Category Archives: self-reflexivity

Last of Sri Lanka’s Burgher Ladies

A nostalgic tale in You Tube Video composed by by Kel O’Neill and Eline Jongsma, here: http://www.vjmovement.com/truth/724…. Published on Aug 2, 2010

The comments over the years within the original website are revealing: a mix of rank prejudice and hate on the one hand and sensibility on the other . Those interested in this dimension of Sri Lankan history set within the development of Colombo as the island’s hegemonic centre” in British times should consult M. Roberts, Percy Colin-Thome & Ismeth Raheem, PEOPLE  INBETWEEN, Colombo, Sarvodaya, 1989.

They should attend in particular to the tables and data in the Appendices on the one hand and the two charts highlighting the prejudices of the Sinhala people in colonial times (for ‘good’  historic reasons) — prejudices revealed for instance in the writings of Piyadasa Sirisena and Anagarika Dharmapala. If readers think the Tamils did not have similar prejudices, re-visit that idea. I assert that counter speculatively albeit confidently. The data in People Inbetween happens to be sourced in the southwest where I grew up.

SEE https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/people-inbetween-ethnic-and-class-prejudices-in-british-ceylon/ … The thrust of the tale is that one cannot comprehend thethinking of (some) Sinhalese without attending to the colonial intrusions in the era of European expansion and how that body of sentiments was transposed unto a historical consciousness that goes further back. More recently, I have been guided by Young and Senanayake’s Carpenter Peretaya and other evidence to elaborate upon the Manichean demonization that transposes and equates ancient ogres with more recent and/or contemporary threats –a deadly process of conflation. SEE The Collective Consciousness of the Sinhalese During the Kandyan Era: Manichean Images, Associational Logic”,  https://wordpress.com/post/thuppahi.wordpress.com/26600

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, cultural transmission, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, world events & processes

Travis Sinniah appointed Sri Lanka’s Naval Chief

P K Balachandran, courtesy of Newsin Asia …. https://newsin.asia/sri-lanka-gets-tamil-navy-chief-47-years/

After a gap of 47 years, Sri Lanka on Friday appointed a Tamil as the Commander of its navy. Rear Admiral Travis Jeremy Liyanduru Sinniah, who was made navy chief by President Maithripala Sirisena, is the second Tamil to head the country’s navy after Rear Admiral Rajanathan “Rajan” Kadirgamar who served between 1960 and 70. H ailing Adm.Sinniah’s appointment, President Sirisena tweeted saying that he had served the Sri Lankan navy “with immense loyalty for many decades.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under communal relations, cultural transmission, ethnicity, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, life stories, LTTE, patriotism, politIcal discourse, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, war reportage, world events & processes

Under Fire: Pictorials of Sri Lanka’s Cricket Team facing Duress at Lahore, 3 March 2009

Michael Roberts …. aided by varied cameramen mostly unnamed

The stark reality of near-death and its trauma are reflected in the aftermath by Eranga Jayawardena’s image of Mahela and his wife at Katunayake Airport when the team arrived safely on 3rd March 2009 ….. What follows below is a sequence of dramatic images depicting the scenario in Lahore that preceded and precipitated this moment (several courtesy of AFP in Hong Kong) Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, cultural transmission, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Islamic fundamentalism, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, news fabrication, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, trauma, truth as casualty of war, war reportage, world events & processes

Imminent Disasters? Exploiting Sri Lanka’s Mineral Resources

Ashley de Vos, in The Island, 16 August 2017, where the heading runs thus: “The exploitation of minerals of Sri Lanka”

If there is an asset, should it be exploited to the fullest in the shortest period of time? The traditional view would be based on very careful and controlled use. Today, in the global market place an asset is viewed very differently. As most investors in a business are interested in an ever increasing the bottom line question of eventual sustainability raises questions that need answers. Unfortunately, all exploitation has limits and if profit is the only criteria, whatever the pontification, it cannot and is not sustainable in the long term. It will always be a short term solution, to what could be a long term disaster.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, economic processes, environmental degradation, heritage, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, population, power politics, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions, world events & processes

A Tale of Resistance: The Story of the Arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, a reprint of an article published in 1989 in Ethnos, vol. 55: 1-2, pp.69-82.

  This essay decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Mārayā, the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of communion were represented as dangerous, disordering forces. The piecemeal reinterpretation of this short text, however, must be overlaid by a holistic perspective and the realisation that its rendering in oral form enabled its purveyors to lace the story with a satirical flavour: so that the Portuguese and Catholicism are, like demons, rendered both disordering and comic, dangerous and inferior—thus ultimately controllable. In contending in this manner that the folktale is an act of nationalist opposition, the article is designed as an attack on the positivist empiricism which pervades the island’s historiography and shuts out imaginative reconstructions which are worked out by penetrating the subjective world of the ancient texts.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under art & allure bewitching, authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, power politics, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, travelogue, Uncategorized, unusual people, world events & processes

The Arya and Hela Schools of Sinhala Song

Garrett Field, abstract of   article entitled “Music for Inner Domains: Sinhala Song and the Arya and Hela Schools of Cultural Nationalism in Colonial Sri Lanka”inThe Journal of Asian Studies November 2014, vol. 73(4):1043-1058 ·

In this article, I juxtapose the ways the “father of modern Sinhala drama”, John De Silva, and the Sinhala language reformer, Munidasa Cumaratunga, utilized music for different nationalist projects. First, I explore how De Silva created musicals that articulated Arya-Sinhala nationalism to support the Buddhist Revival. Second, I investigate how Cumaratunga, who spearheaded the Hela-Sinhala movement, asserted that genuine Sinhala song…

Leave a comment

Filed under cultural transmission, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, unusual people, world events & processes

Ethnicity in Riposte at a Cricket Match: The Past for the Present 

 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). **

      I. PRELUDE

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[1] 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[2]—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

Leave a comment

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