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The ‘Mad Monk’ Phenomenon: BBS as the underside of Sinhala-Buddhism

Photo courtesy Today The marauding Buddhist monks, who appear to be tied to a long political leash, have run out of control. They need to be stopped. But it is equally necessary to take a cold look at the complexity of the phenomenon that groups such as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) have come to represent. […]

Women and Children: The Cutting Edge of International Law

Photo by UN/Myriam Asmani, via World Education Blog The Grotius Lecture 2014[1] PREFACE Sometime at the end of 2011, while I was still the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, I met an ambassador from an Asian country just before a United Nations Security Council meeting on children […]

Freedom and bondage: Lankans, then and now

Introduction There is a need to question the adequacy and suitability of current conceptions of both ‘human rights’ and ‘secularism’ to meet the challenges of unbridled majoritarianism, which seems perfectly at home within the institutions and procedures of the modern Sri Lankan state. In the first part of this article I propose an alternative vision […]

Cultural Domination and Subordination among the Sinhalese: Colonialism, Resistance, Religion and Critical Discourse

Image from Rough Guides In my previous two articles I discussed Caste and Class domination and subordination.  In this article, I am looking closely at cultural domination in the context of post-independent Sri Lanka, in particular the contemporary period. Some comparison with the colonial period is also inevitable in this exercise. Culture defined simply as […]

“Strong Women”: A book review

In the post-war phase, discourse around women and their rights remains extremely weak. As such, attention must be paid to the day-to-day increase of violence against women and girls across the country. The continuing ethnic issues and insecurity together with other socio-economic factors, including the rising cost of living, have placed a great burden upon […]

In conversation with Lakshman Joseph de Saram

Lakshman Joseph de Saram is an internationally acclaimed Film Composer, classical musician & Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Colombo. We begin our conversation by looking at Lakshman’s childhood – the social milieu he grew up in as well as the circumstances of his household, which were early invitations to the world of […]

The ‘Post-colonial Grip’ and ‘Class Domination’: Sinhalese Upper and Middle Classes

Image courtesy Thuppahi’s blog At a time where there is much discussion on how the Western powers are dominating the world, in particular the global South including countries such as Sri Lanka, it is important to examine how other forms of domination in the post-colonial era have replaced the domination created by such powers during […]

Reception of Buddhism in Lanka: An entanglement with worldly sovereignty?

Image courtesy The Star [Constitutional amendments at Anuradhapura were signified by the erection of a new stupa; or as in the case of King Kasyapa, by moving the capital to another place. The ideological changes they symbolized wrought modifications to the tri-partite consensus of king-sangha-village as this ancient kingdom rolled on for over 1300 years. […]

Sinhalese and their fear of freedom

Anagarika Dharmapala, A.E. Goonesinha and C.W.W. Kannangara, three of the radical champions of the early 20th century who were ‘managed’ by the conservative leaders who eventually negotiated ‘freedom’ from the British. With the displacement from Rajarata, the heart, soul and body of their ancient culture in the 13th century the Sinhalese settled for safety over […]

Should a Muslim eat wedding cake? A note on interpellation and agency

Photo courtesy The Agenda A few days ago, at the wedding of two Sri Lankan Muslims, both of whose families hail from Mannar, families forcibly evicted from their homes by the LTTE in 1990, a married Sri Lankan Muslim woman, a doctor by profession, cut a slice from the wedding cake after the bride and […]