Category Archives: nationalism

Universal Suffrage in Ceylon and Lanka from 1931-81

Kingsley M de Silva’s edited collection of articles on Universal Suffrage … has been  a neglected work . As Sri Lanka struggles today and as many cast reviews on the island’s history perhaps this event in 1831 and its repercussions should receive more incisive attention from analysts. Apart from KM de Silva himself, the authors include RA Ariayaratne, CR De Silva, Tilaka Metthananda, Vijaya Samaraweera, SWR de Samarasinghe, Neelan Tiruchelvam and AJ Wilson …. by and large a Peradeniya University consortium.

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Dharmapala, Banda and Gunadasa as Central Figures in Dissection of Nationalist Authenticity

Harshana Rambukwella

Let’s begin with the book title. Why is it called ‘The politics and poetics of authenticity’? 

The title refers to the central theme of the book. It is primarily about why we think certain cultural practices are more authentic than others. How do such ideas come about? And what are the political implications of such notions of authenticity and what are the cultural and aesthetic implications of these notions as well? The poetics in the title refer to the second aspect of culture and aesthetics.

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February 4th 1948: “We Are Independent and One”

Sajitha Prematunge, in Island. 4 February 2019, with Pics by Jude Denzil Pathiraja and title reading “Swarnamali recounts reading solidarity message at first Independence commemoration”

The day was February 4, 1949, the first commemoration of Independence at the Torrington Square. With synchronised grace, four athletes – Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher – handed over scrolls of solidarity from the four corners of Ceylon to four charming and self-conscious young ladies. Swarnamali Amarasuriya, Sirimani Ramachandran, Ayesha Zally and Phyllis de Kretser read those messages in their respective languages and handed them over to Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake to be enshrined with the foundation stone.

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Sovereignty, Space and Civil War in Sri Lanka: Porous Nation

Anoma Pieris has produced yet another book, this time with the prestigious Taylor & Francis imprint. In hardback it runs to 236 pages and has line drawings, tables and 35 illustrations — so it is expensive: Aus $ 216.88

 

Analyses of the Sri Lankan civil war (1983-2009) overwhelmingly represent it as an ethnonationalist contest, prolonging postcolonial arguments on the creation and dissolution of the incipient nation-state since independence in 1948. While colonial divide-and-rule policies, the rise of ethnonationalist lobbies, structural discrimination and majoritarian democracy have been established as grounds for inter-ethnic hostility, there are other significant transformative forces that remain largely unacknowledged in postcolonial analyses.

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Pathos. Comedy. Revelation. President Sirisena’s Sermon to a ‘Captive’ Cabinet

Michael Roberts

Having been forced to accept an UNP government by a Supreme Court decision in December 2018 after he had attempted to ditch them in a coup from above in late October, President Maithripala Sirisena utilised the opportunity provided by the swearing in of a new UNP Cabinet under Ranil Wickremasinghe on 16th December 2018 to deliver a sermon to a captive audience of ‘enemies’ who were, ironically, about to enjoy the fruits of victory and destined to assume state power.[1] Sirisena’s Address was delivered in Sinhala and is marked by pathos, recrimination and selective biographical tales from the past that illuminate aspects of Sri Lankan politics.

 

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Prejudiced and Infantile Readings of Sri Lanka at Chatham House in 2019

Introductory Note from Michael Roberts

 The public event organised by Chatham House to discuss recent events in Sri Lanka on 17th January was chaired by a University Lecturer at University College London whose specialty is “human rights,” rather than any one of the Sri Lankan specialists teaching at British Universities (for e.g. Rajesh Venugopal, Asanga Welikala, Sujit Suvisundaram, Zoltan Beidermann and Alan Strathern).  The combination of ignorance, distortion and prejudice that guided the organisation and direction of the debate was exposed in the opening lines of this Chairperson, one Kate Cronin-Furman. “[We are meeting today some ten years after the “final push” of the Sri Lankan Army in a war that ended in May 2009 – “a final phase where the UN estimates said that more than 40,000 civilians were killed by that military [action].”

aaa -kate cronin

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“Both the Cricketing and Political Dispensations in Sri Lanka are in Deep Shit” says Gideon Haigh

Gideon Haigh, in The Weekend Australian, 19-20 January 2019, where the title is  “Crisis of cricket and democracy in Sri Lanka”

In Shehan Karunatilaka’s kaleidoscopic novel of Sri Lanka and cricket, Chinaman, the narrator stops to consider whether the game is so nationally useful at all. “Does Sri Lanka need more schoolteachers, more soldiers or more wicketkeepers?’’ he asks. “A middle-order batsman or a bank manager? A specialist gully fieldsman or a civil engineer?’’ Needless to say, he resolves the conundrum favourably to the game. “Left-arm spinners cannot unclog your drains, teach your children or cure you of disease,” he concludes. “But once in a while, the very best of them will bowl a ball that will bring an entire nation to its feet. And while there may be no practical use in that, there is ­almost certainly value.”

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