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Unmaking the Nation: The Politics of Identity and History in Modern Sri Lanka (1995 | 2009).

Pradeep Jeganathan & Qadri Ismail (eds.)

Now in a 2nd Edition, with a new preface, and a comprehensive index.

"Stimulating... Excellent..." -- Journal of Asian Studies. 

"Will be of great value to all those concerned with... nationalism [and] violence..." -- Arjun Appadurai.

"...[F]orces us to think about Sri Lankan symbolic and social formations in an entirely novel fashion." -- Gananath Obeyesekere

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Entries in Sri Lanka (8)

Thursday
Mar152012

Killing Fields 2: Unpunished War Crimes

The much touted C4 show, Killing Fields 2: Unpunished War Crimes is out. I’m calling the first one C4KF and the second C4CU. Indi Samarajeewa has a great review of it; where he re-frames the whole thing; another review in the UK Telegraph just repeats the C4 stuff, and I will get to that at the end of this short post.

As for my own take; I just wrote one from a completely different angle for my Sunday column in the Nation; until that comes out, I have only two highlights from the show I want to note and a question to ask.

Highlights: I thought the best part of flick was the clip of Rajpal screaming at the C4 guys in the media room of the Commonwealth Conference over C4KF. It made me smile; Rajpal didn’t know where to start with them! Do not miss it. The next best clip was CBK almost in tears over C4KF at some talk she gave. I found it interesting they had her cameoing in C4CU; I guess it anchors the politics of it a little better since she is in the running after the 18th amendment. Nice one; getting right ahead of the curve there.

Finally, I am just so confused as always, and I will close with my question. As the review in the Telegraph put it, “… there seemed no doubt that the government had indeed set up special no-fire zones for Tamil civilians — and then fired on them with heavy weaponry. According to a secret UN report, the ‘probability’ that the government had done the shelling was ‘100 per cent.’”

What the review is saying here is, and it’s worth underlining it, because this is indeed not the voice of C4 here, but supposedly, a sane, independent voice speaking, that it is the GoSL who herded the people into a No Fire Zone, and then started shelling them in there. On purpose, as we say in good Sri Lankan English. Neither the review or the movie does not really tell you why they did this, I do not think, but it’s made ‘obvious’ in the context of the whole thing. They are bad Sinhalese, and they just wanted to kill the Tamils. And according to the movie they did. They killed Prabakaran and they killed his son. Then they stopped.

Hey, wait a moment, I got confused now. Why did they stop? Would it not have been more logical to just keep shelling and shelling and kill every one there? All the Tamils in one fell swoop. I mean, there were they right? Why even bother with camps and that whole fuss and bother?

You see in the horror flicks I’ve seen, the killer never stops. And this is a horror flick, right? But some how it they stop pretty quick, and I just wanted to say, I am confused.

 

Monday
Mar122012

Gendered Violence in the North and East of Sri Lanka

The Sinhala service of the BBC, reported a few hours ago, of an "alarming rise of sexual abuse in Jaffna." They quoted Dr S Sivaruban, the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) of the Jaffna Teaching hospital: "There were 102 cases of sexual abuse reported in Jaffna in 2010 and it has increased to 182 in 2011," said Dr Sivaruban.

This, sad, troubling statistic and statement is indicative of the breakdown of social structure in Jaffna, something that I've been picking up on through anecdotal evidence, on the one hand, and published reports on the other. The break down can be attributed to wild swings in explicitly and implicitly enforced social norms, given a pre war, and war time social structure which saw an intertwining of both extreme patriarchal and puritanical ideologies.

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Sunday
Dec042011

A Hundred years before 1956

The government has announced that 2012 will be the year of trilinguality; a key plank of the platform of Mano Ganeshan who placed third in the preference vote tally in the recent Colombo Municipal council elections, was equality of language. It is rare for a government and opposition to agree on anything, but in relation to the this vexed question that has fissured and broken apart this country for so long, there seems to be agreement. But still, even though the equality of Sinhala and Tamil has been constitutional since the 13th amendment of 1987, the reports of the Official Language Commission tell us, we have not made much progress in this regard. Why? Will we ever? What really at bottom holds back language equality?

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Sunday
May172009

Sri Lanka's Conflict: An Interview with PACT (part iii)

In the third installment of his PACT interview Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan, discusses the need for constitutional change, including a brief assessment of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, and examines the relevance of the historical set of ‘grievances of the Tamil people’ today.

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Monday
May042009

Sri Lanka's Conflict: An Interview with PACT (part i)

Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan talks to the PACT team about why it is important to pay particular attention to Sri Lanka’s colonial past when looking at roots of conflict in Sri Lanka.

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Wednesday
Apr222009

A reply to "An American and an outsider"

While it is more than true that both the British colonial government that ruled the country, from 1815-1948, and the independent governments of Ceylon (1948-1972) and Sri Lanka (GoSL, 1972, onwards) are responsible for enormous atrocities – including pogroms, collective punishment, enforced disappearances, mass executions and torture-- some of which, in recent decades, the so called international community has been seriously implicated in several ways, there is not, on my view, at this juncture, a genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka or a will for such a project within the ranks of the GoSL.

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Sunday
Apr192009

"Is the World Ignoring Sri Lanka’s Srebrenica?"

In any reasonable use of language, that is historically and politically sensitive, Srebrenica is a code word code for a deliberate civilian massacre, and has been deemed to be genocide, by the International Court of Justice. There were perpetrators and victims in that example; and justice was demanded and obtained. Surely this is not a word to thrown around, because Mackay and Sen Gupta are 'horrified.'

This is an extremely poor comparison, that holds no water or weight, and Macky's qualifications raise questions either about his judgment, or motives. Or is it just that the meaning of "Srebrenica" is being re-made here: it is now to mean, "oh the 'Horror, the Horror'" in the Heart of Darkness, every where, that natives have (re)made, half naked in loin clothes no doubt, after the good white folk left.

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Wednesday
Apr152009

The Politics of IMF Conditions

There is a tendency I detect, especially among those in the corporate sector, who are as conscious of their location and responsibilities as nationals of this country, as I am, to view what ever conditions the Fund may impose as being beyond politics; good technocratic advise that we must take, for our own good. This is of course prompted in part by the mismanagement in a context of hyper politicization of our own monetary policy, but its also catalyzed by a view, infrequently challenged, in the English language press in this country at least, that the Bank the Fund and their allied institutions are rule-governed and ethical, non-political, technocratic and expert, almost infallible. But are they really?

Not at all. The World Bank and IMF come out of a neo-imperial arraignment through which the US and Europe still attempt to rule the world; it still goes with out saying the head of the Bank is a US citizen and head of the Fund, a European, with the US having a veto on IMF policies. And their respective Boards push for policies that will assist these national formations. Furthermore, the US itself does not subject itself to scrutiny from the IMF.

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