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Debating the Ancient and Present: A Conversation with Romila Thapar

Sasanka Perera, ed., Debating the Ancient and Present: A Conversation with Romila Thapar. Delhi: Aakar Books and Department of Sociology, South Asian University, 2015, pp.75, INR.125.00 (Paperback). The ‘Past’ decides the ‘Present’ in India. The past is an everyday word, in politics, academics, culture and science in India. The ‘Present’ questions of the ‘Past’ are […]

Archives of General Election 2015: #SLGE15 & #GenElecSL

Over eight weeks, Groundviews archived every single tweet tagged with either #SLGE15 or #GenElecSL. Once a week throughout the campaign period, these archives were released over Twitter for anyone to browse through or download. Sentiments, positions, promises and statements expressed over Twitter, an ephemeral medium, become extremely difficult to index and search for as time goes by. Content […]

Writing transitions: Changing and changeable texts (Panel discussion)

Today (Sunday, 16th), 5.30-7pm, Park Street Mews, Warehouse D, Colombo, Sri Lanka Free and open to the public. No reservations or tickets. Limited seating. What role can and does art in general play in memorialising violent events, and how has this played out in our country? More generally, what is the role of cultural production and […]

Hacking the hackers: Surveillance in Sri Lanka revealed

It was sometime in April 2013, that I wrote my last blog post. Titled ‘And Then They Came For Us’, or something along those morbid lines, the piece was a commentary of sorts based on tweets, photographs and Facebook updates sent out by friends attending a peaceful vigil at the center of Colombo, when marauding thu monks […]

‘Raja Saha Ghatakaya’ – An exceptional novel

The novel Raja saha Ghatakaya (445 pages) by Visakesa Chandrasekaram has an interesting genesis of its own – the author, wrote the English version (The King and the Assassin) first and published it in October 2014, and the Sinhala version in December 2014. This review is limited to the Sinhala novel as I am yet […]

A Panopticon state: We must not wait until they come for us

On Tuesday last week (12th) I watched, at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute the screening of ‘Citizen Four’: A documentary film concerning systems analyst Edward Snowden and the information he leaked on the nature and scale of the NSA’s spying activities. In that documentary, director Laura Poitras records the manner in which she was first contacted […]

World Press Freedom day 2015 and Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka

Image courtesy DBS Jeyaraj “All must be free to express their concerns, their needs, their aspirations and their fears” Pope Francis, at the Katunayake International airport, on arrival to Sri Lanka on 13th January 2015. Amidst killings, disappearances, assaults, threats, intimidations, harassments and restrictions on journalists, widespread self-censorship and exile of journalists critical of the […]

Sri Lanka’s emergency assistance to Nepal and return of exiled journalists

Photo courtesy Asianews.it Sri Lankan government has announced that it had dispatched emergency supplies and support personnel to Nepal a day after the devastating earthquake and that there would be further materials and personnel in the coming days[1]. The government also announced that Sri Lankans who had been in Nepal, can come back in the […]

SMS news alerts: Going beyond cricket and politics

Mainstream politics & cricket dominate SMS news alerts in Sri Lanka. This infographic was made up from 320 SMS updates by a single news provider, covering the period of 23.10.2014 to 16.2.2015 and totalling around 5,228 words. Attribution to the service provider, at the end of each SMS, was stripped from the text that fed into […]

Online Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka

Introduction The tension between the burgeoning technological capacities for both expression and repression online is a global phenomenon, compounded by the absence of a dedicated international legal framework that sets out obligations for states with regard to the protections of freedom of expression online. Within this context, Sri Lanka is particularly vulnerable: existing protections for […]

Voting for Lasantha Again, 26 Years Later

Photo courtesy CNN A quarter century ago, as an eager first time voter, I cast my maiden vote for a young journalist friend who had recently taken to electoral politics. Lasantha Wickrematunge was contesting in the Colombo District from the main opposition party, SLFP, at the General Election of 15 Feb 1989. It was the […]

The tsunami: 10 years on

Groundviews commissioned The Picture Press to capture through photography the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka on Boxing Day, 2004. As journalist Amantha Perera notes, The tsunami took a dramatic toll on unsuspecting Sri Lankans – 35,322 were killed, half a million were displaced, and more than 100,000 houses were destroyed. Half of the damage struck […]

Insights into Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election campaign on social media

On the same day the Centre for Policy Alternatives, through an online survey, flagged the importance of social media in the up-coming Presidential Election to reach young voters, a series of retweets offered a glimpse into the strategic social media eco-system supporting the re-election of the incumbent President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. At 2.17pm today, @mahinda4slanka published […]

Twitter archive of @groundviews: December 2014

Every single one of the nearly 36,600+ tweets published to date by Groundviews as @groundviews can be downloaded as a ZIP file from here. The archive, generated by Twitter, is fully searchable. All the tweets can be downloaded as a CSV file from here (10.3Mb). The archive is also accessible online here. The archive is […]