Category Archives: British imperialism

The Games that the Almighty Play: Syria Now, Sri Lanka Then

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka, from The Island, 10 April 2017, where the title is “Watching Syria, seeing Sri Lanka” … highlighting in this presentation being my workas Editor …. and with further Commentary and Bibliographic References at the end

It was not easy to watch the proceedings on Friday April 7 that the UN Security Council’s emergency ‘open session’ on Syria without thinking of Sri Lanka, although the actual circumstances of the UN’s engagement with the two countries are very different. Only one thing seemed alarmingly similar. It seemed like a set up. US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s dramatic gesture of holding up photographs of chemical-gassed children only served to bring to mind the now famous theatrical display of a vial of anthrax by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the same venue to warn the Council of the imminent danger that lay before the world from WMDs in Iraq.

Image #: 24024242 Pigeons lie on the ground after dying from what activists say is the use of chemical weapons by forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad in the Damascus suburbs of Arbeen August 24, 2013. Picture taken August 24, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Dar (SYRIA – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT ANIMALS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) REUTERS /STRINGER /LANDOV

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, american imperialism, authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, disparagement, Eelam, foreign policy, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, news fabrication, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, tamil refugees, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, vengeance, war reportage, world events & processes

Mangala’s Testicles in a Selfie-Twist

Lasanda Kurrukulasuriya, courtesy of Daily Mirror, 5 April 2017 where her chosen title is Geneva resolution is about prosecutions, not reconciliation”… so the Thuppahi title is an Editorial Imposition.

After the UN Human Rights Council 34th session ended in Geneva, the US said it introduced three resolutions that were adopted with ‘broad cross regional support.’ The list included Resolution 34/1 on Sri Lanka.  The statement says that ‘Sri Lanka was one of the 47 co-sponsors’ of Resolution 34/1. This assertion is extremely disingenuous, if it is made on the basis that the resolution was adopted without a vote in the 47-member HRC. How could any member state of the HRC or friend of Sri Lanka be expected to raise its voice against the resolution when Sri Lanka itself had submitted to co-sponsoring it?


Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, american imperialism, atrocities, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, China and Chinese influences, constitutional amendments, disparagement, doctoring evidence, foreign policy, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, military strategy, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, world events & processes

Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE

prabha-with-pistol-2   prabha-tiger

Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907

Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4

The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0

Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”[1] Continue reading

1 Comment

February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

Sinhalaness in the Middle Period and in Wars Against Colonial Intrusions

Chris Speldewinde, in the The Australian Journal of Anthropology, vol. r19, No. 1, 2008, reviewing  Michael Roberts. Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period 1590s to 1815. Colombo 4, Sri Lanka: Vijitha Yapa Publications. 2004. Pp.xx +274, bibliog., index. US$60.00 (He), ISBN 955-8095-31-1.

Having spent a considerable period during my undergraduate studies of anthropology concentrating on cultural aspects of Sri Lankan society, I was enthusiastic to have been given the opportunity to read and review this work by Michael Roberts. In this latest addition to his many volumes of work on his native Sri Lanka, Roberts, has provided a rich tapestry of the period pre-dating the formalisation of British colonial rule on the island of Sri Lanka. He examines the forms of reaction of a society affected by migrating Indians from the north and European colonial expansion, beginning with the arrival of the Portuguese in the mid-sixteenth century and later, the Dutch and the British. This book provides a considerable amount of both historiographical and ethnographic material, from a wide range of sources to keep the reader engrossed in the development of distinct ethnic identities on this island nation. The use of verbal history passed on through poems and songs from the period is used extensively to substantiate Roberts’ theories of the development of a definitive Sinhalese ethnic identity.


Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, British imperialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, law of armed conflict, life stories, literary achievements, military strategy, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, world events & processes

Kumari Jayawardena and her Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World

Meera Srinivasan, courtesy of The Hindu, 1 January 2017, where the title is ‘There was a gap about our part of the world’

The first draft, Kumari Jayawardena remembers, was all jagged. She wrote it on train journeys between The Hague where she was teaching and Brussels where she was living then. It was the early 1980s. As a visiting scholar at the International Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands, Jayawardena was preparing course material for the women and development programme she co-taught. The short manuscript later became the classic book, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World. [Verso Books] The work is still considered a primer to understanding feminist movements in Asia and West Asia through specific struggles of women fighting against colonial powers, for education, suffrage and safety, and against poverty and inequality.

kumari-j Kumari today


Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, historical interpretation, island economy, Left politics, life stories, modernity & modernization, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, women in ethnic conflcits, working class conditions, world events & processes

The Royal We: Sinhala Identity in the Dynastic State of SĪHALĒ

alanAlan Strathern reviewing Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period 1590s to 1815. by Michael Roberts. (Vijitha Yapa Publications, Sri Lanka, 2004. pp.xx, 274) f or Colombo Telegraph  20 December 2012, where blog-comments can be located 

Michael Roberts’ writings have sometimes given the impression of a man who will write at the drop of a hat and at great speed: the subjects have been many and various; the approach as openly adversarial as many of the relationships he takes as his subject; the arguments occasionally advanced by death-defying conceptual leaps or obscure symbolic readings; the prose style quirky or impatient with the more conventional norms of academic prose. The latter is evident even in the present work, in fact the culmination of decades of reflection, where he refers openly to his own intellectual progress, to arguments with colleagues, even to his own ethnic category – Tuppahiyek, or ‘mongrel’ – and sees no cause for shame in routinely citing ‘personal communication’ or telephone conversations in is footnotes. Such considerations might induce the superficial reader to underestimate the importance of the arguments presented in this new monograph. In fact it deserves to be widely read by all those interested in the vigorous debates about ethnic sentiment, nationalism and the murky passage from one to the other.


Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, Buddhism, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, landscape wondrous, life stories, military strategy, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, world events & processes

Leonard Woolf, The Anti-Imperialist

Thiru Arumugam, Courtesy of The Ceylankan: Journal of the Ceylon Society of Australia, journal 76, Vol. XIX, 4 November 2016

aawoolf-dogWoolf and his dog “Charles” in Jaffna

Introduction: The Ceylankan has carried three articles about Leonard Woolf. In the May 2004 issue Vama Vamadevan wrote an article titled Leonard Woolf  which mainly covered Woolf’s years in Ceylon (1904-1910). In the November 2004 issue Yasmine Gooneratne wrote an article titled Lone Woolf in which she presents a scholarly analysis of Woolf’s book Village in the Jungle and describes a forthcoming new edition of the book with misprints in the first (1913) edition corrected and excised passages restored. Yasmine’s article mentions Leonards “patient devotion with which he had nursed Virginia Woolf through her spells of mental illness, thereby guaranteeing to the world the emergence of its foremost female literary genius”.  Finally, in the February 2009 issue Philip Sansoni wrote an article titled Leonard Woolf – The Lonely Cadet and the Maiden in which he describes in great detail Woolf’s affair in Jaffna with Kitty Leyden. Woolf in the second volume of his autobiography1 says briefly that it was only a one-night stand where he lost his virginity, which had survived his days at Cambridge. However, in a letter to his good friend Lytton Strachey in England dated 12 November 1905written from Jaffna, Woolf said something more “… what do you think of my new one alone with a burgher concubine in a long whitewashed bungalow overlooking a lagoon, where time is only divided between reading Voltaire on the immense verandah and copulating in the vast and empty rooms …” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British imperialism, caste issues, cultural transmission, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, world events & processes