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Vulnerable Guests: A Reflection on social hospitality

The Government’s decision to arbitrarily deport Pakistani refugee-asylum seekers is unacceptable and wrong. Local stress Asylum seekers usually leave their home countries due to fear or deprivation, or both. The Pakistanis on our soil are mostly from religious minorities (Christians and Islamic sects) who face immense hardship and discrimination under the harsh “Blasphemy Law”; questioned […]

Liking violence: A study of hate speech on Facebook in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Brief The Centre for Policy Alternatives, the institutional anchor of Groundviews, released today a report co-authored by Shilpa Samaratunge and I on hate speech online, looking at Facebook in particular. The report is the first in Sri Lanka to focus on hate and dangerous speech in online fora, contextualising the growth […]

The Legacy of A New Woman in Our Generation: Sunila Abeysekara (1952-2013)

Photo courtesy New York Times ‘Her discourse, even when ‘theoretical’ or political, is never simple or linear or ‘objectivized’, universalized; she involves her story in history’. – Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement, The Newly Born Woman, 1986. My first meeting with Sunila Abeysekara was unforgettable. It was July 1976 and I was being held at Slave Island […]

SITA MAMI

Photo by La Shawn Pagan via NYC Views and News (A semi fictional account written in 1991 and edited) They had to postpone the funeral by a couple of days. The children wanted to pay their last respects. Flights had to come in from Canada, England, Dubai and Australia. Transport had to be organised. Announcements […]

“Where are the Sri Lankan Female Scientists?” A Case of Democratizing Science

Photo by Reuters, courtesy International Business Times In recent decades, many researchers, education specialists and policy advocates have paid increasing attention to the issue of gender bias in science. While several successful attempts have been made to increase female participation in science, a dearth of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields still […]

The Riots of June 2014 and Pogrom of July 1983

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana It is unlikely that there is anyone living who remembers the anti -Muslim riots of 1915. In any case, apart from the fact that most of the victims were Muslims and most of the perpetrators were Sinhalese, there are few similarities between the riots of 1915 and 2014. In1915 the British […]

IS THE BBS THE BOSS?

Photo courtesy Today There are scarier things, worse things, than Black July ’83. Aluthgama signaled the possibility of such things. The sequence of events, the lethal violence, the horror of Aluthgama were reminiscent of July ’83 –and to go by Tarzie Vittachchi’s Emergency ’58, the anti-Tamil riots of that year. That is the element of dark […]

The Limits of Tolerance

Photo courtesy Today There is a limit to tolerance, and this is it. In its short history as an independent republic, Sri Lanka has seen more bloodshed than seems fair. Many of our citizens have been active participants in the bombing, burning, shooting, hacking and torturing of each other, and many more have supported this both […]

REALIST MODERNISM IN AN AGE OF KULTURKAMPF: A Review of Long War, Cold Peace by Dayan Jayatilleka

Image from YouTube video Dr Dayan Jayatilleka’s book, Long War, Cold Peace, now in its second revised edition of 2014, is one of the few book-length attempts by a Sri Lankan scholar to make sense of our post-war condition and the policy challenges that we face. His take on all this, it can reliably be […]

OVERCOMING THE POST-WAR MALAISE: WHY SRI LANKA NEEDS A REFORM MINISTRY AND WHAT IT SHOULD DO

The High Priests of Liberal Conservatism: Edmund Burke and D.S. Senanayake are the paradigms of thought and action for the Reform Ministry  [Photo credit: The Empire Youth Annual, 1952] “For centuries the Sinhalese and the Tamils have lived together in peace and amity. We have been governed by their kings and they by ours … […]

Sari

Photo by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai 2009 When Sidath’s mum wore her wedding sari, she would tell her children, ‘the lotus would fully open.’ The large lotus was noticeable because its bright red sequins, dazzling in the light, added the only colour and texture to her otherwise white sari. In what was for twenty five years a […]

Good women and bad women of the post-war nation

Photo by Anushka Wijesinha, 2011, via IPS Since the end of war in May 2009, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government has sought to forge a new overarching Sri Lanka identity inclusive of all ethnic and religious communities. As articulated by the President himself in his first post-war speech to parliament: “the word minorities […]