« Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History » Edited by Zoltan Biedermann and Alan Strathern

UCL Press has announced the publication of Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, edited by Zoltán Biedermann and Alan Strathern. Note that in addition to the hardback and paperback editions, the book is available at no cost as a pdf file.

For more information, go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/…/sri-lanka-at-the-crossroads-of-histo…

« Kadir’s Daughter Launches His Biography Today On 10th Death Anniversary » by Colombo Telegraph

‘The Cake that was Baked at Home’ attempts to unveil lesser known aspects Kadirgamar’s life. Told through Ajita’s memories, stories and recollections by those who knew him, extracts of published media and tributes composed specifically for the book, she endeavours to shed light on facets of a brilliant and complex man. Kadirgamar spent the last ten years of his life in the harsh and sometimes unforgiving public spotlight, adored by some, declared a traitor by others, all the while knowing he was constantly being targeted by the LTTE.

The 440 page book is also the author’s personal journey of healing and discovery where she poses the question, ‘Do we ever really know a person, even one’s own parent?’ Ajita admits in the concluding chapter, ‘People will certainly ask what kind of a daughter I am, that I can be so critical and judgmental about this much loved and respected man. They will see me as tarnishing a hero’s image. Well, I’m the kind of daughter who tells it like it is, and more so with advancing age. The fact remains that his greatness came at a price. We paid the price. We paid the price for his single minded ambition, drive and brilliance that led him to the highest echelons of public office. We stood in the wings helplessly as, first a woman and then a whole nation hijacked him as their own.’

see: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/kadirs-daughter-launches-his-biography-today-on-10th-death-anniversary/

« Ayya’s Accounts: A Ledger of Hope in Modern India » by Anand Pandian and M.P. Mariappan

We would like to signal the publication of an interesting book of Anand Pandian and M.P. Mariappan « Ayya’s Accounts: A Ledger of Hope in Modern India »



Ayya’s Accounts explores the life of an ordinary man—orphan, refugee, shopkeeper, and grandfather—during a century of tremendous hope and upheaval. Born in colonial India into a despised caste of former tree climbers, Ayya lost his mother as a child and came of age in a small town in lowland Burma. Forced to flee at the outbreak of World War II, he made a treacherous 1,700-mile journey by foot, boat, bullock cart, and rail back to southern India. Becoming a successful fruit merchant, Ayya educated and eventually settled many of his descendants in the United States. Luck, nerve, subterfuge, and sorrow all have their place along the precarious route of his advancement. Emerging out of tales told to his American grandson, Ayya’s Accounts embodies a simple faith—that the story of a place as large and complex as modern India can be told through the life of a single individual.

You could read an insightful interview with the author on the book: IndiaAbroadS

For more informations: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?cPath=1037_6118_6161&products_id=807225

About the Authors

Anand Pandian is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. He is author of Crooked Stalks: Cultivating Virtue in South India, co-editor of Ethical Life in South Asia (IUP, 2011) and Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference, and a contributor toEveryday Life in South Asia (IUP, 2010).

M. P. Mariappan (1919-2014) was a retired fruit merchant living in the south Indian city of Madurai at the time he co-authored Ayya’s Accounts.

« Life Beyond Survival Social Forms of Coping After the Tsunami in War-affected Eastern Sri Lanka » by Katharina Thurnheer

At the heart of this in-depth ethnographic study lie the daily life situations of tsunami survivors in war-torn, eastern Sri Lanka. Each chapter is built around the empirical themes derived from the stories and recollections of Tamil women and their families during their stay in relief camps, anticipating relocation. The specifics of the socio-cultural context are firmly embedded in the discussions. Ten years after the tsunami, this publication offers a timely contribution to a better understanding of what it means to cope with the combined effects of disaster, war, and international aid in this matri-focal region of the island.

via: http://www.transcript-verlag.de/978-3-8376-2601-8/life-beyond-survival


« Anthropology, Politics, and Place in Sri Lanka: South Asian Reflections from an Island Adrift » by Jonathan Spencer


How does the idea of ‘South Asia’ play out in the politics and public culture of Sri Lanka? As an island, long connected by the trade routes of the Indian Ocean, it has always been a place of comings and goings. Yet, paradoxically, this fact seems to often generate efforts to imagine it as necessarily bounded and unattached to the adjacent subcontinent. The problems of place-making that follow from this move, it is suggested, may be a source of Sri Lanka’s success as a producer of extraordinary anthropologists—anthropologists like the late Stanley Tambiah, whose research in Thailand was self-consciously conceived as a way of understanding the peculiar dilemmas of his homeland.

