Basil Fernando: A Short Abstract re the book Body, Mind, Soul, Society: An Autobiographical Account
This book (176 pages) is an attempt to contribute towards an understanding of the impact of violence on human persons and the society. It is based on the direct experience of living and working in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. However, references are also made to several more developing countries in Asia with which I have been engaged in working after the experiences in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The book is written from the perspective of a victim who is also an observer.
Michael Roberts’s response to my review of his book (the Daily News 19 and 20 September 1990) published in the Daly News of 27 March 1991 is at once characteristic and unusual. It is characteristic because my one-time student and erstwhile colleague at Peradeniya has never been known to do things by halves.
He writes two responses to the review in two separate newspapers (the Daily News of March 27 and the Sunday Observer of 31 March), only one of which, the Daily News, published the original review.
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.
K. M. de Silva, being an article published in the Ethnic Studies Report, Vol. 6/1, January 1988 …. a riposte to a Review of his book Managing Ethnic Tensions inMulti-Ethnic Societies: Sri Lanka, 1880-1985, (1985)
I have long believed that the author of a book under review should not bother to write replies to reviewers however perverse he believes the latter to be. After all he has had his say at greater length than the reviewer. My present departure from this practice, and the response I write to Michael Roberts’s review of my book Managing Ethnic Tensions in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Sri Lanka 1880-1985 stems from two considerations. Invited to write a short review (1,500 words or so) in the style of the present journal Michael Roberts writes a review essay of 20,000 words. It has been reduced to about 2/3rds its length for our journal but it is still the longest review we have published. Secondly, he proceeds to write two reviews of the same book, one for this journal, and one for another [see p. 61 above, Michael Roberts 1987 (a)]
George F Nell, Louis Nell, C. A. Lorenz, James Alwis and Charles Ferdinands moving anti-clockwise
Preamble: In locating the Burghers in ‘social space’ thebook People Inbetween deploys statistical detail, text and quotation to place them within the Ceylonese middle class of British Ceylon. The socio-political clout which accrued to the Burgher segment of the middle class is further illustrated by indicating the complex ways in which theyfulfilled 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.
Shirley D’Alwis, the first University Architect, died in harness. He was working day and night to complete the job entrusted to him – the preparation of the buildings he had designed and started constructing – for the university to be shifted to its intended site in Peradeniya. After a long and protracted “battle of the sites” fought in the legislature and in the media, the State Council had finally decided in September 1938 that the proposed University of Ceylon was to be a unitary and residential university and that it should be sited in the land to be acquired from the New Peradeniya Estate, a tea and rubber plantation on the lower Hantana range on the banks of Mahaveli Ganga. It was a picturesque site with the tree clad hilly terrain sloping down from the Hantana range to the river bank.
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.
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.
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.
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.