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Territorial Spaces and National Identities: Representations of Sri Lanka1

In South Asia xx (1998): 23-50 Nihal Perera Professor of Urban Planning Ball State University

Introduction According to the dominant rhetoric, the territorial integrity of the modern state is inviolable. Political geographer Peter Taylor notes that the idea of “nation” permeates the study of political geography to such a degree that the concept has been seen as largely unproblematic.2 Even in the postcolonial periphery, the notion of the nation-state has been sanctified for over a century. Yet in practice --from Northern Ireland to Irian Jaya-- this principle is constantly being challenged, drawing our attention to the continuing processes of construction, reproduction, and contestation of national territorial spaces and their representations. These contemporary struggles also remind us that the spaces of “national” representation and the spatial representation of “nations” have been at odds for a long time. I employ “national” here broadly to stand for “peoplehood.” Whether in the top-down homogenization of a people living in a particular territory into a nation or the bottom-up undertaking by a particular cultural group to construct a politically defined territory for themselves, “nationalism ” is used to interpret the flagrant expression of this conflict. Nationalism has become increasingly important in recent scholarship. Yet for the most part, the aim has been to capture the phenomenon of what is called nationalism in a simple Eurocentric “scientific” manner. For example, Spencer notes that “Each nationalism is based upon the assumption that people are naturally divisible into different kinds --known as nations-- and ideally

Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 2 each kind should have the responsibility for its own governance.”3 Nationalisms, however, are much more complex than this suggests, not least Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka. I am, therefore, inclined to examine how these political positions are constructed. As Kemper argues, the strength of nationalism, or any other political movement, is its ability to draw on sentiments --language, religion, family, culture-- that seem natural and autochthonous.4 Sahlins asserts that the idea that the past is either continuous with the present or discontinuous from it is a false dichotomy; “every reproduction of culture is an alteration, insofar as in action, the categories by which the present world is orchestrated pick up some novel empirical content.”5 Despite its horrors, nationalism can also be viewed as a mechanism for the reproduction of cultures. Getting out of the immediate opposition between the separatists and the Sri Lankan government, or the Tamils and the Singhalese which these parties claim to represent, this paper explores the broader spatial context in which this nationalist conflict takes place. In the course of examining the context of colonizing Ceylon, its move to independence, and the contemporary separatist movement, I shall inquire into the construction and contestation of Ceylon’s nationalterritorial space, particularly the territory, boundaries, capital, and its centrality and domain. The paper will focus on the various and different representations of this space by the colonial British, Sri Lanka’s national leaders, and contemporary militant groups, particularly Tamil separatists. I shall argue that the colonial British not only produced Sri Lanka’s national space but also hegemonized the notion of its territoriality, a notion which, so far, has resisted and contained the efforts of its challengers. Every challenge to this colonially-produced “national” space has caused significant transformations in Sri Lanka. Yet at the same time, these challenges have been strongly characterized by their “oppositional politics” that move under the sign of irony; “fighting on a

Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 3 terrain already mapped out by [their] antagonists.”6


The Colonial Construction of Ceylon The beginning of European expansion in the sixteenth century was also the beginning of

European colonialism in today’s Sri Lanka. However, apart from acquiring patches of territory along the coasts, almost three centuries of Portuguese (1505-1656) and Dutch (1656-1796) efforts to conquer the whole island of Lanka were futile. Here I use the more historic “Lanka” to identify the island now known as Sri Lanka before European colonization. It was finally the British who took over the Dutch controlled territory of Ceylon in 1796, eventually appropriating the whole island in 1815. Despite their early interests in the northeastern port of Trincomalee, the British used Colombo as the node from which to transform Ceylon into a unified political territory within the British Empire. In so doing, they also destroyed the territorial self of the last Lankan kingdom of Kandy, eliminating all significant traces of indigenous political power and cultural identity. Combining the name and the territorial self, it was the British who finally produced Ceylon.

Making Ceylon a “National” Territory For the British, the initial geo-strategic importance of Ceylon emerged as a result of the shift in European colonial competition in the eastern parts of continental India. While the early Portuguese settlements in the Indian sub-continent were limited to the west coast, from the seventeenth century, the Dutch, the British, and the French were expanding their colonial frontiers to the eastern parts. The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), in which India had been an important locus of Franco-British conflicts, transformed the Bay of Bengal into a significant region of

waged a little more than a year after the conquest. Once taken over. Ceylon’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean made it necessary for the British authorities to hold it as a Crown Colony. the Ceylonese revolt of 1797-8. from the west to the east. It was this need that made Trincomalee Bay. Most significantly. from the 1740s. in the north-east of Ceylon.8 Although the British had. important for the European colonial competition from the mid eighteenth century. The use of political events in the colonies to negotiate conflicts between the agencies of the metropole was not limited to Ceylon. been using Trincomalee from time to time. the British captured the whole of Dutch controlled Ceylon in 1796. if the Dutch had succeeded in . was used by the British government to fulfil its aims of gaining control of the island. The settlement made between Company and Crown authorities in London and Calcutta largely determined the future of Ceylon as a separate national territory. separate from the territories in continental India which were under the English East India Company. the Company favored holding it under the Madras government (the forces of which had conquered Ceylon). the control of those territories was also transferred from the East India Company to the Crown in 1858.7 This geographical shift of European warfare in India. as a part of a comprehensive operation to gain control of about a dozen Dutch territories. whereas the British government wanted it to be directly under the Crown.10 Although the process of negotiation had already begun. Ceylon could have well been integrated into a future India state by the British. which later constituted a part of India.9 In the conflict between the Company and the British authorities over who should control Ceylon.11 Similarly.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 4 conflict. especially since it was conquered and ruled for a short period by the Company forces of the Madras Presidency. after the 1857 rebellion in India. Like former southern Indian kingdoms. precipitated the strategic need for a naval base in the Bay of Bengal.