via: http://samaj.revues.org/3812

REVUE SAMAJ n°10 / Ideas of South Asia / Symbolic Representations and Political Uses

SAMAJ is pleased to announce the publication of its tenth thematic issue:

South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal

Ideas of South Asia
Symbolic Representations and Political Uses

edited by Aminah Mohammad-Arif and Blandine Ripert


accessible in full at http://samaj.revues.org/3699

Introduction. Imaginations and Constructions of South Asia: An Enchanting Abstraction?
by Aminah Mohammad-Arif

‘India, that is Bharat…’: One Country, Two Names
by Catherine Clémentin-Ojha

India in the Muslim Imagination: Cartography and Landscape in 19th Century Urdu Literature
by Faisal Devji

A Strange Love of the Land: Identity, Poetry and Politics in the (Un)Making of South Asia
by Sudipta Kaviraj

Poetics and Politics of Borderland Dwelling: Baltis in Kargil
by Radhika Gupta

Impasse and Opportunity: Reframing Postcolonial Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border
by Jason Cons

Anthropology, Politics, and Place in Sri Lanka: South Asian Reflections from an Island Adrift
by Jonathan Spencer

Thinking India in South Africa: Gandhi’s Conundrum
by Claude Markovits

The Construction, Mobilization and Limits of South Asianism in North America
by Anouck Carsignol

From South Asia to Southasianism: A Nepalese Activist’s Perspective. An interview with Kanak Mani Dixit
by Blandine Ripert

Afterword. On Region and Nation
by Sanjay Subrahmanyam

Other recent publications:

Free-Standing Articles

Cosmopolitan Soirées in Eighteenth-Century North India: Reception of early Urdu poetry in Kishangarh
by Heidi Pauwels

Murder in the Andamans: A Colonial Narrative of Sodomy, Jealousy and Violence
by Manju Ludwig

Contesting Consensus. Disputing Inequality: Agonistic Subjectivities in Rural Bihar
by Indrajit Roy

Click here for all free-standing articles

Book Reviews

Judith Pettigrew, Maoists at the Hearth: Everyday Life in Nepal’s Civil War
by Dan V. Hirslund

Tapan K. Ghosh, Bollywood Baddies: Villains, Vamps and Henchmen in Hindi Cinema
by Imke Rajamani

Thinking the Difference: On Feminism and Postcolony [review essay]
by Anne Castaing

Click here for all book reviews

Previous thematic issues:

9 | 2014
Imagining Bangladesh: Contested Narratives
edited by Benjamin Zeitlyn, Manpreet K. Janeja & José Mapril (SAMAJ-EASAS Series)

8 | 2013
Delhi’s Margins
edited by Radhika Govinda (SAMAJ-EASAS Series)

7 | 2013
The Ethics of Self-Making in Postcolonial India
edited by Uday Chandra & Atreyee Majumder

Click here for all thematic issues

« Complexity of “Loyalty”, “Betrayal” and Metaphors of Eelam in Shobhasakthi’s “Traitor” » by

« Shobhasakthi’s Traitor ends with a surrealistic description where an old man wandering about the mountains with a corpse which he carries – a corpse which he uses to entertain, disgust and even to drive away people; which he sometimes uses for his own sustenance – encounters a carter going uphill caught in a predicament with its horse which wouldn’t budge. The carter whispers in the horse’s ear, tries a mild stroking from its whip and – all failing – thrashes the beast with all his might. The old man, who with his corpse is seated nearby, is visibly moved and intervenes. This abstraction with which the novel ends is a surrealistic summing up of the fate of the Eelamist struggle and the fate of its various stakeholders. »

via: http://slwakes.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/complexity-of-loyalty-betrayal-and-metaphors-of-eelam-in-shobhasakthis-traitor/

2nd volume of Ben Bavinck’s diary « Of Tamils and Tigers: A Journey Through Sri Lanka’s War Years »

We would like to bring to your attention anew book on Sri Lanka, volume 2 of Ben Bavinck, Of Tamils and Tigers: A Journey Through Sri Lanka’s War Years (Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014).

