A while ago I wrote an ineloquent rant about a British article that portrayed Sri Lankan cuisine and its people as curious objects of the tropics, the latter of which didn’t understand what a national treasure our hoppers/aappa/appam were and needed a white woman to ‘discover’ it for international/British consumption. A few weeks ago, while eating said aappa at home watching television I came across this advertisement by Munchee for the release of their new (and admittedly delicious) cracker, the Sun Cracker. It shows a white woman tourist who blogs and internally discusses what makes Sri Lankans such curious people, referring to an interminable number of stereotypes about ‘island people’ such as how they’re ‘easy-going’, ‘agree to anything’, and ‘the best part is, they let things go’. She posits that, oh, it must be because of *drumroll* the Sun (cue images of Sun cracker hidden in people’s hands/pockets). I swallowed my aappa in quiet anger, infuriated at this same caricaturing of Sri Lankans as harmless, happy-go-lucky, sun-dazed simpletons who don’t know what they’re worth and need a benevolent foreigner to point it out. Of course, I was even more so outraged that this advertisement came from a group of Sri Lankans them/ourselves. Since when did we start defining our own self-worth by how foreigners see us? OK, I hear you, since forever. But to the point that we are reproducing this Orientalized image of ourselves to market products to ourselves. My disbelief warrants the double bold-italic emphasis. Continue reading
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
Article published on YourCommonwealth.org
To quote its preamble, the Act aims to ‘to foster a culture of transparency and accountability’ and to ‘thereby promote a society in which the people of Sri Lanka would be able to more fully participate in public life’.
On going live, there was a frenzy of activity with some high profile cases. It is an exciting time for civic engagement in Sri Lanka, as the Right to Information (RTI) officially changes the government culture of secrecy into one of open government and accessibility to all. Continue reading
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]
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
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
- Culture, Arts and Violence
- Miscellaneous anthologies
Document here: sri-lanka-a-bibliography-compiled-by-annemari-de-silva
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
A friend of mine in the US mentioned that Trump standing for elections and being extremist is some tactical political manoeuvre for very different aims (than getting DT elected). Whatever the motive is, it is truly terrifying to see the US using the same shameful tactics used in Sri Lankan politics where majority prejudices are toyed with for political gain. Whatever comes out of this, no foresight from the US players can control the beast they’ve unleashed on their society.
Growing up in Australia, I had no idea what an Aboriginal person looked like. There was a boy in one of the parallel classes who was brown, but not with facial features similar to mine, and I remember thinking as a child, ‘is that an Aborigine’? Many years later, while on exchange in France, I introduced myself as an Australian and a Frenchman asked me whether I was Aboriginal.
When my other Australian and New Zealander friends laughed, he realised his mistake and tried to cover it up by saying it was because I look like Cathy Freeman
For either 6 year old me or my 23 year old friend, the common denominator was ignorance. There is such little talked about Indigenous rights, current affairs, or history that it sometimes becomes impossible to know unless you look for it. For my five years of primary education in Australia, I really don’t remember much attention given to talking about Indigenous people at all. This is devastating, of course, because it is an on-going struggle and one that is gaining momentum in a remarkable way. Continue reading