Category Archives: racist thinking

Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Achchaaru … or Racial Pickle

Michael Roberts

 Re-discovering this chat with Alex Van Arkadie today [2017] I think it is pertinent for all Sri Lankans …. And should be read in conjunction with my recent selection of material n “Sinhala Mind-Set” and “Why Thuppahi” ……. included in efforts to widen the exchanges in the following posts

…… Capped thereafter with a reading of Pon Kulendiren’s lovely tale of “Sinhala Nona”

https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/where-music-transcends-ethnic-divisions-sinhala-nona/#more-24614…… perhaps with background baila music such as Dingiri Dingare Le Menachchi!


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Filed under British colonialism, caste issues, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, ethnicity, governance, heritage, life stories, politIcal discourse, racist thinking, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, world events & processes, zealotry

Kill Any Sikh: The Anti-Sikh Pogrom of 1984 in Delhi in Bhawan Singh’s IMAGES

1= agitated Indians try to scale gates of the All-India Medical Institute, 31 October 1984

@= Deep Anguish etched in every face

Michael Roberts on Bhawan Singh’s Pictorial Images

The first two images reveal the agitation and anguish of Indian citizens in Delhi who had rushed to the entrance of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on the 31st October where Indira Gandhi had been rushed to in hopes of her resuscitation after she was shot by her own Sikh bodyguards. Two more pictures below underline the emotions coursing through the minds and bodies of these patriot citizens of India who were so moved by the prospect of her death that they rushed to her side so to speak. Continue reading

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A Requiem for Stanley J. Tambiah

Sachi Sri Kanthain Ilankai Tamil Sangam, 9 February 2014, … http://sangam.org/stanley-jeyaraja-tambiah-1929-2014/

tambiah-pic-11 “In 1958, while I was leading a research team composed of university undergraduates, all of whom were Sinhalese, that were engaged in a sociological study of peasant colonization in Gal Oya, ethnic riots unexpectedly broke out in our midst, and at Amparai, Sinhalese public workers went on the rampage in hijacked trucks, attacking Tamil shopkeepers and Tamil peasant colonists. My students, very solicitous for my safety, insisted that I stay behind closed doors while they stood guard. And I was later hidden in a truck, and spirited out of the valley to Batticaloa, a safe Tamil area. That experience was traumatic: it was the first time the ethnic divide was so forcibly thrust into my existence. And intuitively reading the signs, I wished to get away from the island, for I experienced a mounting alienation and a sense of being homeless in one’s own home.” …… Tambiah SJ (1997) a rejoinder to ‘Buddhism Betrayed’ book review by Sasanka Perera

Tambiah SJ (1997) on 1983 ethnic riots in Sri Lanka

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Tambiah’s Contemporary Account of the Gal-Oya Riots of 1956: for Vice-Chancellor Attygalle

Stanley J. Tambiah

In writing about the Gal Oya riots, it would not be possible to give a meaningful and chronological account of the happenings if one were to confine oneself to only what one saw with one’s own eyes. I am taking the liberty of presenting an account based on direct knowledge as well as indirect information elicited from persons. However I shall carefully specify and differentiate between statements based on events witnessed by me and statements based on accounts given by others in the valley at the time of the riots. Care will be taken to state the sources of the facts narrated.

sj-tambiahTambiah sir_nicholas_attygalle_photo-210x300 Attygalle

The Gal Oya disturbance cannot of course be treated as an isolated phenomenon. It must be viewed in the general context of communal tensions and political differences existing in the country and also as a continuation of disturbances that started in Colombo during and after June fifth. The account given here however deals only with incidents that happened in the Eastern Province. Continue reading

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Murali Dissected …. and Admired: Shehan Karunatilaka’s Conversion

Shehan Karunatilaka,  courtesy of ESPNcricinfo and http://shehanwriter.com/sport/Murali_Sceptic.html where the title is Confessions of a Murali Sceptic”

A dangerous confession: I have been a Murali-sceptic for some time. This is not something that should be admitted, in public or otherwise, if you are Sri Lankan and fear being lynched.  Make no mistake, I am no Murali-denier. Who can possibly deny the man’s genius, his artistry, and his quiet dignity? But when first I saw him in 1995, bamboozling the Kiwis in Sri Lanka’s first Test series win abroad, my reaction was that there was dodginess at work – dodginess concentrated around the elbow region. I wasn’t the only one.

At the time I hadn’t read the rules on what constituted a chuck, but it seemed to be all about elbows: whether they straightened or whether they bent. My view of chucking mirrored conventional views on pornography: hard to define, but I would know it when I saw it.

For those, however, who saw Murali, who truly saw the man’s wizardry, there is far more to him than a curious elbow. The eyes that glare like an All Black mid-haka, the wrist that flaps at improbable angles and, unseen by most, the shoulder that all but dislocates at the point of delivery.

23-darrell-hair-no-balls-murali 25a-murali-wired-up26-ranatunga-and-emerson-in-confrontation

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Cockroaches: A Universal Pejorative in the Particular Armoury of a Sunni Extremist in Melbourne

A Melbourne teenager [name withheld] from a middle-class background had “expressed violent loathing of non-believers and likened Shia Muslims to cockroaches” in his Facebook and Surespot rantings. He had gone further and gathered the material for a pressure cooker bomb –activities which have seen him tried and sentenced to a seven-year jail term (see The Australian, 8 Dec 2016)

cockraocahes-22

There is dark paradox here:  a highly particular ideologue has deployed a universal pejorative. Continue reading

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Understanding Extreme Sinhala Nationalism

aa-lionelLionel 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.

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