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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 […]

In conversation with Michael Mendis: Winner of 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Asia

Michael Mendis is the winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Asia. ‘The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus for a Rainy Night’ can be read in full on Granta. Upon winning the prestigious prize, Michael averred, “Although writing, for me, is inherently a personal exercise, involving a distillation of private […]

‘Women’s Issues’: Shooting the messenger

Image courtesy ICRW ‘Are we not raped every day when we walk down the street and are leered at ? Are we not raped when we are treated as sex objects, denied our rights, oppressed in so many ways ?’ Archives of Manushi, written by Sohaila (1983) Sri Lanka reminds one of one’s gender. To be female in a […]

Memes and the Art of Majority Placation in Sri Lanka

The thing about Social Media is that it gives people a shot at engineering their identities without much effort. A simple ‘like’ or ‘share’ of a particular picture can easily give the impression of an aware and concerned citizen, and so the proliferation of such images in such a politically-charged climate is not surprising. This […]

Ini Avan: Hauntingly beautiful but…

Ini Avan, Asoka Handagama’s latest film, in Tamil, has won international cinematic acclaim. And it is easy to see why. The film has interesting characters who within their confined destinies take some unpredictable turns and moves at a compelling and deliberate pace through carefully designed frames with strong aesthetic appeal that are also revisited, like […]

Unearthed: Architecture, text, theatre and dance

Unearthed is a new production by Floating Space in collaboration with Sally E. Dean, and in concept and design promises a rather unusual and unique performance. Planned for the 1st and 2nd of December in a residence just outside Colombo, Unearthed brings together a cast of theatre and movement practitioners to create a site-specific performance. To unpack the […]