Darshanie Ratnawalli. Q & A from Saturday, 21 March 2015 … with emphasis by highlighting being impositions by the Editor, Thuppahi
Professor KNO Dharmadasa, the present Editor in Chief of the Sinhala Encyclopedia goes down in history as mounting to date, the only direct, authoritative academic challenge to Professor Leslie Gunawardana, an ancient period historian of Sri Lanka who became a darling of certain social anthropological circuits through his “The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography”– (1979) and “Historiography In a Time of Ethnic Conflict, Construction of the Past in Contemporary Sri Lanka”– (1995). This is the third and last installment of Prof. K.N.O’s conversation with Darshanie Ratnawalli continued from 08 March, 2015.
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Sudharshan Seneviratne, reviewing Lakshman S. Perera: The Institutions of Ancient Ceylon from Inscriptions, (from 3rd Century BC to 830 AD) Volume I ….. with Introduction and supplementary notes by Sirima Kiribamunne and Piyatissa Senanayake, ICES, Kandy 2001, … 322 pages … reviewed in http://www.infolanka.com/org/srilanka/cult/45.htm
The Antecedents: My first encounter with the historian was in 1974 when I visited the University library at Peradeniya as a postgraduate student. It was never a formal introduction – not even a personal meeting. Yet, it was close enough for me to admire the man and his work. The silent space afforded by the Ceylon Room at Peradeniya was ideally suited for a dialogue with the past. I reached out to the past through the volumes of a doctoral thesis – so immaculately completed a year before I was born! Page after page three volumes of information unfolded a dimension hitherto less known in the history of Sri Lanka. This study I thought, will always remain as a testimony to the ‘historian’s craft’ (apologies to Marc Bloch) so purposefully executed by a scholar with a sober perception to the study of history. Continue reading
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A Valedictory in American Academia
James Wells Gair, Ph.D. ’63, professor emeritus of linguistics who throughout a long and distinguished career produced groundbreaking work on South Asian languages and their relation to other languages, died Dec. 10 in Ithaca. He was 88.“Jim Gair was in many ways the paradigmatic Cornell linguist,” said John Whitman, chair and professor of linguistics. “He had a language passion for Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka, and he threw himself entirely into it, teaching the language, writing textbooks for its learners, and analyzing both the colloquial language and its classical texts.
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The teaching of history at a tertiary level began with University College in Colombo in the 1920s, where students were prepared for an external degree at the University of London. Professor SA Pakeham taught medieval and modern European history to those who enrolled for such courses. Pakeham’s place in the history of history-teaching yet awaits its researcher. One contribution stands out: Pakeman seems to have discerned the talents of Garrett Champness Mendis, then a Lecturer at the Government Teacher Training College. An opening was secured for his postgraduate training under Professor Rhys-Davids at London University and GC Mendis proceeded to UK to work under that renowned Pali scholar.
This period of study encompassed extended sojourns in Munchen (?) in Germany under the tutelage of Wilhelm Geiger (1856-1943). This spell in England and Germany resulted in his command of Pali and his dissertation A Historical Criticism of the Mahavamsa (1930, unpubd). Amazing as it may seem, he could not be slotted into history teaching at University College when he returned and he was appointed initially as a Visiting Lecturer in Pali. Continue reading
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