Muralidhar Reddy, in Frontline, Vol 26/20, Sep. 26-Oct. 09, 2009, a review article
Michael Roberts’ collection of essays on Sri Lankan identity is a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere polluted by callous accounts.
SRI LANKA, a country of 20 million-odd people of distinct identities, is witnessing a series of momentous events in the post-Prabakaran period. Michael Roberts’ latest book is a collection of 13 analytical essays, most of them written by him an d others edited by him, on the much-debated issues of collective “Sri Lankan identity” and the cultural roots and ideology of the majority Sinhala and minority Tamil nationalisms, and a detailed study of the projects of Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), a staunch Sinhala Buddhist who made a conscious effort to swim against the tide and launched a full-throated campaign against British rule and Christian missionaries.
Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, economic processes, electoral structures, ethnicity, historical interpretation, language policies, life stories, LTTE, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, riots and pogroms, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes, zealotry
Lionel Bopage, in The Island, 10 April 2002, reviewing article entitled Sinhala-ness and Sinhala Nationalism by Michael Roberts (see details below)
Current conflict in Sri Lanka is explicable by nothing less than an analysis of Sri Lanka’s entire history. But “all history becomes subjective; in other words, there is properly no history; only biography. Every mind must know the whole lesson for itself,” says Emerson. In his article “Sinhala-ness and Sinhala Nationalism” Dr. Michael Roberts presents a broad but concise ‘culturalogical’ perspective of the development of Sinhala consciousness between the 16th and 20th centuries. This helps us to better understand today’s events in Sri Lanka that are mostly justified in the name of history and culture.
There was a continuing force of oral story telling and poetry among Sinhala people until the mid-twentieth century. However, faced with the task of superimposing capitalism on a feudal (or Asiatic type) set-up, the British colonialists proceeded with building infrastructure needed for the capitalist economy, bringing the country under one administration and making English the language of administration. Against this background, Michael explains how various communities such as Burghers, Jas, Yons and Ceylon Tamils came to occupy niches in that socio-economic order.
Filed under British colonialism, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, language policies, modernity & modernization, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, racist thinking, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, world events & processes, zealotry
A chance event led me to study the comments responding to “Sinhala Mind-Set,” one of the signature ‘tunes’ introducing my web-site thuppahi.wordpress.com – the other being WHY THUPPAHI. The present collection of responses has been cast in spasmodic fashion between 2009 and 2013. They are from Sri Lankans for the most part, with Mel Glickman, Jane Russell and one “Duque” being the only personnel outside this specific ‘embrace’ of nationality. Several facets of the information and thinking inscribed in these comments are pertinent to the situation facing Sri Lanka in the 2010s. I have therefore presented them again with significant segments highlighted to assist or stir readers, while proceeding to add reflections of my own in this companion piece. The aim is to promote provoke debate.
Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, devolution, discrimination, economic processes, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, island economy, language policies, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, racist thinking, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, rehabilitation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes