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

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]

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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

Playing with majoritarian fire

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.

Commemorating Survival Day, not celebrating Australia Day

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

Cathy Freeman
I mean, I wish I was that babin’ but I’m clearly not.

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

Birthday Post

When I was doing my undergraduate degree, I got a name for myself in some circles of friends as the one involved in community action, the one who ‘cares about the world’ or ‘karma collector’, to reproduce some interesting terms used by friends and acquaintances. In most of my current circles of friends I’m hardly the most involved or most dedicated to social causes. In the former circles, my contribution was the long rants and discussions and information sharing about social justice issues, or pointing out ways in which we participate in injustice without realising it. I know my nagging nature inspired/harassed some of my otherwise disinterested friends to take action on their own or help me in my causes. They inspire me to continue believing in the ability of all of us to be more responsible, be more conscious, take more action, refuse to collaborate in injustice, and so on. However, the process of convincing others, continued apathy, and my own identity in these circles of friends made me wonder what it really takes to get people motivated to take action for community.

 

It was this that motivated me to post this message asking my cyber networks of friends to take action on social causes instead of simply wishing me well or giving me material gifts on my birthday. I wanted to find out three major things. Firstly, what motivates people to take action, think deeply, or be touched by an issue? Secondly, I wanted to see the variety of issues that affected people I knew. Finally, I wanted to know what kind of action people took. Of course, I also wanted to test how many people simply thought ‘what a wonderful idea’ vs. how many actually followed through with it 🙂

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