12 Yet the imagined territory which the Portuguese appropriated was the whole island. both European and indigenous. (See fig 1) Portuguese invaders had also thought of the whole island as a single cultural and social space. for the British. but was nonetheless dominated by the British. Although the Irawaddy Delta and the province of Pegu were conquered only in 1852. including Kandy. however. Spaces of Representation and Representational Spaces Although the territory initially appropriated from the Dutch was limited to the coastal belt. especially when the King of Portugal had become heir to the Kotte kingdom after the death of its king in 1597. Although Kotte was --with Sitavaka. Lower Burma provides a similar example of conflict between space in practice and representational space.13 . by the late century it had already been reduced to a Portuguese protectorate and had shrunk in size. This is not an isolated case. The full process of establishing a Crown Colony materialized after the Peace of Amiens which formally ceded Ceylon from the Dutch to the British. The establishment of the Crown Colony in 1802. “Ceylon” represented the whole island. and Kandy-. made Ceylon a separate politico-territory. a colony within the Empire. Jaffnapatam. itself stood for the whole island.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 5 restoring it to the Batavian Republic at the Peace of Amiens (1802). The European name.one of four quite separate kingdoms on the island in the early sixteenth century. the British declared both those as part of their colony of Lower Burma along with what they had conquered earlier in 1826. a corruption of the Singhalese Sihala Dveepa. Hence. Ceylon could well have become a part of today’s Indonesia. Ceylon. the territorial space of colonial Ceylon was constructed through negotiations between various agencies.

the British not only acquired all the Dutch controlled territories of Ceylon. did not represent a politico-territory. or hill country).15 In this sense. nor did the kingdom have physical boundaries.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 6 Unifying the island’s politico-territory under their own kingdom had also been a social and spatial conception of the “Singhalese” monarchs.17 The easing of European competition and the conquest of Ceylon had shifted British attention from the acquisition of a reliable port in the Bay of Bengal to protect their interests in India. The outer peripheries of Lankan kingdoms were. such as the Kandy country (from Kande Uda Rata.14 This idea refers to a particular “golden period” in history (known as the period of Rajarata Civilization --the third century BC to the twelfth century AD). Reproduction of Colombo’s “Centrality” Despite their initial interest in Trincomalee.16 Hence the congruence between the colony and the island that Ceylon represented was a European colonial construction which assumed a totalized relationship between these social and territorial units. Lankan kingdoms were principally identified according to their metropolitical center. of which the capital was Colombo. Yet Lanka. or the region in which they were located. subjecting the whole island to the British authority. to that of appropriating the established port of Colombo. but also followed their spatial organization. the kingdom was defined by the center and its reach and not by its boundary. or Sihala Dveepa. a . at the end of the Seven Years’ War. for example. A principal cause for the shift of political and geographical interest in Ceylon from Trincomalee to Colombo was a shift in the balance of power among European imperial states. Kotte Kingdom. in Britain’s favor. closer to the notion of “frontiers” than boundaries. Colombo’s function was to expand outward. therefore. Instead. in which there was only one kingdom on the island. In this context.

”21 In Colombo. I think.”19 The British Governors’ drive to construct Ceylon around Colombo was apparent from the beginning of British rule in Ceylon. As a Crown Colony. and other Crown Colonies. its harbours. particularly in the British desire to link Colombo and Trincomalee overland across Kandyan country. and the treasures which I suspect are hidden in the bowels of its lofty mountains. Ceylon was ruled by the British authorities in London. Colombo was also more strategic for the establishment of control over Ceylon. In constructing the vital link between London and Colombo. subjecting the island to Colombo’s sphere of domination. expanding the European maritime world in the Indian Ocean. and organizing it as a part of the larger Empire. the office of Governor was established in 1802. “[Ceylon’s] central situation.18 Within this European representation of Ceylon. the Governor. a British traveller who visited Colombo at the beginning of the nineteenth century reveals this curiosity.20 The Agent’s duty was “to execute all directions received from the Government of Ceylon and the Secretary of State or the Treasury in this colony in reference to the wants or concerns of the colony. render it one of our most valuable possessions. a Colonial Agency was established in London in 1801. George Viscount Valentia. through its agent in Colombo. It was located in the mostly populated area and also provided the potentially most convenient access to the remaining Lankan kingdom of Kandy which the southern port city of Galle did not. its produce. Colombo’s function was to spread outward. the attention of every European imperial power was inevitably drawn to the wealth that they assumed was hidden in the interior.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 7 strategic requirement for their broader domination of the Indian Ocean. Ceylon’s meaning for the next one and a half centuries was to lay in the .22 centralizing the authority as well as the responsibility over Ceylon. will. Once Colombo was acquired.

23 Vesting formal political responsibility in a single office --that of the Governor’s-. Instead. the Crown’s appointment of one official. modern Colombo did not evolve through “internal” or “organic” processes. in London.” reversing what are normally seen as the organic processes of city growth. Moreover. the relocation of the political center outside Ceylon. the Governor. it was constructed as a part of a British imperial system from “outside. and the political and administrative link to London.25 In contrast to the theories of evolution of modern cities in Europe. from one being inward. according to Malcolm Cross. of which the seat of government was located within the territory. but “between a foreign ruling class and colonial people as a whole. as the head of Ceylon.was perhaps the most important factor in the construction of Ceylon as a single territorial unit around Colombo. though through the colonial port city of Colombo. the .Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 8 larger organization of that British Empire. to another being outward oriented.”24 In this sense. inverted its spatial order. The shifting of the center of political authority of the Lankan society(ies) to London reoriented the society and space of Ceylon towards the metropole. writing about the Caribbean. but adoption or rejection of their recommendations rests exclusively with himself. Bipan Chandra argues that colonialism is not about classes. self-contained entities. Historically.26 In a broader sense. According to one Colonial Secretary. represented the subjugation of the whole society of Ceylon.” modified only by the distant authority of the Queen [or the king]. with the “colonial capital” set up in a colonial port city. the Lankan kingdoms had been organized as self-sufficient. The plantation economy would only reinforce this in the 1850s. the powers of the Governor constitute[d] a “paternal despotism. The functions of his councils are consultative.

A crucial strategy was to destroy the identity of Kandy. however.357 years. in order to bring the colonization of Kandy and the island as a whole to a climax. In so doing. was the kingdom of Kandy.28 so it was Colombo that made Ceylon and not Ceylon (nor Lanka) that made Colombo. as well as unify the territory already under British control.31 when. The key to the British reorganization of the island into a single administrative space was the elimination of indigenous social and spatial structures which were seen as obstructions to the achievement of particular colonial objectives. The Incorporation of Kandy The main and final barrier for the English to materialize the representational space of Ceylon. all of them subject to a single.27 Just as. 1815] we date the extinction of Singhalese independence --an independence which had continued without material interruption for 2. Tennent quotes Knighton: “From this day [February 14. the entire administration of Ceylon was transformed. the British divided up the whole island into homogeneous administrative provinces and districts. The desire to take over Kandy is evident in Governor North’s proposals to the king of Kandy in 1802.”29 Despite the failure of earlier attempts.”30 The British. in regard to Brazil. English-speaking administration in Colombo. including that of the subjects. continued to treat the former Kandy as a separate entity until the 1830s. demanding free communication between Colombo and Trincomalee for the troops and tappal (mail service) of “my government. the final conquest of Kandy in 1815 was made with the utmost ease.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 9 colonial society was not just “influenced” by Europe but actually created by it. Mary Karasch has observed that it was Rio that made Brazil and not vice versa. The organization of colonies in terms of Provinces .