The first volume, which was published in 2010, covered the period 1988 through 1994.  Valentine Daniel’s foreword to this volume noted that Bavinck’s diary entries provide ‘a record of what he had seen and has now witnessed; an emotionally charged landscape that was at once subtle and plain, complex and transparent, objective yet interpreted. This diary is a gift, not only to the historian and research scholar, but to every (Sri Lankan) citizen, whatever be the state with which he or she chooses to identify himself/herself with.’

The second volume covers the period 1994-2004, when Bavinck was mostly in Jaffna.

Both volumes have been made available through the efforts of the Rajani Thiranagama Memorial Committee.
source: AISLS

new book by Zoltán Biedermann on Portuguese in Sri Lanka and South India

Zoltán Biedermann’s book explores the Portuguese presence in Sri Lanka and South India with an emphasis on connections, interactions and adaptations. An introduction, six freshly revised case studies and an afterword provide historical insights into the making of Portuguese power in the region and point out new ways forward in the study of the subject. Themes explored include Portuguese diplomacy in Asia, the connected histories of Portugal, Sri Lanka and the Habsburg Empire, the importance of cartography for the development of Iberian ideas of conquest, the political mechanisms that allowed for the incorporation of Sri Lanka into the Catholic Monarchy of Philip II, and the remarkable resilience of elephant hunting and trading activities in Ceylon during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A long chapter delves into the comparative urban histories of Portuguese and Dutch colonial ports in South Asia and reveals intriguing connections between colonialism, local identities and cosmopolitan attitudes. Taken together, the essays in this book question simplistic contrasts between Europe and Asia as well as between the Portuguese and the Dutch empires. The Portuguese in Sri Lanka and South Asia highlights the complex connections between the global and the local in early modern European-Asian interactions.

Biedermann Z., 2014, The Portuguese in Sri Lanka and South India Studies in the History of Diplomacy, Empire and Trade, 1500-1650, Harrassowitz Verlag/Maritime Asia, 205 p.

« Life Beyond Survival: Social Forms of Coping after the Tsunami in War-Affected Eastern Sri Lanka » by Katharina Thurnheer

We would like to draw your attention to a new book by Katharina Thurnheer, Life Beyond Survival: Social Forms of Coping after the Tsunami in War-Affected Eastern Sri Lanka.  It is published in Germany by Transcript Verlag, and distributed in the United States by Columbia University Press.  Ordering information is at http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-3-8376-2601-8/life-beyond-survival.

below the publisher’s description of the book.

At the heart of this in-depth ethnographic study lie the daily life situations of tsunami survivors in war-torn, eastern Sri Lanka. Each chapter is built around the empirical themes derived from the stories and recollections of Tamil women and their families during their stay in relief camps, anticipating relocation. The specifics of the socio-cultural context are firmly embedded in the discussions. Ten years after the tsunami, this publication offers a timely contribution to a better understanding of what it means to cope with the combined effects of disaster, war, and international aid in this matri-focal region of the island.

About the Author

Katharina Thurnheer (PhD) is an associate researcher at the Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Bern. Her research interests focus on war, disaster, international aid, and gender.

Research Paper from the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, « Competing for Victimhood Status: Northern Muslims and the Ironies of Post-war Reconciliation, Justice, and Development. »

The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is pleased to announce the launch of Working Paper No: 13 on the theme of Post War Reconciliation titled,Competing for Victimhood Status: Northern Muslims and the Ironies of Post-War Reconciliation, Justice and evelopment by Farzana Haniffa.

The northern Muslims together with all protracted IDPs displaced prior to 2008 became a low priority case load for return and resettlement assistance in the aftermath of the ‘end’ of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009. Framed in terms of an ethics of ‘greatest need’ connected only to funding availability, all Old IDPs lost out in the resettlement process. This paper attempts to decentre this idea of economic limits and humanitarian need by discussing the manner in which such ideas of ‘greatest need’ actually emerge from discourses about victimhood that are part of an ethical humanitarian project to which local politics are irrelevant. This paper will show, however that these initiatives consistently intersect with local power hierarchies and local ideas of legitimacy and belonging. Therefore this paper will look at the manner in which the war related victim discourse of International Humanitarianism, helped to exacerbate northern Muslims own marginality and continued exclusion from the north. Looking also at the manner in which victimhood narratives are mobilizsed in Sri Lanka by electoral politics, and displaced IDP activists themselves, this paper will speculate about the efficacy of the victim identity for political and social transformation during this time of transition in Sri Lanka.

