Category Archives: language policies

A Review of the Book BUDDHISM TRANSFORMED

Premkumara De Silva,** in The Midweek Review of The Island, 17 May 2005, where the title runs ” Anthropology of ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ “

The disciplinary identification of “Buddhism” in Sri Lanka as an anthropological object began in the late 1950s as part of a growing field of “peasant” or village studies in South and Southeast Asian societies. In Sri Lanka, the work of Gananath Obeyesekere, Edmond Leach, Michael Ames, and Nur Yalman is central to this inaugural moment. These anthropologists have identified the integration of the diverse beliefs and practices of Sinhala Buddhists within a religious worldview that is in accordance with fundamental Theravada Buddhist teachings. Within this academic exercise Obeyesekere insisted on the term “Sinhalese Buddhism” to convey the idea of full variety of religious practice, popular and esoteric, in Sri Lankan Buddhism. He argues that Sinhala Buddhism should be seen as “a single religious tradition”, and not as composed of separate “layers” to be analysed in isolation from each other.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under British colonialism, Buddhism, communal relations, cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, literary achievements, modernity & modernization, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, sri lankan society, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Buddhism over Time in Colonial and Independent Sri Lanka

Abstract of Article by Ananda Abeysekara entitledBuddhism and ‘Influence’: The Temporality of a Concept” Qui Parle, 2019, Vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 1-75.

For almost three decades the concept of “Protestant Buddhism” has been the object of critique by numerous scholars such as John Holt, Charles Hallisey, Anne Blackburn, Erik Braun, Alicia Turner, Steven Kemper, and others. They claim to tell a different story about the relation between religion and modernity (“Protestantism”) in South Asia. By extension, these scholars seek to reconstruct the temporal relation between the past and the present, questioning postcolonial conceptions of history, time, and religious practice. But this story of temporality is staked on the question of “influence,” which has a genealogy that includes not just colonial, missionary, liberal politics but also contemporary legal-political questions about foreign influence on democracy and sovereignty. This article contests the ways in which the critiques of Protestant Buddhism conceptualize colonial and postcolonial forms of time, translated into universal forms of self, agency, responsibility, etc. The article argues that the question of influence, which animates parts of the story of secular ways of inhabiting time, obscures not just how the encounter with the temporality of a tradition is an encounter with power. It obscures how even modern sensibilities of inhabiting time, ironically, require coherence even as they are repeatedly said to be constituted by “heterogeneous” forms of everyday life.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under British colonialism, Buddhism, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, language policies, Left politics, life stories, nationalism, politIcal discourse, religiosity, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

Fighting LTTE Women …. Looking Back from 2016

Kim Wall and Mansi Choksi, in Longreads, May 2018 where the title is “A Chance to Rewrite History: The Women Fighters of the Tamil Tigers” …… How during a brutal, 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers failed the women soldiers who sacrificed everything to fight for a sovereign state for the Tamil minority [with a NOTE from the Editor, Thuppahi at the end]

“We went on our first reporting trip together to write about an emerging Chinatown in Kampala in 2015,” says Mansi. “And then the next year, I moved to New York, where she was living, so we would spend our afternoons working together.” Mansi and Kim traveled to Sri Lanka in 2016. Mansi recalls Kim’s dedication to telling the story of the women who fought with the Tamil Tigers during Sri Lanka’s brutal, 25-year civil war. “Kim genuinely fell in love with the women we were writing about,” says Mansi. “You can hear it in her voice, in the tapes of our interviews.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under communal relations, Fascism, female empowerment, gender norms, governance, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, mass conscription, military strategy, modernity & modernization, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, propaganda, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, women in ethnic conflcits, working class conditions, world events & processes, zealotry

Missing the Boat. How Religio-Political Divisions have Deepened

A Letter from Rohan De Soysa in Colombo to Michael Roberts in Adelaide, 9th May 2019

I’d like to suggest a different angle. We have a Minister for Buddhist religious affairs, another for Hindu religious affairs, yet another for Muslim religious affairs and still another for Christian religious affairs.  Then there are Governors for the various provinces: Eastern Province, Western Province, Northern Province, Southern Province etc.  They have been provided deputy ministers, offices, staff, bodyguards, cell phones and vehicles, etc.

