Wednesday, February 21, 2018 06:08:58 PM

Chinese Whispering in Sri Lanka: On Gossip, Anxieties and Politics

By Dev Pathak - Thu Nov 03, 2:00 am

Featured image courtesy Sri Lanka Unites

Chinese whispering in Sri Lanka is suggestive of at least twofold meanings – literally and metaphorically. One has to do with the geo-political and international trade related issues, as many International Relations experts have put it. This meaning duly emphasises the significant role China plays in Sri Lanka’s economy and foreign policy. The other significant meaning is about the socio-political fabric intrinsic to post-war Sri Lanka, in which the presence of China gives birth to manifold gossiping, some factually substantiated and some others entirely fantastic. But then, fantasies aid in performative notions as many anthropologists have taught us. Thus the truism makes sense that Chinese whispering is not all about China’s presence in Sri Lanka. It is more about the many hushed-up tales and humid gossip looming large over the shores of the Indian Ocean. At least, this is what might attract a wandering anthropologist’s – such as this essayist’s – cruising glance. Some of this gossip and tales are of significant value and they intersect with geo-political perspectives on the relations of China and Sri Lanka, bringing in India to the picture as well — as a perennially anxious entity….

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