Category Archives: Left politics

Nationalist Studies and the Ceylon Studies Seminar at Peradeniya, 1968-1970s

Michael Roberts

The years 1966 to 1975 were heady days in Ceylon. Especially so for some of us in Peradeniya Univeristy where the CEYLON STUDIES SEMINAR was launched in November 1968 by a few members of the Arts Faculty assisted by the facilities provided by Professor Gananath Obeyesekera at the Sociology Department – located then on Lower Hantane Road away from the centre of teaching. Not least among these facilities was the service provided by the Sociology Department peon Sathiah[i] who cyclostyled the written seminar papers beforehand for circulation so that those who were keen could read any presentation beforehand if they so wished – a procedure that also maximized discussion time. This background service was seconded by the typing services of Mrs Hettiarachchi in the History Department and Mr Kumaraswamy in the Sociology Department.

A . Jeyaratnam Wilson  Gananath Obeyesekera

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Anagārika Dharmapāla: In Search of a Rounded Evaluation

Michael Roberts, courtesy of The Sunday Island 16 September 2018

Recently an anonymous hand writing as “A Dharmapala Devotee” presented a sarcastic opinion piece in the Island of the 5th September targeting myself, Gananath Obeyesekere and HL Seneviratne. My immediate response was short and rushed. This essay is a more considered set of comments.

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Revelations: Oppression of the Dalits in India via A Family History

Tariq  Ali’s essay entitled THE UNSEEABLES  in the London Review of Books Vol. 40 No. 16 · 30 August 2018   …. reviewing  Ants among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla Daunt, 341 pp, £14.99, May, ISBN 978 1 911547 20 4

  

This is a family biography that encompasses a history rarely told: despite its longevity, caste, and caste oppression, is not a popular theme in India. Sujatha Gidla writes of poisoned lives, of disillusionment, betrayed hopes, unrequited loves, attempted escapes through alcohol and sex. What distinguishes her book is its rich mix of sociology, anthropology, history, literature and politics.

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Potency, Power and People in Groups– British Ceylon to Modern Times via Pictures

  Penance on road, Sri Maurpthy Pathirikaali Temple, 2009

This book is both a display and a reflective exercise on the power of imagery, whether from camera or painting or etching. Images can be as captivating as seductive as misleading.  They can serve as raw data that provides glimpses of facets of life lost to the modern generations. They must, of course, be deployed by social scientists with attention to context and in association with other forms of data.

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Creeping Neo-liberal Stranglehold on Sri Lanka

Tamara Kunanayakam, from Island, in Three Parts with title Sri LankJune 2018, an sovereignty, non-negotiable!”

Sri Lankan sovereignty – its supremacy in domestic policy and its independence in foreign policy – is under a two-pronged attack. In Sri Lanka, the neoliberals seek physical appropriation of territory and all that it contains, targeting the very substance of sovereignty and independence – the inalienable right of the people to full and permanent sovereignty, including possession, use and disposal, over all their wealth, natural resources and economic activities. Without permanent sovereignty, there can be no independent domestic or foreign policy; without it, independence and sovereignty are but empty shells.

 

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Sri Lanka’s Political Swamp, Gotabhaya and the Viyath Maga Tamasha: A Critical Evaluation

Rajan Philips, in The Island, 26 May 2018, where the title is  The Shangri La tamasha: Neither presidential nor parliamentary, it’s Port City politics now

After a week in Cuba, I am late in gate-crashing the Shangri La party, the onset of the newest political tamasha in town. Calling it a tamasha is not to belittle the political potency of the event, but to highlight its ideational bankruptcy. No one took Donald Trump seriously when he slid down his gilded Trump Tower escalator, in January 2016, and announced his candidacy to become President of the United States of America. Look where he landed before the year was over and where he is dragging by its nose the world’s so called sole superpower. The Sri Lankan contrast is glaring.

GR making Viyath Maga speech at Shangri La

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May 28, 2018 · 2:38 pm

How It Became. Documenting the Ceylon National Congress

Michael Roberts

   BU4A8624 (1) Haris de Silva

The four volume Documents of the Ceylon National Congress produced by the Department of National Archives in 1977 runs into 3208 pages. In keeping with bureaucratic rigidity, the four volumes are still sold at some Rs 250. The give-away price has not enabled it to reach the public. The treasure trove of documentary data within these four volumes –  encompassing LSSP and Communist Party meetings in their early days — remain unknown and unseen. How many scholars, let alone armchair historians, know that FC “Derek” de Saram, Oxford Blue and Ceylonese cricketer of note, was among the ginger group (identified as “Young Turks” by me as the editor of the documents) who attempted to rejuvenate the CNC in 1938/39 by converting it into a party that could contest elections?[1] Continue reading

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