Join Dr. Thushara Hewage, Assistant Professor of Anthropology as the University of Ottawa, next Thursday April 4 at 12:15 in Barnes Science Center room 407 for his talk “Rethinking The Problem of Sinhala Nationalism: Majority, Minority and Democracy in the Postcolony”. This event is sponsored by the Program in Asian Studies and the Department of Anthropology.

“Sri Lanka’s modern history has been punctuated by periodic Sinhalese majority pogroms against the island’s minority communities. This violence and the obstacle of Sinhalese nationalism poses to the resolution of Sri Lanka’s ‘national question’ of minority political rights is conventionally theorized in terms of the tenacious cultural hold of ethnic ideology over Sinhalese Buddhist selves. Questioning the adequacy of such models, my talk problematizes Sinhalese majoritarianism from a different angle, focusing on the predominantly Sinhalese Marxist political party, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front), examining the articulation of a Sinhalese constituency’s claim on the Sri Lankan state, and exploring its historical contingency. I suggest that this claim is less profitably analyzed in ethnic ideological terms. Rather, it indexes a problem of the secular production of majorities and minorities, integral to the operation of democracy in many postcolonial societies.

Posted by for the March 28, 2019 digest.

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