Category Archives: teaching profession

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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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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Peradeniya Practices: Face-to-Face in Debate

Michael Roberts

Both Kingsley de Silva and this writer were nourished as undergraduates, and then as teachers, in the History Department at Peradeniya University in the 1950s and 1960s. This atmosphere fostered vigorous debate. The epitome of debate was deepened in the cross-disciplinary setting of the Ceylon Studies Seminar inaugurated on the 10th November 1968[1] and held within the premises of the Sociology Department (then headed by Gananath Obeyesekere – an initiative in which I was one of the hands and a tradition sustained into the 1980s via the exertions of CR de Silva and SWR De (Sam) Samarasinghe.[2]

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Dujuan’s History Lesson for Non-Aboriginal Australians All

Vibeke Venema of BBC News, 6 May 2021, where the title reads “The ‘smart and cheeky’ Aboriginal boy teaching Australia a lesson”

A documentary about a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy’s experience in school, In My Blood It Runs, has reignited a debate about Australia’s failure to give indigenous children a good education and a fair start in life.

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Portugal and Sri Lanka: The Historiography Today

Chandra R. de Silva,* whose original title runs thus: “Portugal and Sri Lanka: Recent Trends in Historiography”[1] … an article that was originally published in Re-exploring the Links: History and Constructed Histories between Portugal and Sri Lanka, ed. Jorge Flores, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007, pp. 3-26

In a recent article entitled ‘Theoretical Approaches to Sri Lankan History and the Early Portuguese period,’ Alan Strathern points out that although historical writing in Sri Lanka has become ‘the site of vibrant controversy’ due partly to the ethnic conflict, by and large, it has contributed little to wider debates on post-colonialism and the nature of historical thinking.’[2] I would agree with this broad proposition. What I intend to do in this paper is to extend my gaze beyond the sixteenth century to which Alan consciously limits himself and look critically at the extent to which historical writing in the past half century has enhanced our understanding of the complex connections between Portugal and Sri Lanka in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, … I will concentrate largely on the area of social interaction and leave the other areas — political, economic and cultural – for detailed consideration at a later time.

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Designing Peradeniya Campus

Thuppahi’s recent presentation of a striking photograph unearthed by Gerald Peiris which depicts world-famous dignitaries on their way to formally declare the University of Peradeniya open for the business of study and play has  attracted pleasure as well as information on the hands that may have been at work on this design. The debate on the choice of site for a new University branch is a separate and complicated issue. The focus here is on the architectural and landscaping designs.  As I indicated, Shirley De Alwis [also spelt D’Alwis?] was the principal architect (and we require bio-data on this man). But, what else can we gather? Here are some preliminary responses. The Editor, Thuppahi

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Shirley De Alwis: The Hand behind Peradeniya University’s Designs

KNO Dharmadasa**

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.

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