Michael Roberts, courtesy of The Island and Sunday Times and with thanks to Sasanka Perera & Steve Kemper
Sasanka Perera has recently introduced readers to a new book by Steven Kemper entitled Rescuing Dharmapala from the Nation (University of Chicago Press, 2015) – a book which surveys the socio-political activities of the Anagarika Dharmapala in a refreshing manner. I have yet to get hold of the book, but Sasanka provides enough commentary to provoke a discussion.
Dharmapala in USA –probably at the World Congress of Religions 1893
Within a context where Dharmapala aka Don David Hewavitarne is regarded as an influential Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist by many social scientists analysing Sri Lankan history and politics, Perera indicates that Kemper provides broader dimensions by re-situating Dharmapala “within the Buddhist world of his time by … focusing on his international activities in aid of Buddhist causes and cross-faith discussions.” Kemper’s new work, therefore, is a modification of the Protestant Buddhist thesis popularized in social science circles by Gananath Obeyesekere’s writings in particular. Continue reading
Filed under British colonialism, charitable outreach, communal relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, ethnicity, fundamentalism, historical interpretation, Indian religions, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, religious nationalism, sri lankan society, Uncategorized, unusual people, world events & processes
African sisters in Sri Lanka
On the road to Sirambiyadi
In every culture family is an important element of human life. For centuries Ceylon had been a maritime domain for foreign traders, defiant conquerors and zealous missionaries. All these foreigners left behind their ancestors, who with time, integrated into our society. There were many nationalities who lived here in those ancient times – Arabs, Europeans, Indians and Africans. Much focus has been given to the various ethnic clans, but, people of African origin domiciled here were marginalised. Once in a while, these African-Sri Lankans would capture our attention via a youtube song video. One of the last such families of direct African origin live in Puttalam. The name Puttalam, is believed to be derived from the Tamil word “upputhalam” – uppu meaning salt and thalam meaning area of production, thus Puttalam is still famous for salt.
Filed under British imperialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, gender norms, heritage, landscape wondrous, life stories, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes
Sasanka Perera, in The Island, 8 August 2018, where the title is “Rescuing Dharmapala from the ‘Nation’,” …. with emphasis via highlighting in this version being an imposition by The Editor, Thuppahi
I was intrigued to see the worlds of knowledge of the past that were opened up when reading Steven Kemper’s 2015 book, ‘Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World’ published by the University of Chicago Press. Growing up Sinhala Buddhist in Sri Lanka, Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) would easily be one of the most important historical characters from the recent past, we had become familiar with early in our lives. This was certainly so for my generation. As we know from that experience, Dharmapala was closely and intimately linked to the country’s Buddhist revivalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Precisely due to this reason, he was the most iconic culture hero of the Sinhala Buddhists in the modern period.
Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, nationalism, patriotism, pilgrimages, politIcal discourse, power sharing, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes
The student of the colonial history of Sri Lanka has undoubtedly come upon the name of S. G. Perera in their studies. Fr. S. G. Perera, a Catholic Priest of the Society of Jesus was an exemplary scholar of the last century and whose parallels are unheard of. Publishing over a dozen books and over 300 articles in journals, his contributions to the history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the history of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods of the island have aided the development of historical knowledge to a great extent in Sri Lanka; what could be called his magnum opus, the translation of the ‘Conquista’ of the 17th century Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz, is the single most important Portuguese literary work which is the basis for any historical study on the Portuguese period. His proficiency of the Portuguese language gave him access to numerous original sources which he has translated and made available to the public is part of the wonderful legacy of this great historian of Lanka.
Fr. S. G. Perera (image from The Aloysian 1946-1950, Volume 06, No. 03)
Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, modernity & modernization, nationalism, patriotism, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, world events & processes