Should they not monitor and observe any untoward teachings and undesirable tendencies in what comes under their purview, namely places of worship and education, catering to their specialized religions? Why did they not do so? Isn’t it about time they did?

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under accountability, arab regimes, authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, education, electoral structures, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Islamic fundamentalism, island economy, jihad, landscape wondrous, language policies, legal issues, life stories, Middle Eastern Politics, Muslims in Lanka, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

How Extremisms have fed off Each Other in Sri Lanka, 1950s-to-2019 …. and still proceeding

Ameer  Ali, in Colombo Telegraph, 6 May 2019 where the title runs “Anatomy Of An Islamist Infamy – II”

It takes two hands to clap and make a noise, and what a deadly noise did Sri Lankans hear during that fatal Easter Sunday? In the first part of this analysis the Muslim leadership hand was identified and discussed. This second part looks at the hand of governments that governed this country since independence and how they laid the remainder of the bricks that paved the bloody road. 

Politicisation of Buddhism  

Long before Ashraf and his SLMC allowed Islamism creep into Muslim politics, Bandaranaike (SWRD) politicised Buddhism to win his electoral battle against the UNP.  His landslide victory at the 1956 General Elections to which he harnessed the support of Buddhist monks, Ayurvedic physicians and village school teachers demonstrated the political potential of Buddhism in changing governments in Sri Lanka, which even made American CIA to politicise Buddhism in South East Asia to fight against the rise of communism (Eugene Ford, Cold War Monks, 2017). While SWRD won the elections and lost his life at the hands of a Buddhist monk the Americans harnessed Buddhism and lost the fight against communism in Vietnam and Cambodia.      Sri Lankans, Let Us Arise as ONE

Sri Lanka Muslim Civil Society was organized a “Rise up for Solidarity – Humanity Beyond Religion one Nation one Country at Colombo 7 Independence Squire-04th May | Picture by Ashraff. A. Samad

7 Comments

Filed under accountability, communal relations, conspiracies, democratic measures, economic processes, electoral structures, ethnicity, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Islamic fundamentalism, language policies, life stories, nationalism, political demonstrations, politIcal discourse, power politics

The Demons within Sri Lanka: Long-Term Methods of Abatement?

Michael Roberts

Here I reproduce the second half of a longer article presented in October 2018 where I pinpointed the hidden dangers to Sri Lanka resting within the implications of Mark Field’s visit to the island then — a conveying a message that was one part of the continuing Western nation-cum-UNHCR project to punish Sri Lanka and foist a devolutionary political system on the island. Obviously, this essay was coined before the explosive manifestation of another divisive time-bomb within the Sri Lankan body politic: that of Islamic extremists motivated by the Wahhabi ideology hostile to specific ‘pinnacles’ in any Westernized body politic – such as (a) the Papacy and (b) high-rise hotels marking wealth and ‘debauchery’.**

This traumatic moment on Easter Sunday 21st April 2019 reminds us of two earth shattering moments: the LTTE attack on the Central Bank in Colombo on 31st January 1996 and the Al-Qaida attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 9th September 2001 (9/11 in shorthand).***

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Al Qaeda, atrocities, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, conspiracies, cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, landscape wondrous, language policies, legal issues, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, reconciliation, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, suicide bombing, Tamil Tiger fighters, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, world events & processes

Amarasingham’s Study of Sri Lankan Tamil Activism in Canada

 

Pain, Pride, and Politics: Social Movement Activism and the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada …. As a product of Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation Series) Paperback – September 15, 2015

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, asylum-seekers, atrocities, authoritarian regimes, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, education, electoral structures, ethnicity, foreign policy, fundamentalism, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, language policies, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, military strategy, modernity & modernization, nationalism, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, religiosity, riots and pogroms, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil migration, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, world events & processes, zealotry