Agribusiness undoing the legacy of Fr. Michael Rodrigo

On the dirt road from Wellawaya to Buttala, there stood two little shacks in a small expanse of garden. One would often spot an elderly gentleman there dressed in a sarong and simple baniyan. Peering out at the world from his characteristically oversized glasses, Fr. Mike, as he was referred to affectionately, seemed like any other villager from Buttala, an isolated farming village in the eastern district of Moneragala in Sri Lanka. Yet he was something quite out of the ordinary. Continue reading

Review of Mesh Academy’s ‘Deconstruct the Embody’

(pix courtesy Malaka Premasiri)

On April 1, the crowd at the Lionel Wendt gallery kept buzzing, ‘What do you think it meant?’ They had been captivated by Mesh Academy of  Dance’s Deconstruct the Embody but were struggling to make head or tail of it. Different ideas floated amongst people: some believed the dance had a storyline about escape, others connected emotionally with the frustrated, screaming bodies, others yet remained gobsmacked and chuckled to themselves about the shock of the performance.

Deconstruct the Embody was a multimedia performance combining the choregraphy of Umeshi Rajeendra with photography by Malaka Premasiri. As an abstract, experimental piece, it was a much-needed addition to Sri Lanka’s artistic landscape. It thoroughly disrupted the audience’s expectation of neat storylines or clear messages and demanded instead that you connect with the tensions of lighting and movement. Continue reading

Dynasty and Double Standards: Women Leaders in South Asia

This article was published by Roar.lk. Full article here: http://roar.lk/features/of-dynasty-and-double-standards-women-leaders-in-south-asia/

While the U.S. has arguably shown the world that it would rather have a leader that grabs pussies than has one, in South Asia only the Maldives and Bhutan (which is a patrilineal monarchy in any case) have not had a female head of state. Political scientists have been fascinated by this exceptionalism of female leadership in Asia but much of the research says the same thing.

“… the easiest way for a woman to enter politics is to marry a politician”[i]

Continue reading

Education pipedreams 2017

I used to have a nuanced view about the problems around employing foreign-educated graduates in Sri Lanka vs. encouraging locally-educated graduates. The protests by university student unions, medical students, and a host of other youth who had bought into the free education rainbow only to find no pot of golden jobs at the end – I sympathized with them and would advocate their position amongst acquaintances who complained about these ‘ever-protesting, ever-complaining, ungrateful students’. I advocated for the matching of local graduates with jobs straight out of university, even if it came at the cost of more difficult procedures for foreign graduates. Not anymore. Continue reading

Sri Lanka – a Bibliography on arts, culture and politics

I compiled this bibliography for The School of Oriental and African Studies where I was a Chevening Scholar completing my Masters in 2015-2016. My major was in the Politics of Culture and my research focused primarily on the nexus between arts, culture, and politics in 20th and 21st century Sri Lanka.

Contents are as follows:

  • Politics and History: Civil War, Ethnicity, Insurgency
  • Politics and Theatre
  • Language, Politics, and Linguistic Nationalism
  • Literary histories, overviews, and the politics of literature
  • Cinema
  • Culture, Arts and Violence
  • Miscellaneous anthologies

Document here: sri-lanka-a-bibliography-compiled-by-annemari-de-silva

On Mother’s Day 2016

Here’s to those who choose to and do not choose to become mothers
to those who are trying to or trying not to
to those who can and those who can’t
or who still wonder whether to
to those who know they don’t want to
to those who are but didn’t choose to be
to those who are but didn’t expect to be
to those who are and wanted to be
to those who are.
Here’s to the women who are people too
who don’t want to be defined by being a mother
or not being one
Here’s to the people and institutions and legislations and communities supporting whatever choice is made.
Here’s to the people who have to make that choice.

This poem was later submitted to and published by the Kavithé Collective here. Kavithé Collective ie ‘a collective of writers from Sri Lanka scattered across the world who want to see more creative writing engaged with social and political realities.  Kavithé is also a space for work that is identifiably of Sri Lanka: its sounds, smells, situations…’. See more about them