the colonial state’s use of cardinal directions to name the Provinces --Northern. Matara. By then. Lower Uva. and Central-.33 Moreover. It was only in 1889. and Hambantota Colombo. the threat of Kandy. Three Korales. the colonial state allocated parts of the former Kandyan country among all five provinces created in 1833. that a province was given a name. Four Korales. Eastern. Western. much smaller than the former Kingdom of Kandy. had disappeared. but also refers to previous Roman colonial systems. . 68. (See table 1 and figure 2) Apart from the Central Province.32 Most significantly. Mannar and the Wanni Trincomalee and Batticaloa Galle. and Puttalam and former Kandyan districts of Nuwarakalaviya Northern Eastern Southern Western Central Tamankaduwa and Bintenna Saffragam. Table 1 New Provinces of 1833 Province Composed of former Ceylonese districts of Jaffna. and Wellassa Seven Korales. the administrative capitals of all other provinces were located within former Ceylon.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 10 and District was not only common in many west European empires. as a potentially subversive political unit. outside former Kandy. for the first time. and Lower Bulatgamme Central Districts of Kandy Kingdom (Former Kandy Kingdom except what is shown above) Source: Mills. Tangalle. in this way eliminating Kandy’s physical and spatial identity. Southern.could well have been aimed at effacing earlier identities. Ceylon Under British. Chilaw.

the United National Party. for the elite. the new “national” society and space was given in the post- . the leadership of the Kandyan aristocracy was replaced by this new Low-Country elite. ideological. independence was merely a peaceful transfer of power and did not imply significant changes in the economic.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 11 The hierarchical organization of these administrative divisions and their capitals. what their populations “received. Paradoxically. was to create the colonial spatial and urban structure of Ceylon. The territories which the Lankans had lost to European imperial powers and what the Ceylonese recovered were also radically different. these new urban settlements were politically and culturally alien to the surrounding society. and the production of an urban-centric. II Elite Reproduction of National Space For the Ceylonese indigenous elite. was a single state. a multi-ethnic. Hence.” on independence. the prominent ones of which were religious and royal centers. what the leadership of independent Ceylon represented was an elite sympathetic with the values of the colonial community. the crown colony.34 The authorities of these urban centers received orders from the English speaking administration in Colombo. Eurocentric Ceylon. these urban centers represented an extension of British authority. and the administrative functions carried out by them were evolved in Europe. Instead of the four kingdoms which had existed prior to European colonization. Compared to the former organization of Lankan towns. Moreover. and spatial structures. administrative. therefore. for example. principally represented through the Ceylon National Congress and later. multiracial group led by Low-Country Singhalese. In contrast to the anti-imperialist leadership of the last kingdom of Kandy. through London and Colombo.

the Singhalese leaders escalated their efforts for the reclaiming and restoring of their historic and sacred places.37 At the same time.” in the process expanding the extant inter-state system. Watersheds in this development also include the formation of the Singhalese-nationalist Singhala Mahajana Sabhawa in 1919.38 A significant turning point in this development was the split in the Ceylon National Congress in 1921 when a prominent leader.39 The alienation from the larger . the most central characteristics of colonial Ceylon did not change much after independence. simultaneously attempting to transform this ensemble into a so-called “nation. Hence. even the naval and airborne installations on the island were retained by the Biritsh until the mid 1950s. Ponnambalam Arunachalam. A crucial event that intensified such consciousness was the 1923 Order-In-Council creating an elected majority in the colonial Legislative Council.35 The inflation of the Tamil elite’s request from that of a reasonable representation for Tamils in the Legislative Council from 1910 to 1931. the consciousness of Ceylon becoming a single nation increased intra-group competition among the elite and this is clearly evident in the reconstruction of their ethnic differences and identities. Nonetheless. Yet the construction of a “nation-state” out of the post-colonial state was the responsibility of the particular state itself. left the Congress with its Low-Country Singhalese majority. This was carried out by the postcolonial state taking over the colonial administrative unit and the implicit recruitment of “national” subjects to this pre-established structure.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 12 colonial state. In this context.36 can be viewed as an outcome of their becoming increasingly conscious of having to share power within a single state. whether in regard to their positions or their spaces. to having equal weightage for Tamils and Singhalese from 1931. the principal objective of the Ceylonese elite was to replace the British.

the post-colonial regime adopted the colonial administrative center of Colombo. therefore. did not generate any disorder in Ceylonese society and space until the 1980s. to the metropole. through Colombo. prevented the elite from mobilizing their caste and ethnic schisms into any substantial social movements. a multivalence. As much as producing Ceylon. and negotiate with. the average Ceylonese. and spatial formation of Ceylon. however. To a lesser degree. economy. national territorial and urban spatial structures is. they had to rely on. What we see in the post-colonial. and particularly in relation to Colombo. Moreover. with independence. the colonial elite had also to transform themselves to be a part of the society and the state. drastically constrained the umbilical chord that connected Ceylon. the religious and cultural organization of Ceylon reproduced the centrality of their historic centers. If the elite derived its original political power from the authorities in London. Kandy and Jaffna/Nallur. for example. The significance of Colombo for post-colonial rulers can be explained by the fact that it was solidly within the colonial society and space. This represents a conflict between the continuing colonial spatial structures of which Colombo was the center and the reconstruction of a historical continuity of the people which made religious centers the nucleus. cultural. for each community. the state also assumed the role of providing .Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 13 Ceylonese society. In this context. This multicentricity. while Colombo continued to function as the center of the Ceylonese polity. that the meaning of the elite and their identities was produced. the socialist challenge from the 1930s made them focus more on their class and status based interests which they were compelled to protect first.40 Decolonization. however. In regard to the political center. however. as well as capitalist culture. a situation I shall address below. It is this reconstruction of the “post-colonial split site” that brought about a multivalence to the social.

