Category Archives: immigration

A Historical ‘Cuppa’ of Ceylon Tea

Ceylon Tea: The Trade That Made a Nation

The Colombo Tea Traders’ Association will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Ceylon tea on July 20th with the launch of an illustrated history entitled Ceylon Tea: The Trade That Made a Nation. This art-quality large-format illustrated book has been authored by Richard Simon with Dominic Sansoni as Illustrations Editor, while the design has been fashioned by Sebastian Posingis. Continue reading

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Bomb Blast as Ideological Assertion

Raffaello Pantucci, courtesy of The Telegraph, 23 May 2017, where the title isCars and knives are easier to use, but bombs will always be central to terrorist thinking” **

Terrorism has a predictable brutality to it. And yet, the idea of a bombing is something that still surprises us when it happens. The attack in Manchester in some ways appears a flashback to a different time when the terrorists we worried about detonated bombs, rather than using vehicles as rams or stabbing people. The reality is that terrorism’s only constant is its desire to shock and kill. For any group or ideology, the fundamental point is to make yourself heard as dramatically as possible. Groups and individuals will use whatever tools they have to gain that attention.

 The successful use of a bomb is unusual among recent terror attacks CREDIT: JOEL GOODMAN/LNP

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Footsteps across Continents: Hedi Simon and the Stadlens of Austria and Britain

Matthew Stadlen, in The Telegraph, 11 November 2013, where the title is “Family history: retracing the steps of a romance disrupted by war”

In 1938 my grandfather, the pianist Peter Stadlen, was returning to his native Austria from a concert tour of Ireland when he happened to meet a girl on the ferry home. As a result he caught a cold from chatting to her on deck, and had to stop over in Amsterdam. The fates were with him, because the following day – 75 years ago – the Nazis marched into Austria; Peter was a secular Jew. He was able to communicate with his mother and sister, who were still in Vienna, and urge them to leave by the next train to Holland. From there, all three made it to London as refugees, and that is where my family has been based ever since. They were lucky.

 Hedi Simon … also known as Heidi Keuneman before her second marriage to Peter Stadlen

My great-great-uncle, known as Onkl Friedl, did not escape. He was one of the very first to die at the hands of the Gestapo when they moved into Vienna. He had been chief economic adviser to pre-Nazi Chancellors of Austria, and was immediately put under house arrest. A paraplegic, he always kept cyanide in his ring in case he should ever be caught in a fire, unable to escape. He tricked the Nazi guards into leaving his room and took the poison. I have red hair but neither of my parents do: Onkl Friedl was a redhead and I’ve always believed it comes from him.

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Professional Mourners in Ceylon and Southern India

Michael Roberts

 My interest in the topic of disappearances in Sri Lanka over the past decade and the allegations presented by one “Floyyd” in his comments on my central frontispiece named ”Sinhala Mind-Set” on the 25th November 2013 led me to supplement my posts and inquiries on that topic with a serious question I sent to several friends and personnel on  the 9th December 2016 and the week that followed.  Only a few responded to my inquiry in the course of that month. It is of some significance that most of those whose information is presented below are of the older generation and, like me, in the age-bracket seventies. For that reason they are calling upon their younger days in supplying ethnographic information that is of considerable value. For this reason I refer to “Ceylon” in my title because the data seems to refer to practices before the name change in 1972. However, this does not mean that the practitioners of mourning and the capacities for lamentation on cue have been totally buried.

oppari-22  Women in oppari lamentation in southern India — cf Balachandran’s note below oppariFrom https://www.flickr.com/photos/wellbredkannanclicks/14228110375

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Migrant Crisis ignited West’s Populist Revolt

David Aaronovitch, courtesy of The Times, 17  November 2016 & The Australian, 17  November 2016, with the former bearing the title The West has only itself to blame for populist revolt”

At the time of his death, Alan Kurdi seemed to be a harbinger of something else. Washed up on a Turkish beach last year, his lifeless body symbolised a suffering that could no longer be ignored. This tragic consequence of mass migration, mostly involving Syrians fleeing the civil war, was going to be the moment when a conscience-pricked world would do something to help. No more – Alan has an altogether different significance now. The insurgencies that gave us Brexit and the Trump presidency have gestated over many years. But the proximate cause of both, I believe, was not economics or wage inequalities but the events of 2015.

migrant-dead A Turkish paramilitary police officer carries the body of Alan Kurdi, 3. Picture: AP

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Reflections on Trump’s Victory: How Come and What Follows

S W R de A Samarasinghe,  of Tulane University, Washington DC, courtesy of The Island, 11 November 2016, with the title   What Trump’s victory means for US and rest of the world

US President-elect Donald Trump described his presidential campaign as a “Movement” and not the usual party fight between Republicans and Democrats. The poltical pundits did not take him seriously. He broke almost all the rules of the US campaign rulebook and won. Trump and Hillary Clinton each have polled about 59.5 million of the popular vote while Trump has won the 538 Electoral College vote 299.5 to 238.5. Trump’s “Movement” mainly consisted of white blue-collar middle class voters drawn from suburbs, and small towns and rural residents. In contrast Clinton’s support came mainly from a coalition that consisted of more educated and more prosperous white middle class suburbs, and racial minorities mostly from the big cities.

aa-trump-11

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European Mayhem in World War Two and Their Refugees in the Middle East

Ishaan Tharoor, in The Washington Post, where the chosen title is “The forgotten story of European refugee camps in the Middle East”

Tens of thousands of refugees fled a war. They journeyed across the Eastern Mediterranean, a trip filled with peril. But the promise of sanctuary on the other side was too great. No, this is not the plight faced by Syrian refugees, desperate to escape the desolation of their homeland and find a safer, better life in Europe. Rather, it’s the curious and now mostly forgotten case of thousands of people from Eastern Europe and the Balkans who were housed in a series of camps across the Middle East, including in Syria, during World War II.

aa-fs11As the Nazi and Soviet war machines rolled through parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, vast civilian populations were displaced in their wake. In areas occupied by fascist troops, Jewish communities and other undesired minorities faced the harshest onslaught, but others, particularly those suspected of backing partisan fighters, also were subject to targeted attacks and forced evacuations. Continue reading

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