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To be or not to be gay – Frangipani and the travails of homosexuals in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Galaxy Mag Years ago, when only heterosexuality was legal in Australia men or women having sex with members of their own gender was a serious offence. Underpinning the law was a gamut of attitudes that cast homosexuals in the guise of abnormal, unnatural and depraved predators who deserved contempt at best and death […]

Presidential polls 2015: An electoral trial on biased fortunetelling

AFP PHOTO STR/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian I don’t know much about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reliance on astrology, despite India being a land full of astrologers­ – those with credibility and those of dubious repute – with millions of followers. But in the recent years, Sri Lanka put superstitious India to shame. We […]

The Incident at Kumbukgate: Reflections on the Attack on Young Artists and Activists

Photo courtesy Nidahasa The chilling news came in the afternoon – our friends, colleagues and comrades who had been holding a small scale meeting in Kumbukgate, Kurunegala, were under attack, surrounded by a group of goons clad in blue t-shirts of Nil Balakaya. ‘What on earth can we do’ was the question that we both […]

T. Shanaathanan in conversation with Sharmini Pereira

Sharmini Pereira: What’s your earliest recollection of wanting to study art? Was it something that you were encouraged to do or something that you encouraged your family to allow you to do? T. Shanaathanan: I come from an orthodox middle class family and my parents have some interest in art. I learnt the basic principles […]

Social Responsibility in Universities in Unstable Times

Photograph courtesy Vikalpa Guest lecture delivered at the international conference, ‘Revisiting Social Responsibility in Contexts of Crisis: Challenges and Possibilities in Sri Lanka’ at Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, 17 November 2014 Vice Chancellor, the dean and colleagues, let me wish all of you a very good morning. When the Dean, Faculty of Arts […]

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 […]