Anthropology, University of Adelaide
The first part of this article was written when I was a Senior Visiting Fellow at the International Centre for Asian Studies, University of Leiden, Netherlands from September to December 1995; and was published in one of their Newsletters under the heading “Understanding Zealotry & Questions for Post-Orientalism.” The emphasis then was informed by my interest in the embodied emotions that have spurred assaults during pogroms and riots. This section, now designated Part I under the sub-title “From 1991-95,” has been modified in minor ways for this publication, while citations and footnotes have been added. Its arguments have then been elaborated in a second part that also reflects upon my journeys in the interim. In thus underlining the temporal ‘progression’ of my thinking, this article underlines the continuities in position within the shifting context of academic production, while yet marking new developments in my experiential understandings. A bibliography has also been added. Obviously, this list has been cast in 2006.
Michael Roberts, 6 March 2010
One’s academic trajectories and journeys are invariably subject to vagaries and contingencies. The events and researches leading to my interest in “communal violence” and “zealotry” in the 1990s, and thereafter to what I have called ‘sacrificial devotion” (embracing the topics of “terrorism,” suicide bombers and Tamil Tigers), were shaped by such contingencies. Since my web site will present some short essays on both these topics in the course of this month, let me detail some moments during my research work that resulted in the journeys that produced such outcomes.
The following short essays have been posted within this site. It is feasible for readers to pen comments, though this site lacks the vibrancy of such media outlets as transcurrents and groundviews.
Lanka without Vijaya by Michael Roberts
Writing History and Myth by Shanie’s Notebook of A Nobody
Sinhalaness and Sinhala Nationalism by Michael Roberts
Primordialist Strands in Contemporary Sinhala Nationalism in Sri Lanka: Urumaya as Ur by Michael Roberts
Burden of History: Obstacles to Power Sharing In Sri Lanka by Michael Roberts
These pieces were penned several years back and did not have the benefit of a thoughtful article by ALAN STRATHERN entitled “The Vijaya Origin Myth and the Strangeness of Kingship,” Past & Present, 2009, No. 203(1): 3-28.
We hope to present a summary version of this article for the benefit of readers who do not have access to the journal on web at some point in the near-future.
A renovated stupa at Dakkshina Vehera a few miles south of Sigiriya — also dating from the latter part of the first millennium AD.
Photos by Michael Roberts, August 2008