Category Archives: British colonialism

“What Ails Sri Lanka?” — Daya de Silva’s Scathing Analysis

Jayadeva Hettiarachchi, in Sunday Times, 17 February 2018, where the title is “Genuine desire to find the truth about what ails our country.” .…. a review of Daya de Silva:  Pearl to a Tear Drop”

There couldn’t have been a more opportune time for me to read and review this book written by Daya de Silva: namely, that moment when Sri Lankan parliamentarians were vying for power, pushing and shoving, throwing chairs, chili powder and even attempting to stab their opponents.


ISBN Number 978-955-30-8985-4

We humans have a deep association with our motherland even when we live in other parts of the world. A person born and bred in a given country can be separated from that country, but that country cannot be completely eradicated from that person’s mind as clearly seen in the sentiments expressed by the author of this book about her life in Sri Lanka.  As is always the case, foreigners/expatriates do perceive things quickly and more comprehensively than those who live in a country. Of course, the interest, passion and a genuine desire to find the truth beneath what appears on the surface has prompted Daya de Silva to write this book as I see it.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, British colonialism, communal relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, education policy, electoral structures, historical interpretation, island economy, language policies, Left politics, modernity & modernization, parliamentary elections, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, welfare & philanthophy

An Appreciation of Revd WS Senior of England and Ceylon

Sukumar Shan … in Visual Storyteller

W. S. Senior Reverend Walter Stanley Senior (10 May 1876–23 February 1938) was an English scholar, poet and member of the Church Missionary Society. Popularly known as the “Bard of Lanka”, his works are still widely read in the island nation. He was also Vice Principal of Trinity College, Kandy, Sri Lanka .Walter Stanley Senior was the son of Walter Senior, a clergyman. His uncle was Edward Senior, headmaster of Sheffield Royal Grammar School[6] which he attended from 1888 to 1891. He continued his early education at Marlborough, a school to which he was deeply attached and about which he wrote both in prose and verse. From Marlborough he won a scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford. He took a First Class in Classical Honour Moderations (Intermediate examination) and a Second Class in Greats (classics or philosophy). He was the author of a work titled Pisgah or The Choice, which won the triennial prize poem on a sacred subject in the University of Oxford, 1914.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, charitable outreach, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, meditations, patriotism, performance, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy

Universal Suffrage in Ceylon and Lanka from 1931-81

Kingsley M de Silva’s edited collection of articles on Universal Suffrage … has been  a neglected work . As Sri Lanka struggles today and as many cast reviews on the island’s history perhaps this event in 1831 and its repercussions should receive more incisive attention from analysts. Apart from KM de Silva himself, the authors include RA Ariayaratne, CR De Silva, Tilaka Metthananda, Vijaya Samaraweera, SWR de Samarasinghe, Neelan Tiruchelvam and AJ Wilson …. by and large a Peradeniya University consortium.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British colonialism, constitutional amendments, democratic measures, education, electoral structures, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, Presidential elections, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Dharmapala, Banda and Gunadasa as Central Figures in Dissection of Nationalist Authenticity

Harshana Rambukwella

Let’s begin with the book title. Why is it called ‘The politics and poetics of authenticity’? 

The title refers to the central theme of the book. It is primarily about why we think certain cultural practices are more authentic than others. How do such ideas come about? And what are the political implications of such notions of authenticity and what are the cultural and aesthetic implications of these notions as well? The poetics in the title refer to the second aspect of culture and aesthetics.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, communal relations, governance, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, Left politics, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, patriotism, politIcal discourse, religiosity, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, unusual people, violence of language, world events & processes, zealotry

1948-2019: Intertwined Trajectories summed up …. Sri Lanka and Personnel

  Michel Nugawela, in Daily Financial Times,  4 February 2019

In search of a story: Professor Simon Anholt, who coined the term ‘nation brand’, once asked, “If the hand of God should accidentally slip on the celestial keyboard tomorrow and hit delete and Britain went, who would notice and why?”  I would like to ask the same question of Sri Lanka. After all, good leadership is largely about providing people with a meaningful narrative – a cohesive story that weaves together the significant characters and events of a community or country into a plot that articulates who they are, and who they strive to be.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, Buddhism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, insurrections, island economy, landscape wondrous, language policies, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, meditations, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes

Long Live the Burghers … …. Anecdotes from the Past

An Anonymous Muslim Admirer … using the email circuits

I have a great predilection towards Burghers. Not only because I have many bosom cronies in that community, but because I have spent some of the happiest years of my boyhood in their homes. The finest lady that I ever knew was a Burgher. The most select gentleman of my acquaintance is a Burgher; and if some unfortunate Muslim girl fails to discover me, I could still discover both intelligence and beauty in a Burgher girl and — marry her; I can have four, can’t I?

This is merely a personal outburst, because a fair face seldom fails to floor me. But the Burghers are not only fair of face, along with the attractive complexion they have, in addition, their broad sense of fair play and fair dealing make them the easiest to get on with in the world. We have been brothers and sisters in blood for we have tasted more things than salt together.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, cultural transmission, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, self-reflexivity, Sri Lankan scoiety, world events & processes

Sihalē’s Goddess Tara in British Hands

Senei Wanniarchchi, in Adahas, 2 February 2019, where the title is “Finders Keepers: On Sex, Tara the Buddhist Deity at the British Museum and Brownness in the Colonies”

I am at the entrance to the British Museum and the path separates into two. I take the path which appears to be less crowded and a guard interrupts me saying this entrance is for ‘members only’. I apologize, take the other and stand in a queue for several minutes. I pass through barricades that separate the members from ‘the other’ which leads me to a checkpoint. It’s my turn to have my bag checked and suddenly I’m conscious of my brownness. Soon, I find myself facing the British Museum. The building’s personality is intimidating and reeks of power. As I walk in, I am reminded that the history of this building and this city is intrinsically entrenched to my own and that of my ancestors and I am reminded of my place in the world and its hierarchies. As I walk in, I see a sign that reads ‘The British Museum —  collecting the world’.


Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, British imperialism, Buddhism, cultural transmission, education, foreign policy, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, legal issues, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, sri lankan society, world events & processes