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The Inevitability of the Banana Republic

Image courtesy Bloomberg Sri Lanka has been a ‘banana republic,’ for quite some time, and clearly so throughout the oligarchy of the Rajapaksas. Formally, a banana republic is “a small country that is economically dependent on a single export commodity, such as bananas, and is typically governed by a dictator or the armed forces.”[1] But in […]

The Use of Strategic Considerations in Elections

Photograph by REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte, via Daily Nation On what criteria should we vote in elections? Should it based on the issues closest to our own, irrespective of likely consequences? Or should it be strategic, designed to achieve the best possible results (long term and immediate)? I have been mostly Colombo based and voting since the parliamentary […]

The Deconstruction of a Supremacist

Photo via Al Jazeera Notwithstanding his rise to ultimate  power as a politician in this country,  Mahinda Rajapaksa retains the mindset of  an uneducated peasant , in this instance  from Giruwapattuwa. Despite being one of the most shrewd, and one of the most successful  political manipulators in the short independent history of this country, he […]

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 […]

From Real Election to Realpolitik

Photograph courtesy Wall Street Journal “His (Mahinda Rajapaksa’s) chief interest will be to strike a deal on the corruption investigations against himself and his family.” Manik de Silva (CNN – 19.8.2015) The UPFA fought two consecutive elections in an imaginary country and lost them both. In that imaginary country the minority vote was of less […]

A word from an academic to the new Government

Let me first congratulate President Mr. Maithripala Sirisena and the elections commissioner Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya for bringing such an honor to Sri Lanka from across the Globe for the high standard of the General Election 2015. I returned to Sri Lanka and joined the staff of the University of Moratuwa in 2003 mainly to start […]

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 […]

9 years after disappearance of Fr. Jim Brown & Mr. Vimalathas

9 years ago, on 20th August 2006, Fr. Jim Brown and Mr. Vimalathas disappeared after having been last seen at a Navy checkpoint in Allaipiddy, Jaffna[1]. Few days before, Fr. Jim Brown had been threatened by a Navy officer. There had also been tension between him and the Navy, as the Catholic Priest had pleaded with […]

Letter by President Maithripala Sirisena to Mahinda Rajapaksa

Official translation, sent to us by the Presidential Secretariat, of the letter by President Maithripala Sirisena to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, penned on 13 August 2015. For Rajpaksa’s response to this letter (in Sinhala) see here. Image courtesy ### Dear Mr. Mahinda Rajapasksa, I am writing to you today, in my capacity as the chairman […]

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 […]


Photo by AP Photo/Sanka Gayashan, via Japan Times A slogan from one of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s campaign websites for tomorrow’s election reads, “Let’s start afresh”. Looking at it harder, the slogan is as audacious as it is insulting. When you strip away its optimistic posturing, the slogan’s meaning becomes clear: Just imagine the former president, as […]

PANEL DISCUSSION: Transforming politics for transitional justice

Today (Saturday, 15th), 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 does mainstream politics have to play in memorialising the inconvenient and the violent? How can the responsibility to serve the best interests of all those in a constituency override more […]

Sights of violence, sites of memory: Reframing the past

Keynote on ‘Sights of Violence, Sites of Memory: Reframing the Past’ delivered on the 13th of August, 2015 for ‘Framing the Past: Untying the Future’, 11th -17th of August 2015, Park street Mews, exhibition curated by Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives and Editor of Groundviews, Sanjana Hattotuwa, in collaboration with Artraker (United […]