through the medium of English.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 14 historic patronage to Buddhism. Despite their alliance with the Tamil elite. for whom the . Hence. the increase in significance of historic Buddhist centers in the post-colonial political arena is illustrated by the fact that every ministerial cabinet of newly formed governments has made a pilgrimage to the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy. and then share in the government of the country.S. Instead they were selective. though did not readily accept all colonial subjects as nationals. the Singhalese elite were not ready to accept the plantation workers of southern Indian origin as nationals. Pattirippuwa. This is evident in their classification of them as Indian Tamils. Jayawardena.R. reaffirming them as a foreign people. of the Temple. had invited plantation workers to get assimilated into what he saw as Ceylon. Within a mere two years. become Ceylonese. and some in Oxford. what we see is an ambivalence on the part of the elite.41 Although only implicit at times. Buddhism is to be understood. as a reformed version which many of the elite had studied. addressed the “nation” from the octagonal podium. in this context. who later became the first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon.’”43 Yet the plantation workers’ active role in the anti-colonial struggles of the 1940s. the United National Party government of 1948 was to deprive the plantation workers of Indian origin of their citizenship and voting rights. Senanayake. The post-colonial rulers of Ceylon used the new authority brought about by independence to restructure the society and space of Ceylon. We tell them ‘become part of ourselves. “We do not consider the Indians as aliens. led by the socialists. He wrote. made the elite distance themselves from these “proletarian” laborers. for the first time.42 In 1928. D. the post-colonial regime viewed Ceylon as their space. following a Kandyan royal tradition. In the first place. The apogee of this “invented tradition” was reached in 1977 when Prime Minister J.

selfsufficiency may have operated at the village level. . the post-colonial concern was for this to be achieved at the national level. was imported from within the empire. on one hand needing the labor of these workers but on the other. however. the colonial state had also undertaken the construction and expansion of new irrigation structures from the 1920s. post-colonial governments viewed the colonial division of Lankan territory into administrative provinces. As the deficit of the staple food.45 Both these projects entailed the resettling of farming families in irrigated areas.” a practice continued till the 1960s. resenting their social roles and political values.44 the production of the full requirement of rice within Ceylon was not seen as a necessity. and under colonialism at an imperial scale. Nonetheless.. but of the Empire. rice. its self-sufficiency was not a principal concern of the colonial state.e. In addition to restoring former irrigation works. natural or given.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 15 planter capitalist was a model. It is therefore no coincidence that these settlements were called “colonies. particularly Burma. this was also the time for the post-colonial state to incorporate the whole island into its domain. It was only within the perception of an independent Ceylon as a single political entity that the post-colonial rulers of Ceylon viewed its “self-sufficiency” as a national requirement. Since Ceylon was part of the British Empire. Although historically. not the revival of former villages but rather. a process of establishing them from Colombo. and its urban structure as orthogenetic. except during periods of economic recession. If the anti-colonial struggles had brought these plantation workers into Ceylonese politics and “national” space. Moreover. districts. This was. i. the post-colonial state denied them legitimate entry into it. Another major concern of the post-colonial rulers was economic self-sufficiency.

Ironically. Just as trade unions of the European proletariat corresponded to the production units (factories) and “trades” organized by capital. or a national urban structure with its capital. Completing this mission. the colonial port city of Colombo. at the top of this hierarchy. Moreover. shared the view that independence in 1948 was incomplete. it was the newly formed Sama Samaja Party that had led the independence struggle from the 1930s. Its internationalism largely lay in the Marxist slogan that attempted to unite the . it was precisely this Ceylon that the socialists opted to liberate. principally the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.” but was not a radical transformation. anti-colonial movements also operated within the society and space defined by the British Empire. As most socialist movements of the time. Yet this was simply a modification of the functions of these territorial units. in 1972. particularly the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 16 Growing up within a colonial system with its emphasis on an urban-centric society. putting them to a “better use. The creation of provincial councils and the transfer of districts into constituencies in the 1980s is the most profound transformation which these old colonial divisions have undergone. the postcolonial elite did not acquire a capacity to question the appropriateness of colonial administrative divisions. these independence movements which had been born within the colonies saw colonial society and its territory as orthogenetic. and the nationalists. the Sama Samaja Party’s spatial orientation was international. III Anti-Colonialist Conceptions of National Sri Lanka The socialists. In contrast to the struggles that strove to repel European invasions and restore the legitimacy of Lankan kingdoms. formed in 1951. the United Front government not only changed the constitution of the country but also its name.

given the working class orientation of many independence movements. in Europe.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 17 working class against capitalism. much broader anti-colonial movements could have been organized at an imperial scale accepting the empire as the social and spatial unit. across national frontiers. despite the sporadic occurrence of some alliances across colonial borders. Without exception. and Italian socialists in the south. however. none of these developed into broad-based anti-imperial organizations. the international solidarity that the Sama Samajists strove to build was not explicitly directed at producing a single socialist world. More so than with any other political movement in Ceylon. Instead the inter-national socialist revolution it conceived was to be carried out by socialist parties at national level.” but was largely their ignorance of it. such as between Vietnamese and French Communist parties and the Sama Samajist’s cultivating relationships with leftist anti-colonial groups in India. given the international orientation of organizations like the Sama Samaja Party. . the outcome of supporting the notion of the “national. the Sama Samaja Party was also instrumental in closely integrating marginalized areas and subjects into the prospective national space of Ceylon. What I wish to illustrate here is that the nature of the society and space represented by this anti-colonial movement was not inevitable. in theory. Wallerstein points out that. For example.”47 He refers here to the strength of the British Labour Party in Wales and Scotland. “it was the socialists who first and most effectively integrated the “outlying” zones into their respective nation-states. Sama Samajists’ ambivalence towards the “inter-national” was more effective in producing the “national space. Yet historically. French socialists in Octavia. and as a critique of the Stalinist notion of socialism in one country.46 Although its goals contested those of the capitalist world-system.” This was not. they could also have joined with the working class movements of the metropole.

This largely occurred through the timely and peaceful transition of power to the Ceylonese. religious. Colombo’s position as the national political and administrative capital was reinforced by the popular consent of the Ceylonese for the post-colonial political establishment. . and caste boundaries. The struggle for Sri Lankan independence was constructed through the articulation of widespread anti-colonial sentiments against the colonial state of Ceylon.” The Sama Samaja Party. This is demonstrated in the confidence the socialists gained among the Ceylon Tamils (now Sri Lankan Tamils) and. and not outside it. these struggles drew the British-owned. even by the socialists and nationalists. but also produced it. “Indian Tamils”).49 Spatially. They had a special appeal for the marginalized.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 18 In Ceylon. not only represented nationalist sentiment during this phase. Indian-worked plantation enclave into national politics.” Roberts argues that supporting the Sama Samaja Party also provided the means to engage in caste and other conflicts. by the plantation workers of Indian origin (officially. more ardently. First was the consciousness of discrimination among social and cultural groups.” Post-colonial “Democracy” and Colombo’s Centrality Colombo’s political and spatial centrality over the island thus remained unchallenged. including Singhalese “lowcastes. it was impossible thereafter to perceive plantation workers as non-national or “alien. profoundly promoting the perception of Ceylon as a “nation. until the 1970s. Despite the deprivation of their citizenship by the government of 1947. the even balance of the principal political forces. Two forms of social consciousness were produced among such groups. During these three decades. of which the first goal was national independence. the socialists organized the masses across ethnic.48 Second was the consciousness of being a part of the same society.

