Michael Roberts,here repeating a set of perspectives voiced initially on 19 June 2009 after the LTTE had been vanquished,in the News Magazine FRONTLINE that was printed every fortnight from Chennai.++
“One can win the War, but lose the Peace.” Cliché this may be, but it 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.
Michael Roberts, reproduing here an article that appeared initially in 1989 with the same title in Ethnos, 55: 1-2:69-82. … and also in Swedish inLanka. Tidskrift om Lankesisk Kultur (Uppsala), No. 2, March 1989. I regret that the presentation here has not been able to incoroporate diacritica for indigenous words.
ABSTRACT: This essay decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Maraya; the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of communion were represented as dangerous, disordering forces. The piecemeal reinterpretation of this short text, however, must be overlaid by a holistic perspective and the realisation that its rendering in oral form enabled its purveyors to lace the story with a satirical flavour: so that the Portuguese and Catholicism are, like demons, rendered both disordering and comic, dangerous and inferior – thus ultimately controllable. In contending in this manner that the folktale is an act of nationalist opposition, the article is designed as an attack on the positivist empiricism which pervades the island’s historiography and shuts out imaginative reconstructions which are worked out by penetrating the subjective world of the ancient texts.
t may be tempting to think that Quinton de Kock‘s refusal to take a knee ahead of the match against West Indies earlier this week is out and out racism, but ignorance of racial inequalities that have resulted from slavery, colonialism and apartheid might be what caused him to not comply with Cricket South Africa’s directive, and to consequently withdraw himself from the match.
That’s not the soft view, nor one that seeks to justify de Kock’s continued inaction over antiracist gestures, but rather one that aims to add nuance to the ever-complex conversation around race and sport, and especially race and sport in South Africa.
The array of gestures before the game against Australia that probably drove CSA to mandate the whole team taking the knee ICC via GettyContinue 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.