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Colombo International Film Festival: Six Days That Would Change Your World

It is possible that one may find my title to be exaggerated: this is not the first time that we are hearing the words ‘international film festival’ in a Sri Lankan context. Over the years, we have had many events of this nature where films made by non-Sri Lankans were shown together. True, those words […]

Bringing Politics to the Stage: Observations on Post-War Political Theatre in Sri Lanka

Image courtesy Floating Space production of ‘My Other History‘ During the summer of 2010 I was tasked to assist a foreign post graduate student to conduct her research on Sri Lanka’s post war theatre. As part of this research we interviewed around 20 theatre practitioners from the English and Sinhala theatre in Colombo to encapsulate how the […]

Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe: Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation

Photo by REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte via Channel 4 Way back in the 1970s the manner in which Anagārika Dharmapāla conflated the concepts of “Ceylonese” and “Sinhalese” in one of his public exhortations (Guruge 1965) led me to argue that this was a powerful tendency in Sinhalese nationalist thinking and that this unexamined tendency was a major problem […]

In the name of talent

Image from ‘Kolavari Sri lankan tuition song-By Risinu Gamlath’ video, courtesy Sirasa TV For a very long time now I have watched little children performing at children’s reality shows in Sri Lanka, which are marketed as children’s ‘talent shows’ in our country. Little children come on stage wearing costumes and makeup in the manner of […]

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 […]

Complexities of Sinhalese Ethnicity and Community: Caste, Kinship and Religion

Image courtesy Karava of Sri Lanka Due to the war with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam for over three decades in Sri Lanka, the attention of many including academics, journalists, foreign observers and leaders was focused on Ethnicity –majority and minority.  There was an upsurge of literature –both popular and academic- using ethnicity as the […]

Meetings across acrylic, canvas and dance: India-Sri Lanka Artists Week

I spent some time with 12 visual artists and 1 dancer, from Sri Lanka and India, at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo today, who are part of an interesting and pioneering artistic collaboration between the two countries, from the 18 – 23 January. The artists work in the open near the hotel’s pool. Anyone […]

Innovating Under Duress: Implications of the Global Innovation Index for Sri Lanka

Science writer Nalaka Gunawardene in conversation with Dr Ajith de Alwis, engineer and public intellectual Sri Lanka was ranked at No 98 among 142 countries worldwide in the Global Innovation Index 2013 (GII 2013) released in July. The ranking in 2012 was 94. GII 2013 looks at 142 economies around the world, using 84 indicators […]

30 Years Ago: Audio recordings of panel discussions

Photograph by Tehani Ariyaratne, from 30 Years Ago To complement the launch of 30 Years Ago and focus on some of the issues the project is anchored to and inspired by, four panel discussions were on the 24th and 25th of August at Park Street Mews, Warehouse D in Colombo. The inaugural session featured Deshamanya Bradman Weerakoon and Dr. […]

‘Flying Fish’ and the Constriction of the Arts in Sri Lanka

I met Sanjeeva Pushpakumara last year in a little art cinema off the Champs Elysees at the showing of Ashoka Handagama’s Ini Avan. It seemed he knew me from his days as a student or a journalist. A pleasant, articulate yet understated young man, of less taciturn intensity than Handagama, he debated Ini Avan with […]

Prince Salie: A story of sapphires and steamships

Mohammed Usuff Mohammed Salie was born in 1877.  He was the grandson of Mohamed Usuff, the Alim of the Kandawatte mosque in Galle, who was responsible for handwriting a Quran he knew by memory for his mosque. Prince Salie was sent at a young age to Madras for his religious education. Like generations before and […]