Michael Roberts, a reprint of an article published originally in Comparative Studies in Society and History 1985, vol. 27: 401-429. which is also available in in M. Roberts, Exploring Confrontation, (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994). **
Some recent essays on the relationship between history on the one hand and anthropology and/or sociology on the other concentrate on the differences in the material with which the typical practitioner deals and the types of issues likely to be addressed (Thompson 1972, 1976, 1977; Davis 1981). They have tended to compare the perspectives that anthropologists and historians bring into their work. And both E. P. Thompson and Natalie Z. Davis advocate increasing mutual borrowing from each discipline: they wish the one discipline to deepen its sensitivity and to avoid the usual pitfalls by drawing on the strengths of the other. Thus, by way of illustration, one finds Thompson arguing that historians tend to be more attentive to the paradoxes and ambivalences of actual men, and that they are attuned to the discipline of context because of this attentiveness to heterogeneity, a strength which sociologists—who, he says, tend to overgeneralize and to swallow heterogeneity through the manufacture of neat typologies—would be well advised to draw upon (1976: 387,394). Continue reading
Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, disparagement, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, patriotism, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, world events & processes
The Routledge Flier: Using careful historical research and analysis of policy documents, this book explains the origin and evolution of the political conflict in Sri Lanka over the struggle to establish a separate state in its Northern and Eastern Provinces. The conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the secessionist LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is one of the world’s most intractable contemporary armed struggles. The internationally banned LTTE is considered the prototype of modern terrorism. It is known to have introduced suicide bombing to the world, and recently became the first terrorist organization ever to acquire an air force. The book argues that the Sri Lankan conflict cannot be adequately understood from the dominant bipolar analysis that sees it as a primordial ethnic conflict between the Sinhala majority and the Tamil minority. The book broadens the discourse providing a multipolar analysis of the complex interplay of political-economic and cultural forces at the local, regional and international levels including the roles of India and the international community. Overall, the book presents a conceptual framework useful for comparative global conflict analysis and resolution, shedding light on a host of complex issues such as terrorism, civil society, diasporas, international intervention and secessionism.
Filed under accountability, British colonialism, constitutional amendments, democratic measures, devolution, discrimination, economic processes, education policy, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, JVP, landscape wondrous, law of armed conflict, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, NGOs, parliamentary elections, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, security, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, suicide bombing, Tamil civilians, Tamil migration, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, terrorism, tolerance, vengeance, war reportage, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes
Ethnic Conflict in Buddhist Societies in South and Southeast Asia. The Politics behind Religious Rivalries, edited by K.M. de Silva, 2015 (pp. 270 +xvi)
The book aims to examine the role of Buddhism as a factor of conflict in the three main Theravada Buddhist societies of South and Southeast Asia—Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar. The dispute in this island had engaged the attention of Sri Lanka’s political class for the two previous decades, while political analysts from Sri Lanka and others from various parts of the world examined the impact of Buddhism on the Sri Lanka polity and the prolonged ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The situation in Thailand and Myanmar provided a convenient comparative basis in the reviews and in the literature in these three Buddhist societies. Continue reading
Filed under centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, heritage, Hinduism, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, Islamic fundamentalism, landscape wondrous, language policies, legal issues, life stories, literary achievements, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, religious nationalism, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, truth as casualty of war, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes
ONE: Al-Jazeera Item, “Sri Lanka; Buddhist leader stokes anti-Muslim tension,” May 2017,
A manhunt is on in Sri Lanka for a hard-line Buddhist leader after a series of attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses that authorities accuse him of encouraging. President Maithripala Siresena had vowed to investigate anti-Muslim hate crimes after assuming power in 2015, however, attacks have escalated over the past two weeks. Another Muslim shop in the town of Kahawatte was reportedly burned to the ground this week by unidentified attackers.
Galaboda atththe Gnansaara Thero
Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General-Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara has encouraged his Buddhist supporters to lead another campaign against Muslims following the deadly Aluthgama riots in June 2014, which attempted to create disunity between Buddhists and Muslims. Less than 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 20 million are Muslim. The majority are Sinhalese Buddhist, while most Tamils are Hindu.
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Joe Simpson, in a review of GALLE AS QUIET AS ASLEEP penned in 2006
Never to be confused with the American best-selling romance novelist of the same name, Norah Roberts, who survived well into her nineties, was born near Colombo in 1907, one of fourteen children from several marriages of T. W. Roberts, an Anglo-Barbadian Ceylon Civil Servant, Oxford scholar and cricketer par excellence who became District Judge in Galle. After severe hearing loss in her late twenties drove her from teaching, Norah ran the Galle Fort Library (est. 1871) for four decades until she retired in 1982. I clearly remember first meeting Norah, then in her late sixties, one hot and humid morning in September 1973 when, as a newly-arrived V.S.O. English teacher at Richmond College, I paid my dues to become a member of the quaint old library on Church Street, next to the Fort Post Office. (Judge Roberts, then still alive in his nineties, had long migrated to England). It was only a couple of years before she finally “retired” in her mid-seventies that the tireless Norah (who never married) began her self-appointed Herculean task, never before attempted, of writing the “compleat” history of Galle from its earliest days. It would dominate the next ten years of her life.
Galle in the 1890s — a rare image in the Australian National Gallery Collection, Canberra
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