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
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Stan Grant, ABC News, 31 May 2018, with title Äboriginal reconciliation and what we can learn from a French philosopher”
What can a French historian and philosopher tell us about reconciliation between black and white in Australia? More than a century ago, when in Australia it was still widely presumed that Aboriginal people were a dying race, Ernest Renan was grappling with the question, what is a nation? It remains one of the most profound and powerful statements of identity, written in 1882 in the shadows of the French Revolution.
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Cenan Pirani: “Widening the study of military organization in the early modern South Asian context: an examination of the Sinhala Hatana Kavya”, in South Asian History & Culture, Vol9/2, April 2018, pp. 207-24.
ABSTRACT: This essay highlights the under-represented subject of military organization in the context of early modern Sri Lanka. Military organization is a topic well covered in North Indian studies of the Mughal State, and this essay borrows certain thematic concepts from that historiography to examine the Sri Lankan context. Specifically, it considers the existence of a ‘military labour market’ from which both European and Asian kings and generals recruited base soldiery between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Such an economic market can be found through a reading of Sinhala sources known as the Hatana Kavya (‘war poems’), which document warfare and conflicts between the Portuguese and Sinhalese kings in this period. Information in these poems also notes the clear connection between territorial authority and efficient military organization, where authority was dependent on the loyalty of one’s military force. The essay attempts break from previous scholarship, which usually assumes military conflict in the period is the result of ideological conflicts (i.e. religion and ethnicity) between foreign, European, and native island elements. It does this by showing how military leaders of both groups were essentially required to gain the services of the same base soldiery through material incentives.
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Hugh Karunanayake, courtesy of The CEYLANKAN
My previous piece on the “Early Years of Motoring in Ceylon” ( The Ceylankan # 60 Nov 2012) evoked a level of interest which has since prodded me on to reflect on motoring in more recent times. The decade of the 1950s – mid twentieth century Ceylon, could verily be described as the “golden age” of motoring. The early 1950s especially were years when the country enjoyed the “Korean boom”; export commodities mainly rubber were fetching record prices, income tax relatively low, all leading to consumption going on at a gallop. There were no national investment projects of note to capture the surplus that was generated, and most of the money that flowed in, went towards conspicuous consumption largely in the purchase of luxury goods such as automobiles.
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1. Methodist Central College, Batticaloa is specifically mentioned as an English School from August 1814 as a separate institution apart from any Vernacular school.
Rev William Ault arrived in Batticaloa on the 12th of August 1814. * He died on April 01st 1815. He laboured in Batticaloa for just seven months. * But in the first of his two letters to his mother after arriving, he writes that he has established an English school, I quote from his letter, “On my arrival here I found in this place a Tamil school containing about thirty boys. That school is now under my superintendence. We have established another, which now contains thirty, besides the English school, which I teach myself.
.as it is today
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Sachitra Mahendra in Daily News, 5 April 2018
Immediately following Independence, Ceylon roamed in darkness. The country was at a loss. The country was looking for an identity at least for the sake of its majority ethnic group, Sinhalese. The urge had been brewing for a decade, and the architects were in the making.