Thursday, January 18, 2018 12:25:06 AM

Preliminary Considerations for a Speculative Critique of Sinhala Nationalism

By Vangeesa Sumanasekara - Sun Jun 19, 10:55 pm

Photo from DBS Jeyaraj

The name Nalin de Silva helps us to determine a certain ambiguity in – what remains of – the Sri Lankan academic discourse. On the one hand, he is often identified as a figure of undisputed significance in the rise of contemporary Sinahala nationalism, and, in this regard, he is considered as an important point of reference in any attempt to understand the developments of Southern nationalist discourse and its impact on the political fate of our collective life. On the other hand, there is very little direct acknowledgement of the necessity of confronting his works in order to identify the problems and limits of the Idea of the Nation propagated by contemporary Sinhala Nationalism. It is as if there is a silent agreement that criticizing the works of Nalin de Silva is not worth the effort of a serious academic labour – it is always pushed aside as the duty of the Other. In this duty of carrying the difficult engagement with a somewhat embarrassing issue is always transferred to the Other so that one can continue to go on living in his/her comfort zones believing that the Other would somehow do the necessary dirty work. Let me be that Other.

The basic strategy of my investigation is the following. Instead of focusing on the particular arguments raised by Nalin de Silva, apropos a wide array of issues, ranging from the Tamil nationalism to modern science, I will take out what I consider to be the core insight of de Silva’s thinking which is fully elaborated in his influential 1985 work “මගේ ලෝකය” (“My World”)….

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