The Sama Samajists entered the plantations. made the Sama Samaja Party view capitalist spaces in Colombo and the plantations as the principal potential sites of confrontation. the timely British transfer of political power to the Ceylonese. the shifting of the locus of independence struggles to the plantations in the 1940s obscured the centrality of Colombo. the plantations were transformed into the principal locus of political confrontation.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 19 and the predominance of a “class” identity. once again.50 Struggles in the plantations in the 1940s. At the same time. Nonetheless. creating a working class --in regard to its consciousness-.” were drawn into the election process by their success in elections. Representatives from electorates were sent out to the House of Representatives in Colombo to govern the “nation” as well as to negotiate issues concerning each individual electorate. As the central battlefield.and organized plantation workers against both British domination and capitalism right at the heart of the space that British capital commanded. but who were ambivalent about resorting to “armed struggle. were an invitation to the colonial regime. Colombo’s role as the locus of political negotiations in Ceylon was continued through a form of European political culture based on a “Westminster” type of democracy. was instrumental in transforming the locus of anti-colonial struggles from the plantations to Colombo. which drew every politician’s attention to the task of capturing political power located in Colombo. formed in 1942. rather than . The reliance on the “proletariat” in its struggle against capitalism. With independence. the transfer of political power to the Ceylonese provided the opportunity for Sama Samaja and Communist Parties. The socialists who questioned the premises of capitalist democracy. In addition to Lankan religious revivals of the late nineteenth century. to enter the opponents’ territory to settle the disputes. to enter parliament. therefore.

The political culture developed during the transition. if not gain power within it. and capitalists alike. one led by the elite United National Party. Hence. The election of two Sama Samaja candidates to the State Council in 1936 had made them view the Council as the principal platform for the anti-colonial struggle. This can be contrasted with the political situation in India where the Indian National Congress was too dominant so that the Muslim League resorted to a policy of separatism. By the end of the 1960s. by the early 1970s. the LSSP’s approach to the Parliamentary system was largely to work through it. communists.51 The hope of winning a future election was boosted by the socialists coming closer to forming a government in the elections for the first parliament of independent Ceylon. the . Colombo’s significance was further reinforced by the somewhat balanced strength of the two major political forces at independence. in which the strength of political rivals in Ceylon was evenly balanced.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 20 failures. remained in Colombo. most political parties represented in the parliament had also participated in a government.53 Besides attracting more new political parties into the election process. for socialists. the post-colonial locus of political power.” particularly the path to socialism through the Parliament. even in Bengal. prevented either of these attempting to use excessive force of any sort against the other. the Indian National Congress came to power in all eight provinces. nationalists. they were so deeply entrenched in this position that some factions became quite interested in such European models as “Eurocommunism.52 By the 1970s. Increasingly. and the other by the socialist Sama Samaja Party. or extinguish its rival. In the 1937 elections. this political enthusiasm in Ceylon was reinforced by the fact that. and the Muslim League only gained a total of 40 out of 119 seats.

but the ability to change governments made the election process increasingly attractive to the masses. Pakistan in 1958.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 21 main political weapon against any government had become the vote. the balance of political forces at the time of transition. and communal identities and affiliations being transformed into “nationals. In 1972 the Philippines came under martial law . the relatively “healthy” economy.. the relative absence of corruption in the electoral process. the post-colonial society and space of Sri Lanka was subjected to profound challenges.56 In short. Cambodia’s skeletal democracy collapsed in 1970. the reason why both political leaders and the people believed in the “parliamentary system” lay in the early beginning of that system. According to Pandey. IV Contesting National Space From the early 1970s. The inability of a single political party to win an election on its own further enhanced the room for manoeuvre for smaller political groups. and the lack of direct external manipulation. The challenges include rebellions. ethnic.. religious. particularly the insurrections led by the . All these factors contributed towards the process of people with various regional.54 Not only did all elections in Sri Lanka between 1952 and 1982 result in a change of government. the timely transfer of political power by the British. and Burma in 1962. and about 90% of registered voters casted their ballot in general elections. especially as an important political weapon.” principally concerned with economic and social rather than ethnic issues. as did Thailand for the second time in the same year. Indonesia abandoned its democratic system in 1957.55 The “success” of this imported system of European political culture in Ceylon can be contrasted with its failure in many post-colonial countries in Asia.

Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 22 Janata Vimukti Peramuna. And fifth. The subversive movements addressed here have highlighted the incompleteness of such a political establishment primarily dominated by two main political parties . and the changing national and global political and economic conditions that exposes the system to new vulnerabilities. the separatists also challenged the integrity of Sri Lanka as a single state. and the mass media have not been able to hegemonize the idea that elections are the only acceptable means of changing governments and completely marginalize any subversive movement contesting the political establishment. These struggles displaced the primary focus of the post-colonial polity on social and economic issues. In addition. Sri Lankan political parties. Sri Lankan youth has became a significant political force. led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam aimed at creating a new Tamil state. Second. these struggles destabilized the spatial organization of the nation. Fourth. Tamil Eelam. the primary mode of political negotiations has shifted from Parliamentary debates to military confrontations. principally by undermining Colombo’s position as the locus of political debate and the rules governing political negotiations. with others concerning conflicting ethnicities. Unlike in western democracies. and the separatist struggles. the locus of political negotiations has moved away from Colombo into rural areas. The context in which these shifts have taken place was largely provided by the inefficacy of the hegemony constructed for itself by the post-independence political establishment. dominant classes. the “national integrity” of Sri Lanka has been both seriously questioned and destabilized. the primacy of social and economic questions in the national political agenda has been replaced by cultural issues. and rural poverty. Third. youth. The changes these challenges brought about in the society and space of Sri Lanka were principally fivefold. At the same time. First.

“generation” and “cohort”60 which are not anywhere near concepts such as “class” or “ethnic group.57 Although youth organizations are not new.. for the Tamil separatists.59 The JVP notion of the “old left” appears to have been inspired by the Cuban revolution of 1959 which was led by a group of young militants. The role that youth played in uprisings of the late 1960s in Europe. Instead. Increased longevity of life has no doubt opened up this space for such agency. is the first instance when tensions between generations have led to a military conflict on a national scale. “youth” is not a term of sociological jargon. the government constructed an antiestablishment position for the JVP.61 The treatment of youth even as a theme in social history is very recent. Hence the government received . This viewpoint suggests that youth has become a significant social and political agency. and the Chinese cultural revolution of the late 1960s. Blackton has noted that “the insurgency of armed youths against an adult system . By capitalizing on the concerns of youth and ethnic groups these political movements have arguably defied this post-colonial political establishment and diversified the means and modes of political negotiations. Yet the study of youth as a social group has been limited to concepts of. represented as terrorist.. that of post-colonial Tamil political parties. these explicitly distrusted the leadership of the “old guard. Parliamentary political parties of Sri Lanka --and elsewhere-. in communist revolutions.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 23 and ruled by the majority.” the leadership of the conventional left which the JVP branded as feeble (mahalu nayakatvaya).” According to Simon Firth. in which many “old leaders” were replaced by young ones. is well known.”63 As in most struggles from the 1960s.have failed to grasp the meaning of this event through their own frameworks.58 and. for example. and in nationalist struggles. the uprising of 1971 in Sri Lanka was unprecedented.62 Emphasizing the youth aspect. Both the JVP and Tamil separatist groups consist primarily of militant youth.

