Michael Roberts, reprinting an article published in 2003 in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Summer 2003, 9: 75-102.**
ABSTRACT: The collective identity of Sinhala-speakers over four centuries dating from the 1590s is analyzed with due attention to the structural form of (a) the Kingdom of Kandy and (b) the British colonial regime that took control of the whole island by 1815/18. The analysis dwells on the modes of oral, visual-iconic and written forms of cultural transmission that pre-dated print technology, while drawing attention to the relative uniformity of the Sinhala language in both geographical and temporal scale. A semantic pattern of political alliances based on the opposition of inside to outside which works contextually like a nestling Chinese-box is one dimension of this linguistic order. This supported the tendency of Sinhalese representations to adopt an associational logic which merged past enemies (the wicked Tamils) with contemporary enemies (the Portuguese, the English) during the liberation struggles of the Kandyan state and its militia in the pre-1818 period. Such tendencies and the continuation of disparaging epithets coined during the period of Portuguese imperial intrusion into the vocabulary of the twentieth century must inform any theoretical efforts to distinguish the collective consciousness of the Sinhalese after the substantial transformations initiated under the British from that which is expressed so powerfully in the war poems of the pre-British period. Continue reading
Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, disparagement, economic processes, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, language policies, Left politics, life stories, literary achievements, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, politIcal discourse, population, power sharing, religious nationalism, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, world affairs
Aatish Taseer, courtesy of SUNDAY, where the title is “a People without a Story”
celebrations in the south–May 2009
FOUR years ago this week, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam announced that their struggle for an independent homeland in northern Sri Lanka had “reached its bitter end.” The group had been fighting on behalf of the Tamil people for more than a quarter-century, and its defeat was absolute. Today, great sections of Tamil country are still a scene of devastation. The houses are either destroyed or brand-new; the land is uncultivated and overgrown; there are forests of decapitated Palmyra palms, damaged by heavy shelling. And then there are the relics of war — graveyards of L.T.T.E. vehicles rotting in the open air; the remains of a ship, its superstructure blown to pieces and in whose rusting starboard a gaping hole gives on to blue sea. Continue reading
Filed under reconciliation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, Rajapaksa regime, LTTE, Tamil civilians, rehabilitation, truth as casualty of war, sri lankan society, women in ethnic conflcits, politIcal discourse, trauma, world affairs, population
Michael Roberts …. See http://www.scribd.com/doc/132499266/The-Numbers-Game-Politics-of-Retributive-Justice OR http://www.margasrilanka.org/ [right panel at top—then click]
Pic from Tamilnet, 1 May 2009 from Tamilnet, 5 May 2009, in Third NFZ in the extreme south of the final pocket of LTTEresistance
Presented here is an “Introduction” and pointer to a significant visual and textual study entitled “Numbers Game: The Politics of Retributive Justice,” which scrutinizes both the data and other studies of what happened during the last five months of Eelam War IV. This was the period when a large body of people, almost exclusively Tamil in lineage, was corralled into an increasingly shrinking area by virtue of a strategic/tactical decision by the LTTE leadership. The Tamil Tigers who were now facing imminent defeat, were hoping to use the human mass to engineer a humanitarian catastrophe, thus forcing the international community to act by halting the conflict. This comprehensive survey has been assembled by a collective, the “Independent Diaspora Analysis Group.” The key hand is a person who wishes to remain anonymous and can be called “Citizen Silva.” Born to Sinhalese parents, raised and educated in the West, he has spent the entirety of his life outside the island. This foreign setting has enabled him to build close personal links with the island’s other ethnic diaspora groups, thus shielding him from the communalistic shadows that overwhelm many of his compatriots back home. As the analysis of the satellite imagery reveals, his engineering background allows him to bring to the examination a range of technical skills not usually associated with the average empirical scientist. Continue reading
Filed under accountability, governance, historical interpretation, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, nationalism, news fabrication, patriotism, photography, politIcal discourse, population, power politics, prabhakaran, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, terrorism, trauma, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, violence of language, world events & processes, zealotry
Gerald H. Peiris, reprint from Ethnic Studies Report, Vol.IX, No.1, January1991
Among the various exemplifications of Tamil nationalism in Sri Lanka, those that relate to claims over territory have acquired increasing prominence during the recent past. These claims are based upon the perception that certain parts of the country belong exclusively to the Sri Lankan Tamils – a constituent ethnic group of the multi-ethnic Sri Lankan nation – in the sense that such areas constitute their ‘traditional homeland’. The present study is an attempt to place this perception under critical scrutiny.