This paper can be downloaded via this link

Box: PDF 

Scribd PDF (Facebook required for download)

source: ICES

Collection Archives ouvertes du Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CEIAS)

La collection Archives ouvertes du Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CEIAS) regroupe les documents (articles, pré-publications, chapitres d’ouvrages, actes de colloques) des membres du Centre et de leurs co-auteurs.

Lien pour y accéder:


“Indians in Singapore, 1819 -1945: Diaspora in the Colonial Port City”, a book by Dr Rajesh Rai


Singapore is home to Indian ethnic groups and Indian individuals have long made indelible marks on the nation. Indian Independence Day, celebrated annually on August 15th, commemorates India’s independence from Great Britain in 1947. “Indians in Singapore, 1819 -1945: Diaspora in the Colonial Port City”, a book by Dr Rajesh Rai (Assistant Professor, FASS South Asian Studies Programme), explores the Indian diaspora in colonial Singapore and reveals how this immigrant community affected and was affected by Singapore’s evolution.

Abstract: Indians in Singapore, 1819 -1945 is the first comprehensive study of the Indian diaspora in colonial Singapore. Drawing on administrative archives, intelligence reports, observer accounts, newspapers, oral testimonies, and community-based records, the book provides a meticulous historical account of the formation of the diaspora in the colonial port-city, and its socio-political, religious and cultural development from the advent of British colonial rule to the end of the Japanese occupation. Indians in Singapore examines how the conditions of living as a minority in a multi-ethnic port-city; changes in colonial ideologies, administration and economy; developments in information-communication technologies; and transnational religious and socio-political currents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, shaped Indian identity formations. What emerges is a fascinating account of how these Indian emigrants, by virtue of their unique vantage point in a frontier settlement that transformed into a metropolis of global significance, negotiated their position vis-à-vis the powers at hand and external processes in motion. In doing so, it reveals the distinct and complex nature of the historical journey of Indian migrants in the urban landscape of the colonial port-city – an aspect of diaspora studies that has received little attention in erstwhile scholarship.

Check out the links for more about the book!




« Childhood in a Sri Lankan Village : Shaping Hierarchy and Desire » by Bambi L. Chapin


Like toddlers all over the world, Sri Lankan children go through a period that in the U.S. is referred to as the “terrible twos.” Yet once they reach elementary school age, they appear uncannily passive, compliant, and undemanding compared to their Western counterparts. Clearly, these children have undergone some process of socialization, but what?

Over ten years ago, anthropologist Bambi Chapin traveled to a rural Sri Lankan village to begin answering this question, getting to know the toddlers in the village, then returning to track their development over the course of the following decade. Childhood in a Sri Lankan Village offers an intimate look at how these children, raised on the tenets of Buddhism, are trained to set aside selfish desires for the good of their families and the community. Chapin reveals how this cultural conditioning is carried out through small everyday practices, including eating and sleeping arrangements, yet she also explores how the village’s attitudes and customs continue to evolve with each new generation.

Combining penetrating psychological insights with a rigorous observation of larger social structures, Chapin enables us to see the world through the eyes of Sri Lankan children searching for a place within their families and communities. Childhood in a Sri Lankan Villageoffers a fresh, global perspective on child development and the transmission of culture.


« What makes this book so special is that it does not stop at description, as do most ethnographies. It goes on to explain Sinhalese childhood and child rearing, doing so within a well-considered, smartly-deployed psychoanalytic framework. »

—Naomi Quinn, professor emerita, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

« Chapin’s work is a significant contribution to the anthropology of childhood. It tackles important questions about the meaning of child care practices and patterns. »

—Jill E. Korbin, Department of Anthropology and Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western R

Author / Editor Bio

BAMBI L. CHAPIN is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Table Of Contents

Note on Translation and Transliteration

1. Introduction
2. Sri Lanka: Setting the Ethnographic Context
3. Socializing Desire: Demanding Toddlers and Self-Restrained Children
4. Shaping Attachments: Learning Hierarchy at Home
5. Making Sense of Envy: Desire and Relationships in Conflict
6. Engaging with Hierarchy outside the Home: Education and Efforts at Change
7. Culturing People