Sasanka Perera, in The Island, 8 August 2018, where the title is “Rescuing Dharmapala from the ‘Nation’,” …. with emphasis via highlighting in this version being an imposition by The Editor, Thuppahi
I was intrigued to see the worlds of knowledge of the past that were opened up when reading Steven Kemper’s 2015 book, ‘Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World’ published by the University of Chicago Press. Growing up Sinhala Buddhist in Sri Lanka, Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) would easily be one of the most important historical characters from the recent past, we had become familiar with early in our lives. This was certainly so for my generation. As we know from that experience, Dharmapala was closely and intimately linked to the country’s Buddhist revivalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Precisely due to this reason, he was the most iconic culture hero of the Sinhala Buddhists in the modern period.
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The student of the colonial history of Sri Lanka has undoubtedly come upon the name of S. G. Perera in their studies. Fr. S. G. Perera, a Catholic Priest of the Society of Jesus was an exemplary scholar of the last century and whose parallels are unheard of. Publishing over a dozen books and over 300 articles in journals, his contributions to the history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the history of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods of the island have aided the development of historical knowledge to a great extent in Sri Lanka; what could be called his magnum opus, the translation of the ‘Conquista’ of the 17th century Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz, is the single most important Portuguese literary work which is the basis for any historical study on the Portuguese period. His proficiency of the Portuguese language gave him access to numerous original sources which he has translated and made available to the public is part of the wonderful legacy of this great historian of Lanka.
Fr. S. G. Perera (image from The Aloysian 1946-1950, Volume 06, No. 03)
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Gamini Seneviratne, courtesy of The Island, 18 June 2018
SB who passed away last week at the age of 93 was undoubtedly the foremost analyst we have had of what his principal work defined as “The Political Economy of Underdevelopment”. In that work, first published in 1982, as the blurb puts it, Dr. de Silva dealt with the theory of underdevelopment as he attempted a synthesis between the internal and external aspects of underdevelopment. In the Marxist tradition he focused on the impact of the external on the internal as the dominant reality.
First published in 1982, this reissue deals with the theory of underdevelopment, as Dr. de Silva attempts a synthesis between the internal and external aspects of underdevelopment and, in the Marxist tradition, focuses on the impact of the external on the internal as the dominant reality.Viewing underdevelopment as a problem in the non-transformation to capitalism, this analysis is in terms of the character of the dominant capital and of the dominant classes. Underdevelopment thus encompasses the ‘traditional’ peasant economy and also the export sector where the ‘modernizing’ influence of colonialism was felt. The book finally considers how the contemporary internationalization of capital affected the economies of the Third World.
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In the academic circuit most books are sent to reviewers by journals in the field of study encompassed by the book. My work on Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The Rise of a Karāva Elite in Sri Lanka, 1500-1931 published by the Cambridge University Press in 1982 was sent to Frank Conlon, a historian at the University of Washington by the Journal of Asian Studies. His review appeared in 1985. It was, and remains, a serious reading that is not informed by any personal animus, while being obviously guided by his own work on caste interaction in India.
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Chandani Kirinde, in Sunday Times, 27 August 2017, where the title is “A Historian Looks Back”
Kingsley Muthumuni De Silva’s fascination with history began at the tender age of ten, when, on a visit to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, he first came face to face with the country’s great classical civilization. The colossal architectural and engineering feats of the island nation’s forefathers left a lasting impression in his young mind. Years later as he travelled the world having established himself as a leading historian, K.M. De Silva discovered that the building techniques adopted by the Lankan builders of yore were far ahead of anything he saw in many countries in the west.
K.M. De Silva: Still writing at 85. Px by Indika Handuwala
“After my first view of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, I came back thinking what a lot these people have done. In the unique architectural styles seen in the Brazen Palace to the moonstone slabs, there is something quite remarkable about the imagination of the people who created them,” said De Silva.
While seeing this living laboratory of the country’s history set in motion his lifelong passion for the subject, there were several of his teachers both at his alma mater Kingwood College, Kandy and the University of Colombo, Peradeniya who helped hone his skill as a historian.
In his recently released memoir aptly named, “The making of a historian”, K.M. De Silva gives a glimpse of his teachers who helped develop his love of history and guided him. Among them were Sydney Perera and Ainsley Samarajiva, two of his teachers in the upper classes at Kingswood, the former a stimulating geography teacher, the latter “who took teaching of history to a much higher level than it had been so far in school.”
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