Early in the month of February 2023, I was invited by a young friend, Dr Geethika Dharmasinghe, to deliver a Zoom Video Lecture to a small class of her students at Colgate University in New York. These students were following her course on “Religion and Violence in Asia.”
Gandhi speaking and Zahran Hashim in pact with fellow Lankan jihadists …. Zahran was one of the two suicide bombers at the Shangri La Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday 2019 where where 36 people died
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.
Neloufer De Mel, in History Today, Vol 72/8, September 2022, where the title reads “Sri Lanka’s Deep Wounds” **
On 31 March 2022 a public protest occurred in the vicinity of the home of the Sri Lankan president Gotabhaya Rajapakse. The protest marked frustration at the shortages of essential commodities (gas, medicines, fuel) and the gruelling ten-to-13-hour power cuts imposed by a cash-strapped government with insufficient dollars to pay for imported fuel. The protestors also sought answers as to why certain neighbourhoods (such as Mirihana, where the president lived) continued to enjoy uninterrupted power.
40 years have now elapsed since the launch of the accelerated Mahaweli project, so it is an opportune time to review what was done and the benefits and shortfalls of the project to the nation. This project was the culmination of a 50 yearlong process that started with the rehabilitate ancient irrigation works and settlement of the dry zone lands that was initiated by our first Prime Minister, DS Senanayake, when he was the Agriculture Minister in the State Council during the British Raj. After independence, this moved on to more ambitious projects building large multi-purpose schemes like Gal Oya and Uda Walawe culminating in the accelerated Mahaweli project.
Avishka Mario Senewiratne, whose preferred title reads “The Josephian Cricketer who became the First British Qualified Muslim Doctor of Sri Lanka”
Small by area, large in diversity and history is the country, Sri Lanka. We, since the early Aryans came to the island, experienced the arrival of nations, either friendly or dominating, from the east and west. Some left, some stayed. Those who remained became us. We strived to accept this diversity. Yet, rulers tried to exploit us, by dividing and ruling. Beautiful is it to see people from all walks of life, irrespective of class, caste, creed and race working together and of course studying.
Uditha Devapriya, reviewing Gananath Obeyesekere’s new book The Many Faces of the Kandyan Kingdom(1591-1765) Colombo, Perera-Hussein, 2020, 200 pp., Rs. 1,200 ... with ‘arbitrary’ highlighting imposed by the Editor, Thuppahi
In 1602, the year of the Dutch East India Company’s founding, Joris van Spilbergen reached the shores of Sri Lanka after setting sail from the seaport of Veere in Holland a year earlier. Tasked with opening up trade negotiations with the King of Kandy, Vimaladharmasuriya, Spilbergen bore with him a letter from the Prince of Orange, acknowledging their willingness to counter the Portuguese. Not for one moment underestimating the Portuguese presence in the island, though, they disembarked at Batticaloa, which fell under the jurisdiction of the Kandyan Court. They anchored off the coast on May 31.
Michael Roberts, in the cover story in FRONTLINE, 19 June 2009, where the title reads“Some pillars for Lanka’s future”
One can win the War, but lose the Peace. A cliche this may be, but it is also a hoary truism that looms over the post-war scenario in Sri Lanka. The triumphant Sri Lankan government now has to address the human terrain rather than the fields of battle.
Rajesh Venugopal, … presenting here the second chapter in his bookNationalism, Development and the Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka, Cambridge University Press, 2018,…. 78-1-108-42879 8 hdback
Sinhala nationalism is the dominant form of political consciousness in contemporary Sri Lanka. As what might easily be characterised as an illiberal ‘ethnic’ nationalism of the east rather than the western ‘civic’ ideal, it is also widely identified as a serious challenge to the functioning of liberal democratic institutions, and to multi-ethnic coexistence. Sinhala nationalism features as a central element in the literature on contemporary Sri Lankan politics, and in particular, on the ethnic conflict. Understanding Sinhala nationalism is thus of critical significance and this imperative has inspired an extensive and sophisticated literature.
It has been over a decade since the end of Sri Lanka’s protracted conflict, but what we have today is ‘negative peace’ – which is the absence of overt violence. Limited understanding of Sri Lanka’s history, politics, democracy, ambition, intent, and the refusal to acknowledge acts of intolerance and discrimination that destroyed lives and led to bloodshed makes it increasingly difficult to avoid the recurrence of violence and we risk repeating the same mistakes. Today, we are confronted with choices that could lead to positive peace or a resumption of cycles of violence. Even now, the difficulties of dealing with COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout could lead to social unrest that may morph into inter-communal violence if manipulated. Continue reading →
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.