Category Archives: nationalism

Anguish as Empowerment … and A Path to Retribution

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where it is presented with a different title ….  https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/histrionic-voice-as-spark-for-ethnic-violence-political-extremism/

Anguish and grief are powerful emotions that can contort and wrack a body. While ‘suggesting’ helplessness, the anguish that engulfs a person can also empower that person … and others connected to that person by commonalities of interest/emotion. In this manner anguish can transcend obstacles, generate waves of bitterness and swell into paths of retributory hate and punishment. The ‘little’ drops of tears can swell metaphorically into ‘waves’ – and even inspire enraged mobs (mostly male) bent on punishing the purported root of the tears, a recalcitrant Other, an enemy family or “community” deemed to be the cause of that expressive anguish or deemed to have transcended local norms. In southern Lanka that community can be a neighbouring caste grouping or ethnic group or religious group (Muslim Moor,[1] Hindu, Buddhist, Christian).

Let me highlight the argument by presenting an unusual juxtaposition.

  1. Expressive Grief displayed by a Sri Lankan Tamil woman at a protest demonstration before David Cameron by persons whose kin have been missing in the course of Eelam War IV

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under authoritarian regimes, Buddhism, communal relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian religions, Indian traditions, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, nationalism, political demonstrations, politIcal discourse, power politics, reconciliation, religiosity, religious nationalism, riots and pogroms, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, vengeance, violence of language, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes

Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE www.lrb.co.uk

prabha-with-pistol-2   prabha-tiger

Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907

Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4

The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0

Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”[1] Continue reading

Leave a comment

February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

The National Anthem as Spearhead in Steps towards Reconciliation

Michael Roberts

On the 24th July 2016 I sent a Memorandum to one of my friends who was located in the administrative heart of the present government’s programme directed towards conceiving schemes in support of ethnic reconciliation. I do not have any idea whether it reached pertinent quarters or if it lies buried in some desk. Note that this memorandum contained the bibliographical references that are attached at the end.  I now place it in the public realm for critical commentary. The version here is embellished with a few alterations [in brackets]as well as some hyperlinks and images. Footnotes 4 & 5 are also additions.

ethnic-amity  ethnic-unitytamils-and-i-day தமிழில் சிறிலங்காவின் தேசிய கீதம் பாடப்பட்டபோது சம்பந்தன் கண்களில் கண்ணீர் – ஊர்ப் புதினம் – க

It is a commonplace in reviews of the ethnic conflict at the popular level of web comment for the blame to be heaped on our politicians in the past, and particularly on SWRD Bandaranaike. This is over-simplistic. Such processes are complex and demand a multi-factorial analysis. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under communal relations, cultural transmission, ethnicity, governance, heritage, nationalism, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, tolerance, world affairs

Anthropology and History in the Mix in Political Analysis

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.

aa-reddy-33

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.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

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

HRW in Syria and Sri Lanka: Moral Fervour generating Political Blindness and Partisanship

Michael Roberts,  courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where the title is different and reads as “The Political Bankruptcy of the Western Human Rights Lobby: Their Stance in Syria & Sri Lanka in Juxtaposition.” I anticipate lively blog-comments therein –with the usual quota of disparaging ‘assassinations’.  Highlighted emphasis in RED in the version below is my work.

 A friend in Adelaide recently directed me towards an article in a prestigious world media outlet by Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. In this essay entitled “What Trump Should Do in Syria,” Roth contends that Donald Trump needs to pursue “a much tougher approach toward Moscow than he so far envisions” because the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been “targeting and indiscriminately firing upon civilians and civilian infrastructure in opposition-held areas” with Russian backing. In his reading the enormous civilian death-toll is the product of the regime’s deliberate strategy, Besides generating an outflow of refugees, he says that the consequence will also produce an escalation of Islamist extremism. 

As an outsider with a limited knowledge of the extremely complex Syrian and Middle-Eastern ground situation, what strikes me about Roth’s declamation is its one-sidedness and its simplifications. It slides over the impact of US and NATO bombing runs. It implies that the extremism of ISIS, Al Qaida and other forces who are challenging the Syrian dictator is an outcome of the latter’s policies and says little about (a) the Sunni-Shia rivalries that are one aspect of the complex politics in Syria and the Middle East and (b) the repercussions flowing from the American dethronement of Saddam via invasion.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under american imperialism, arab regimes, atrocities, authoritarian regimes, cultural transmission, gordon weiss, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, landscape wondrous, law of armed conflict, life stories, LTTE, Middle Eastern Politics, military strategy, nationalism, news fabrication, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil migration, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, vengeance, war crimes, war reportage, world events & processes

Kumari Jayawardena and her Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World

Meera Srinivasan, courtesy of The Hindu, 1 January 2017, where the title is ‘There was a gap about our part of the world’

The first draft, Kumari Jayawardena remembers, was all jagged. She wrote it on train journeys between The Hague where she was teaching and Brussels where she was living then. It was the early 1980s. As a visiting scholar at the International Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands, Jayawardena was preparing course material for the women and development programme she co-taught. The short manuscript later became the classic book, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World. [Verso Books] The work is still considered a primer to understanding feminist movements in Asia and West Asia through specific struggles of women fighting against colonial powers, for education, suffrage and safety, and against poverty and inequality.

kumari-j Kumari today

feminism-and-nationalism-in-the-third-world 

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, historical interpretation, island economy, Left politics, life stories, modernity & modernization, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, women in ethnic conflcits, working class conditions, world events & processes

Two Sri Lankan Tamil Voices from the North Today

Frances Bulathsinghala, courtesy of Daily FT, 5 August 2016, where the title reads “Post-war voices from the north.” The emphases in highlighted colours, however, are additions by The Editor, Thuppahi

Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu: Rajini is 46 years old and an ex-LTTE Commander with a 10-year-old daughter. She is a widow. She has few visitors. Tamil politicians are rarely among them.  Occasionally she chases off military officers who enter her premises in her absence and make themselves at home for hours in her garden. She flies into a rage at them. She informs them that they have no right to enter her garden in her absence. They accept, grin, make some lame excuses and good-naturedly lope off after the cursory examination of the military reference documentation that is as important for ex-militants in post-war times as it was for civilians in peace times. 

It is peace. At least there is no gunfire now. Of the memories of fire that continue to burn in hearts and minds we do not know.

fb-ranjini

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, Eelam, ethnicity, female empowerment, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, IDP camps, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, literary achievements, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, tolerance, trauma, truth as casualty of war, war crimes, war reportage