Although the JVP itself was not victorious. is arguably the main cause for increasing student willingness to risk their immediate objective of graduation for more longer term political goals. Although universities acted as crucial nodes. however. They have moved their bases further away from the universities to the interiors of the Jaffna peninsular. the militancy of youth expanded from a highly educated and urbanized group to a much broader and rural based one. a particular knowledge and aspiration diffused by . The acceleration of rural transformations. and the so-called low castes also came to play an important role. India and also China --a rival of India-. particularly land reforms. These have. been based on the rural. as well as both Super Powers. Walton’s argument that “In the late 1970s and 1980s political movements in the Third World are principally an urban phenomenon. in fact. expanded this arena of youth political struggles from universities. not addressed the concerns of rural youth. and the regional powers. however. particularly. to include the state-run high school system --Madya Maha Vidyalayas and Maha Vidyalayas. of the students. the JVP uprising was constituted principally in the coastal areas between Ambalangoda and Tangalla and the “low caste” areas of Kegalla District.”66 largely represents an urban-centric view of the Third World where most struggles have. was largely the government’s reaction to this situation. and insecurity about the future caused by this. The prelude to these struggles was the politicization of universities. A similar trend can also be seen among the Tamil separatist movements. The boycotting of classes and conflicts in the universities were common in the late 1960s. which have been largely the incapacity to leave the poverty of the village.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 24 formidable support from all formal political parties in Sri Lanka. Rising unemployment during this period.64 JVP activism had.in crushing the rebellion of 1971. these struggles were instrumental in drawing more of the attention of the central government to rural areas.65 Socially.

and not a land problem. This was even more evident in JVP activism in the 1980s. it also drew them to the rural areas to negotiate power relations which were supposedly centered upon Colombo. this particular conflict had been developing from the 1920s. the Singhalese.69 Nonetheless. this was a crucial turning point in the socialization of violence.contemporary issues result from the fact that they now have to live in one state. and Muslims have lived peacefully together --from the viewpoint of today’s sense of nationalism-. Moreover. once monopolized by the colonial state and later disguised by the post-colonial propagation of the idea that there can be no revolution in a Buddhist country where people are inherently non-violent. Although historically. the JVP was ambiguous about the central government and Colombo’s command over Sri Lanka. instead of on the central state. and operated along with other social differences such as caste -privileging the elite of the each caste etc. and ethnic issues can be built up into political forces as a means of attaining power.70 The political bargaining between these took place within the confines of the constitutional framework and through electoral representatives sent to .67 This is reflected in what Moore represents as the JVP having no “agrarian program.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 25 urban-centric Western education. Ethno-Politics and Separatism Though it was only from the 1980s that the struggle for a separate Tamil state occupied center stage in Sri Lankan politics.. The JVP did not have a program to change the state as much as replacing personnel within it. in which isolated attacks were primarily targeted on regional and local rural leaders of the ruling UNP. Their principal targets in 1971 were also local police stations.”68 despite its rural base. the 1971 uprising astonished the entire political establishment of Sri Lanka. Tamils. In regard to the national society and space. Early ethno-political organizations that emerged from the 1920s were confined to a broadly defined group of elites.

Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 26 Colombo. instead of there being a leftist or a right-wing government and a corresponding opposition. the heavy imbalance of forces (a mere 18 TULF seats in a 168 . Once the TULF became the second largest group in the parliament. In the late 1940s. the Parliament polarized into a Singhala-Tamil duality. However. In this context. with an international boundary between them. responding to the Singhala biased politics of post-colonial governments and the need to secure their votes. Jaffna and Colombo. what the TULF proposed was two states on the island instead of one. ethnic issues concerning the Tamils were prioritized in the national political agenda. the Tamil based Federal Party adopted federalism as its strategy to resolve what it saw as issues concerning the Tamils. Although the TULF. was in the best ever position to bargain for the rights of the Tamils. winning all electorates where Tamils were the majority of voters and making. In May 1976. and two capitals. for the first time. the Federal Party and the Tamil Congress.72 Spatially. a Tamil political party/front the second largest in the Parliament. implementing some measures to this end after it came to power in 1956. the alternative society and space proposed by ethnic separatism was clearer than whatever the JVP struggles had implied. and any issue that came up in the Parliament was debated for its implications on Tamils until the TULF had to leave the Parliament in 1986. In 1972 the two main Tamil political parties. banded together to form a Tamil United Front (Tamil United Liberation Front in 1976).71 The TULF drew massive support for its policy of a separate Tamil state. In this sense. they raised the demand for a separate Tamil state. as the main opposition. it was the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna which advanced ethno-politics to a serious national issue through its “Singhala only” language policy.

however. and the state’s carrying out of law and order which is biased towards who holds this apparatus. Second. which is a parliament-centered position. and violence became the primary means of resolving the conflict. and cultural groups living in a particular territory into politically defined units. Once the TULF had left the Parliament. the place of such negotiations not only shifted away from Colombo. These groups contested the validity of the Parliament itself. which forces all ethnic. the Tamil youth activists were discontented by the distance between the rhetoric and the deeds of the older generation of political leaders. as the party confronting rising separatism. Third. Within the contemporary system of states in which . which had explicitly held this position for three decades. The crucial outcome. were compensated for by the growing militancy among the Tamil youth that had improved their capacity to negotiate. The ethnic issue is largely a product of the compartmentalized peoplehood produced through the inter-state system. marginalizing the SLFP.73 The huge imbalance of forces. First. particularly in the parliament. the LTTE emerged as the predominant Tamil force.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 27 member Parliament) was insufficient to win a separate state through the parliamentary process which favors the majority. the militants had taken over the representation of Tamils from traditional parliamentary political parties. but to what would be Tamil Eelam for the separatists. Moreover. the ground of the socalled ethnic conflict had completely changed. religious.74 When the separatist struggle turned confrontational in the early 1980s. disrupting and boycotting elections after 1982 and threatening to kill whoever participated in them. was that the integrity of Sri Lanka has been undermined. whether as candidates or voters. the ruling UNP assumed the role of what amounted to a Singhalese leadership. These were not merely extra parliamentary struggles.

