debt-trap diplomacy”. Deborah Brautigam, a professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University and founding director of the China Africa Research Initiative (Cari), considers the “debt-trap” narrative a myth.

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