SWRD Bandaranaike Images from the 1930s ……. and Further On

 Young SWRD  Bandaranaike and Sirima Ratwatte

 SWRD in Gandhian mode – cover of Charkaya and Goyam Keta Continue reading

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Footsteps across Continents: Hedi Simon and the Stadlens of Austria and Britain

Matthew Stadlen, in The Telegraph, 11 November 2013, where the title is “Family history: retracing the steps of a romance disrupted by war”

In 1938 my grandfather, the pianist Peter Stadlen, was returning to his native Austria from a concert tour of Ireland when he happened to meet a girl on the ferry home. As a result he caught a cold from chatting to her on deck, and had to stop over in Amsterdam. The fates were with him, because the following day – 75 years ago – the Nazis marched into Austria; Peter was a secular Jew. He was able to communicate with his mother and sister, who were still in Vienna, and urge them to leave by the next train to Holland. From there, all three made it to London as refugees, and that is where my family has been based ever since. They were lucky.

 Hedi Simon … also known as Heidi Keuneman before her second marriage to Peter Stadlen

My great-great-uncle, known as Onkl Friedl, did not escape. He was one of the very first to die at the hands of the Gestapo when they moved into Vienna. He had been chief economic adviser to pre-Nazi Chancellors of Austria, and was immediately put under house arrest. A paraplegic, he always kept cyanide in his ring in case he should ever be caught in a fire, unable to escape. He tricked the Nazi guards into leaving his room and took the poison. I have red hair but neither of my parents do: Onkl Friedl was a redhead and I’ve always believed it comes from him.

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Jews who left their footprint in Island Lanka

Tissa Devendra,  in The Island, 29 November 2016

The only footprint, if any, left behind by the Jews of ancient times, is in the 11th century chronicle of the Arab geographer Idris. He writes that the king [probably Kasyapa IV] was advised by a Council of sixteen including four Jews – the rest being Buddhists, Muslims and Brahmins. A fascinating story from a compatriot of Sinbad the Sailor – but with no supporting evidence at all in our own chronicles.

  Plesner & Bawa

The Portuguese: Assorted Jews came to Ceylon in the wake of the Portuguese invaders of the Maritime Provinces. In that era of the Spanish Inquisition, Jews from Spain and Portugal camouflaged their ethnic origins by adopting pseudo-Portuguese names such as Silva, Perera, Mendis [to name but a few] The plentiful harvest of such names, yet flaunted by Sinhalese families in our Maritime Provinces , establishes the depth of the footprint left behind by Portuguese “Jews”.** Continue reading

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A New Study of the Portuguese in the East

Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya’s THE PORTUGUESE IN THE EAST: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF A MARITIME TRADING EMPIRE  is due in print soon, under the imprint of IB Tauris

:Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India in the late fifteenth century opened up new economic and cultural horizons for the Portuguese. Undertaken at the height of Portugal’s maritime influence, it helped to create an oceanic state ranging from the Cape of Good Hope to China. Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya charts the influences of the Portuguese in more than 50 Asian tongues. Luso-Asian influence became engrained in eastern cultures in subtle ways, such as the Portuguese oral traditions in folk literature, embedded in postcolonial Asian music and song. Portuguese cultural legacies are a lasting reminder of an unexpected outcome of seaborne commerce. “Jayasuriya’s use of music and linguistic innovations as a source for the history of the Portuguese presence in Asia opens new paths for other historians … an important contribution.” — João Vicente MeloJournal for Maritime Research

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Afro-Asian Hybridity across the Indian Ocean

Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya

“Lost Narratives and Hybrid Identities in the Indian Ocean: Afro-Asians” has appeared in r print in Indi@logs Vol 4 2017, pp. 11-26, ISSN: 2339-8523

ABSTRACT of Article: The voluntary movement of Africans was concurrent with their involuntary uprooting, driven by the slave trade. Trade, colonisation and slavery have been drivers of migration, interconnecting people of diverse ethnicity globally. Afro-Asian communities are both historic and contemporary and, whilst Afro-diasporic communities in the Atlantic World are well recognised, the diasporas in Asia have only become visible in the last decade. Assimilation to the diversity of the Indian Ocean has contributed to this invisibility. With the loss of patronage due to changing political scenarios, African migrants have become disenfranchised. The dynamics of their identity, shaped by strong cultural memories bring out their African roots. This paper argues that diasporic consciousness of AfroAsians is expressed through their strong cultural memories. As people with dual belongings, identifying with both the homeland and the hostland, Afro-Asians are able to reconcile their hybrid identities. With the movement of Afro-Asians from the peripheries their subaltern voices are beginning to be heard. Their eclipsed histories and lost narratives are challenging the Atlantic model of African migration. Continue reading

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Remembering Professor Neil Dias Karunaratne

Aloysians ALL

Born: 28 April 1937; Matara, Sri Lanka….Died: 19 December 2016; Brisbane, Australia

Neil was born in Matara, Sri Lanka, the second child to Peter and Emelda Karunaratne. Neil grew up in Matara, a beachside city on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, in a large family with three brothers and three sisters. Neil was enrolled at SAC on 17 January 1950 and was admitted as a hosteller. It was during his time at St Aloysius that he developed a lifelong drive for academic achievement and excellence. He obtained a 1st division in the Junior exam in 1952 and a 1st division in the Senior exam in 1954. He was a bronze medalist of the Royal Life Saving Society and a Queens Scout and Troup Leader for a short spell. He passed his Voucher exam in the St John’s Ambulance brigade and was a member of the Under 16 athletics team. Neil was the holder of the Abeyesundere Memorial Scholarship. Continue reading

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Christopher Hitchens in Perceptive Reading of the LTTE Defeat in May 2009

Christopher Hitchens,in Slate, 25 May 2009, where the title is “The End of the Tamil Tigers” … and where the chief by-line saysInsurgencies don’t always have history on their side” … See my brief NOTE at the end re the late Christopher Hitchens and note that the  highlights are my imposition

In the late fall of 1978, I was approached by a Sri Lankan Tamil rights group, which visited the office of the socialist weekly in London where I was then working and entreated me to pay a visit to their country. I say “their” country, though they actually referred to it as “Ceylon”: the British colonial name that continued to be the country’s name after independence in 1948. It was only changed in 1972. The word Lanka is simply the name for island in Sanskrit, and the prefix Sri has a connotation of holiness, and the alteration generally reflected the aspirations and preferences of the Sinhalese-speaking and Buddhist majority. So the difference in emphasis there was pretty large to begin with.

 Sri Lankan soldiers with the remains of what’s said to be Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran = pic & caption as in SLATE

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