leading to separatism and violence. Modern states. This state is an ethnic one --a Tamil one. the marginalized have no “vacant” land to which they can exile themselves. This is very well illustrated in regard to the Kurds who are marginalized in Turkey. demonstrate that the process of states homogenizing their subjects into nations was more prevalent than homogenous cultural groups forming states. out of a total of nine. have not just been constructed to contain or constitute ethnic groups.” Past experiences of the modern state. it is precisely this situation that makes those groups which do not want to be part of a particular state want to construct a new state. not only without any regard for cultural differences among the Lankans. other separatist groups. and the Palestinians in Israel and Kuwait. Iraq.75 “Nations” thus largely consist of multiple cultural groups dominated by one or a couple of them. As discussed above. and Iran. This leads to the second ambiguity. both through migrations and colonial and postcolonial state policies and programs. what the LTTE strives to “liberate” are largely the Northern and Eastern Provinces. these Provinces were created by the British. the two furthest from Colombo. however.76 . If there ever was a clear territorial division between the Tamils and Singhalese in history. What the LTTE. but also to deliberately obscure them. Ironically. such a division has radically changed during the last five hundred years.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 28 all land is claimed by states. which is very difficult to trace. and strove for. from seventeenth century Europe onwards. but so-called “nations. that of the territory perceived as Tamil Eelam. the LTTE has directly accepted the notion of the inter-state system and colonial provinces. was to produce a new state within the hegemonic system of states. Despite the nuances represented in some maps. Ironically. partly assimilating and suppressing the rest. and the TULF demanded.

with a considerable proportion in Colombo. the ethnoscape has become more complex.” How the LTTE seem to want to handle this problem is by carrying out a program of frightening away (or “ethnic cleansing”) of the non-Tamils from the province. Moreover. lead to the same problem of peoplehood. Tamils live in almost all provinces in Sri Lanka. differences of caste are as important as among Buddhists and arguably. Eastern Province. such as Christians. even more so. the provinces do not have the same meaning beyond that of the colonial administration for whose purpose they were produced. while Tamil minority castes seem susceptible to extreme leftwing appeals. historic cultural differences such as castes have been overlain by new religious and class categories. once again. the conception of Tamil Eelam confronts the problem of its “Tamilness. For example. The problem of the Muslims of Sri Lanka is very telling here. and capitalists merchants or landowners. language. particularly during the colonial period. Hence. It is only when these political and other cultural dimensions such as caste divisions are added that the separatist struggle can be seen as the complexity it actually represents. consists of about 30% Muslims and 30% Singhalese.that is simply applicable across this group. as Gellner argues.”78 What I am arguing here is that there is no single variable --ethnicity. “Within the Tamil and Christian minorities. Jupp observes. religion. or caste-. administrators. Among the Tamils themselves. different positions produce different perceptions. The population of one of the two provinces which the separatists claim. Yet.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 29 The LTTE’s solution would.79 In this context. nationalism also holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.77 while the state claims to be providing military protection to them. Tamil Kariars at Point Pedro do not behave politically like Tamil Vellalas [high castes]. It is important to ask how much of the politics of one cultural group is comprehensible to .

particularly that of 1989. to wipe out their rivals. meaning the Ceylon Tamil State Party. the issue of separatism is highly politicized. reconfirmed the importance of the battle between them to the Singhalese and the Tamils. Spatially. and how this difference is negotiated. in whatever form. demonstrates that the talks were a means to clearing up other entanglements together. represented by Provincial Councils. was. Moreover. The LTTE --and also the JVP-. The Federal Party. in order to survive being eliminated in 1960 elections. although the solution of either side may not be the outcome. Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi. and also to eliminate the opponents of either party.81 and so have the government. This was precisely what polarized the Sri Lankan polity. have also been based on the same administrative divisions. wiping out their rivals while the government launched an attack on the JVP in 1989. For example.82 Talks between the LTTE and the government. . the LTTE. the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord of 1987 offered a degree of devolution of power to all nine Provinces. What we see therefore is the emphasis of different identities at different instances.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 30 another cultural group. In western democracies there is a strong tendency to boil down the possibility of expressing differences to a dualistic two-party system. which was supposedly proposing a federal policy in the Sri Lankan polity. compelling the left --Sama Samaja and Communist Parties-. and all party conferences.to join the Freedom Party.80 The politico-territorial solutions offered so far by governments.has used the same violence they employed to fight the government. The Tamil Federal Party which fought to become a strong bargainable third force that can work through its two “Singhalese” rival groups also faced the same fate in a general election. in its Tamil designation. the conference also made temporary provision for a unified North-Eastern Provincial Council. Directly responding to the territorial demand of the separatists.

The government has. it also actively hinders the election process. Colombo has lost the consensus it once had as the locus of political negotiations for three decades after independence. In this sense. The LTTE has. but also the territorial domain on which its administration and political authority had been comfortably based for three previous decades. and began a fresh round of fighting in 1989. The attitude of the new government of 1995 is yet to be seen. and Jaffna and Colombo. It has vehemently refused to participate in the parliamentary process. As elections in a “democracy. therefore. By sending troops to Jaffna. these struggles have produced complementary enemies. but with arms. the present government has only confirmed this. Instead of negotiating in Colombo. not only challenged Colombo’s role as the locus of political negotiation. . therefore. representatives of this movement have invited the representatives of the state to their territory to negotiate on their terms. who only have an agreement about their antagonism. but has also made the territorial integrity of the nation a crucial issue requiring the state to increase its annual military expenses in order to reproduce itself.” peace talks from time to time have therefore been interludes that reproduced the importance of the conflict between Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam. the LTTE led struggles have also shifted the locus of political negotiations to the rural areas. been compelled to send troops to negotiate and regain control over those areas. Nonetheless. advancing ethnic strife to the top of the national political agenda. As far as the most significant political conflict is concerned.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 31 Both parties also agreed to get rid of the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Tamil separatism has not only deflected the state’s focus away from the economy. and both the government and the LTTE have thrived on a problem unlikely to be solved between them. The LTTE not only is not represented in the parliament in Kotte (Colombo).

youth rebels. Yet at the same time. these “nationalisms” have sustained the system of nation-states and other territorial organization of society such as provinces and districts. have all striven to transform the society and space of Sri Lanka.”83 This is precisely the irony that the modern day nationalist has not been able to overcome. Ë Ë Ë . “[nationalism has] consolidated the western presence on the cultural plane. the nationalists. reproduced under an overall US hegemony and operated through global organizations such as the United Nations. highlighting the significance of getting out of colonially produced perceptions.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 32 Conclusion While the immediate post-independence Ceylonese elite opted to occupy colonial positions and spaces. Limiting their own efforts. socialists. ironically. and separatists. while it nurtured the rebellion against the West on the political plane. All these agencies have directed our attention to the problems caused by the incongruence between peoplehood and their territorial representations. The way in which this conflict will be negotiated is yet to be seen. As Nandi has argued. they have all been unable to operate outside the colonially produced frames of reference.