In the current Sri Lankan ethnic conflict diverse claims and counterclaims are being made on the ‘traditional’ rights of the different ethnic groups over land and territory, ‘traditional’ invariably carrying the connotation of persistence over a long period of the past. Hence, the contending viewpoints are often based on interpretations of ancient and medieval history. The approach adopted in this study is somewhat different, at least in emphasis. Our focus is on the modern period and on spatial rather than temporal aspects. Continue reading
The Bodu-Bala Sena (BBS) is a political movement crystallizing mainly around Sinhala-Buddhist advocates of strong anti-Islamism. The knee-jerk reaction of opportunist political observers is to regard this as an example of a majoritarian populace behaving brutally, after having `caused Sinhala-Tamil terror’ by allegedly provoking the Tamils with ‘Sinhala-only’ discrimination. The BBS has also provided fodder for anti-government critics as well as the usual `I told you so’ liberals who believe that mass movements can be corrected by a little bit of sermonizing by `good monks’ holding vigils around the Lipton circus. Continue reading
Filed under reconciliation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, cultural transmission, Rajapaksa regime, political demonstrations, historical interpretation, world events & processes, democratic measures, accountability, power politics, sri lankan society, religious nationalism, politIcal discourse, disparagement, discrimination, patriotism, NGOs, population, nationalism, ethnicity, economic processes, legal issues, governance, Muslims in Lanka
Nimal Sanderatne, courtesy of Groundviews … http://groundviews.org/2013/04/17/review-of-fire-and-storm-by-michael-roberts/
When Michael Roberts left Peradeniya in the late seventies, he was part of an exodus of intellectuals from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, arguably one of the best universities at that time. The exodus of academics at that time was compelled by the economic difficulties faced by university dons. It was the second wave of such emigration that diminished the intellectual life of the university and country. The Arts Faculty of the University of Peradeniya never regained its prestigious academic status after that. Today the University of Peradeniya cannot take pride in intellectuals of the eminence of E.F.C. Ludowyck, E.R Sarachchandra, H.A.de S. Gunasekera, Fr. Ignatius Pinto, Ian Van den Driesen and many others. Continue reading
Filed under Tamil migration, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, cultural transmission, unusual people, suicide bombing, military strategy, life stories, LTTE, historical interpretation, terrorism, Indian Ocean politics, power sharing, Fascism, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, accountability, power politics, prabhakaran, Eelam, propaganda, martyrdom, sri lankan society, violence of language, female empowerment, politIcal discourse, tamil refugees, patriotism, population, mass conscription, law of armed conflict, nationalism
Dinoo Kelleghan in The Weekend-Australian, 13 April 2013 where the title is Tamils flee for cash, not from harm … Dinoo Kelleghan is a former foreign editor of The Australian and was a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal from 1997-2004.
IN contrast to the weary boatloads of Sri Lankans making the dangerous asylum-shopping trip to Australia, millions of different shoppers are out in force here as the island prepares for Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations this weekend. This year, economists noted a change in the spending patterns – lower-income people are spending more freely than the better-paid shoppers in the capital, Colombo. The reason? The gushing torrents of remittances home from Sri Lankans who have gone abroad for employment, often making empty claims of persecution to leapfrog others who stand patiently in long queues outside Western embassies in Colombo to get a work visa. Continue reading
Filed under australian media, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, island economy, life stories, LTTE, world events & processes, rehabilitation, Eelam, sri lankan society, people smugglers, politIcal discourse, population, ethnicity
Kusal Perera, in The Hindu with different title: “Martyrdom does not help Sri Lanka’s Tamils”
I read with much sorrow that Vikram, 30, set himself on fire and died in a hospital. He was the second such victim of the new campaign in Tamil Nadu for Eelam. The first was Mani, 41, from Cuddalore who set himself ablaze on March 4. Mani and Vikram will be remembered only when the numbers have to be counted if there is another self-immolation. But wait, where do they want this Eelam established and for whom? The separate State cannot be for Tamil Nadu. It cannot be for anybody there, nor for those students who are fasting and agitating.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) raised a separatist demand for a “Dravida Nadu” many decades ago, but had to give up its call as, after the creation of linguistic States, there were no takers for Dravidian separatism. In 1963, the DMK officially dropped its demand. Murasoli Maran had said, “I am Tamil first, but I am also an Indian. Both can exist together, provided there is space for cultural nationalism.” A leading theoretician in the DMK, Era Sezhiyan, had said it was more practical to demand a higher degree of autonomy for Tamil Nadu, instead of a separate State. Continue reading
Filed under democratic measures, Indian Ocean politics, LTTE, politIcal discourse, population, power politics, power sharing, Rajapaksa regime, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil migration, terrorism, tolerance, truth as casualty of war, world affairs
Joe Kelly & Amanda Hodge, in The Australian, 28 March 2013
CO-OPERATION between Sri Lanka and Australia – and turning back asylum boats – is helping to beat people-smugglers, says Sri Lanka’s high commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe. As the Sri Lankan navy yesterday intercepted the first asylum boat to be picked up there for more than a month, the former naval chief said authorities had stopped more than 3000 asylum-seekers leaving on more than 60 boats last year. He defended the practice as safe and manageable.
Filed under accountability, australian media, economic processes, Indian Ocean politics, life stories, people smugglers, politIcal discourse, population, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil migration, tamil refugees, truth as casualty of war, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes