Category Archives: ethnicity

A Requiem for Stanley J. Tambiah

Sachi Sri Kanthain Ilankai Tamil Sangam, 9 February 2014, … http://sangam.org/stanley-jeyaraja-tambiah-1929-2014/

tambiah-pic-11 “In 1958, while I was leading a research team composed of university undergraduates, all of whom were Sinhalese, that were engaged in a sociological study of peasant colonization in Gal Oya, ethnic riots unexpectedly broke out in our midst, and at Amparai, Sinhalese public workers went on the rampage in hijacked trucks, attacking Tamil shopkeepers and Tamil peasant colonists. My students, very solicitous for my safety, insisted that I stay behind closed doors while they stood guard. And I was later hidden in a truck, and spirited out of the valley to Batticaloa, a safe Tamil area. That experience was traumatic: it was the first time the ethnic divide was so forcibly thrust into my existence. And intuitively reading the signs, I wished to get away from the island, for I experienced a mounting alienation and a sense of being homeless in one’s own home.” …… Tambiah SJ (1997) a rejoinder to ‘Buddhism Betrayed’ book review by Sasanka Perera

Tambiah SJ (1997) on 1983 ethnic riots in Sri Lanka

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Tambiah’s Contemporary Account of the Gal-Oya Riots of 1956: for Vice-Chancellor Attygalle

Stanley J. Tambiah

In writing about the Gal Oya riots, it would not be possible to give a meaningful and chronological account of the happenings if one were to confine oneself to only what one saw with one’s own eyes. I am taking the liberty of presenting an account based on direct knowledge as well as indirect information elicited from persons. However I shall carefully specify and differentiate between statements based on events witnessed by me and statements based on accounts given by others in the valley at the time of the riots. Care will be taken to state the sources of the facts narrated.

sj-tambiahTambiah sir_nicholas_attygalle_photo-210x300 Attygalle

The Gal Oya disturbance cannot of course be treated as an isolated phenomenon. It must be viewed in the general context of communal tensions and political differences existing in the country and also as a continuation of disturbances that started in Colombo during and after June fifth. The account given here however deals only with incidents that happened in the Eastern Province. Continue reading

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The LLRC Sittings in Pictures

The recent presentation in Thuppahi of a specific proposal from the LLRC on national anthems as well as the issues raised by Thuppahi on the topic of DISAPPEARANCES prompt me to present a number of images from the sittings conducted by this peripatic body of personnel together with a brief officla report. the images have been helpfully provided by Kithsiri De Silva an old Aloysian class-mate who was an officer servicing the work of this august body.  I am also tacking on an official report on the LLRC plus one dissenting note about its lopsided composition from Harshadeva Amarathunga. Michael Roberts

llrc-1

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LLRC advocated Bilingual National Anthem and Other Cultural Paths towards Reconciliation

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National Anthem

8.291 Several views were expressed concerning the use of the National Anthem as a unifying factor, and in bringing about greater understanding among the communities. One view was that it would be advisable to reflect the two national languages policy by symbolically introducing at least two lines in Tamil to the National Anthem.172 It was pointed out that this would be a major step towards healing the wounds of the past.

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Disappearing Burgher and Malay Surnames in Island Lanka

Tuan M. Zameer Careem,  initially extracted from  https://sirimunasiha.wordpress.com/about/sinhala-names-through-out-the-ages/rare-ethnic-surnames/ where the title reads “Rare Ethnic Surnames” … but I have since been informed that Mr Careem published it in Ceylon Today . Since it has received a record number of hits over the last two days, Careem can be well pleased.

The multi ethnic Sri Lankan society has since recent decades witnessed
innumerable changes and many of the most notable ethnic communities are now
on the brink of extinction, with the population dwindling to a noble
handful. Some of the most colourful surnames that once stood as a beacon to
help distinguish the ethnic backgrounds of locals have now gone into abeyance.
The ethnographers are of the opinion that the frequent intermarriages with
members of the prominent ethnic groups and the death of male line descendants
have gradually airbrushed the identities of many minorities. It is sad to
note that there is hardly any material written on the subject of Lankan
Onomatology. However, it is unmistakably clear that many of the Lankan
patronymics and surnames have European roots.

burghhers-11 Pic from www.burghersuk.com

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The National Anthem as Spearhead in Steps towards Reconciliation

Michael Roberts

On the 24th July 2016 I sent a Memorandum to one of my friends who was located in the administrative heart of the present government’s programme directed towards conceiving schemes in support of ethnic reconciliation. I do not have any idea whether it reached pertinent quarters or if it lies buried in some desk. Note that this memorandum contained the bibliographical references that are attached at the end.  I now place it in the public realm for critical commentary. The version here is embellished with a few alterations [in brackets]as well as some hyperlinks and images. Footnotes 4 & 5 are also additions.

ethnic-amity  ethnic-unitytamils-and-i-day தமிழில் சிறிலங்காவின் தேசிய கீதம் பாடப்பட்டபோது சம்பந்தன் கண்களில் கண்ணீர் – ஊர்ப் புதினம் – க

It is a commonplace in reviews of the ethnic conflict at the popular level of web comment for the blame to be heaped on our politicians in the past, and particularly on SWRD Bandaranaike. This is over-simplistic. Such processes are complex and demand a multi-factorial analysis. Continue reading

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Situating Clarance’s Book: Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis

Michael Roberts, reprinted from South Asia, Sept 2008, 31: 394-96, a review of Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis (London: Pluto Press, and Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2007), 296 pp.

This is an unusual book and essential reading for those interested in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. William Clarance was head of UNHCR’s relief mission in Sri Lanka from 1989 to 1992. He kept a diary and has waited until he had left the arena of international administration before recounting his riveting experiences in the field. 

aa-ethnic-warfare-in-sri-lanka-and-the-un-crisis  His brief in Sri Lanka was to cater to the needs of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India who had chosen to return to their homeland. In practice, however, the local UNHCR’s efforts also embraced some local refugees (IDPs, or ‘internally displaced people’), whether Tamil, Muslim or Sinhalese, who were the flotsam and jetsam generated by the warring turmoil in the island. Clarance sets the pursuit of this venture within its historical context by outlining the temporal stages in the escalation of hostility between leading Tamil and Sinhalese political forces. This competent summary is complemented by a description of the Indian intervention in 1987 and a capsule survey of the events in the period 1987–89, the immediate background to the UNHCR relief efforts.  Continue reading

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