14. and Culture in Singhala Life (Ithaca. and Topographical with Notices of its Natural History. By a “Singhalese monarch. 224. NY: Cornell University Press. conflating the territories controlled by them. 41. This paper is drawn from Nihal Perera. 10. largely. 2. “Writing Within: Anthropology. Nationalism. Colvin R. University of Minnesota Press. Basic Books. See Ingram. and Edward Said. Yda Saueressig-Schreuder. quoted in Kemper. 153. the conflation of Colombo and Kotte did not change the overall jurisdictions of the Portuguese substantially. (London: Longman. Two Views of British India.” in Terry Eagleton. Dundas and Lord Wellesley: 1798-1801 (Somerset: Adams and Dart.” (A History of Sri Lanka. de Silva argues that “a British Crown Colony was established in [Ceylon]. 5. 255-310. 1970). Marshall Sahlins. 1991.M. Ceylon Under the British Occupation 1795-1833 2 vols. Politics. 107) As a consequence. Forthcoming). 10. however. The Private Correspondence of Mr. See also Gananath Obeyesekere's comment on this article in the same volume pp. 162. Terry Eagleton. Ceylon: An Account of the Island. 26. which focuses on the European colonial constructions of urban and territorial spatial systems in Sri Lanka and indigenous responses to these. Jonathan Spencer. Physical. 224) draws on Clifford Geertz. 1989). 185. Immanuel Wallerstein. 144. 12.” I refer to a king or a queen of a “Singhalese kingdom” who may or may not be Singhalese in ethnicity. 3. “Nationalism: Irony and Commitment. de Silva. 1973). the rulers of the Kandy Kingdom in the last phase were of the south Indian Nayakkar dynasty. K. Edward Ingram. 179. (Colombo: Colombo Apothecaries. 1859) II: 71. and Culture in Sri Lanka” Current Anthropology 31 (June 1990): 283. Within a polity that was somewhat polarized between the Portuguese-Kotte alliance and Sitavaka as the leading opponent. Hurst and Co. eds. 2 vols. (de Silva. 7. Due to the losses sustained. King Don Juan Dharmapala had already transferred his capital to Colombo in the 1560s.” Chapter in The Interpretation of Culture (New York. Colonialism. if not entirely. Peter Taylor. 1990).. 1989).. and Literature (Minneapolis. A History of Sri Lanka. A History of Sri Lanka (London: C. Decolonizing Ceylon: Society and Space in Sri Lanka (Boulder. 219) James Emerson Tennent. I: 20-21. Nation-State and Locality (London and New York: Longman. 205. 4. “The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States. 144. 6. Nationalism. the Kingdom of Kotte and the Portuguese controlled Ceylon. Steven Kemper (The Presence of the Past: Chronicles.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 33 Notes: . 1985). “The Impact of British Colonial Rule on the Urban Hierarchy of Burma” Review x (Fall 1986): 254. Antiquities and Productions. 40. 13. . Historical. de Silva. Fredric Jameson. For example. The Modern World-System III: The Second Era of Great Expansion of the Capitalist WorldEconomy. 1985). Political Geography: World-Economy. 11. 8. 1730-1840s (San Diego: Academic Press. 9. Islands of History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. CO: Westview Press. the Portuguese decided to quit protecting Kotte in 1565. 295-6. 1953). for reasons of imperial strategy. King Dharmapala took refuge in the Portuguese fort of Colombo.

Urbanization and Urban Growth in the Caribbean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. the Kandyan country. Bipan Chandra. Ceylon Under the British Occupation I: 252. 1965 [First published in Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1804. 57. See Braudel (Capitalism and Material Life. 1806. Gideon Sjoberg. 18. 26. Frank Broeze: 152-172 (Hawaii: Hawaii University Press. Stages of Colonialism and the Colonial State.. Paul Bairoch. Lewis Mumford. 1985).” Journal of Contemporary Asia 10 (1980): 284. and Egypt in the Years 1802. 27. 24) In his discussion on traditional and modern states in Europe. Lennox A. “the kingdom of Kandy. 1400-1800 (New York: Harper Row. George Viscount Valentia. 1988). eds. Robert Ross and Gerard J. 20. de Silva. 1979).” in Colonial Cities: Essays on Urbanism in a Colonial Context. Mary Karasch. who wrote. 1989). 16. 88) Wallerstein. 22. 99. 1989). The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York: Vintage Books. 21. de Silva. 25. See K. 1809) I:309. 1961). “Colombo: Gateway and Oceanic Hub of Shipping. Inc.” in Brides of the Sea: Port Cities of Asia from the 16th Century to the 20th Century. Ceylon. 401. the surgeon of the military that conquered Kandy. (Italics added) de Silva. “Colonialism. Chapter Three. Blumer. 1803. Paul Kennedy..” (Henry Marshall. Ceylon Under the British Occupation. 1805. 9. Telkamp: 123-154 (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. “Rio de Janeiro: From Colonial Port Town to Imperial Capital. (See. 3 vols (St. Ceylon Under the British Occupation. Tennent. 15. The Nation-State and Violence.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 34 Although the rulers of Tamil kingdoms in the north of Lankan territory had also attempted to capture the whole island. ed. This translation is taken from Henry Marshall. 46). 19. I: 88. vol II: Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism (Cambridge: Polity Press. James: W. there is not enough evidence to argue that those monarchs had imagined the whole island as a single society and space. See Nihal Perera. 24. Abyssinia. 1145. as it is frequently called. II: 167. and Its Prospects (New York: Harcourt. The Preindustrial City: Past and Present (Glencoe. Voyages and Travels to India. 1933]. Mills. M. Anthony Giddens makes a similar distinction between frontiers and boundaries. Its Transformations. The City in History: Its Origins. Cities and Economic Development: From the Dawn of History to the Present (London: Mansell. Mills..94. Il: Chicago University Press. I: 252. . 28. A General Description of the Island and its Inhabitants with an Historical Sketch of the Conquest of the Colony by the English (Kandy: Kandy Printers. Cross. Dharmasena. 17. Decolonizing Ceylon: Society and Space in Sri Lanka (PhD Dissertation). the Red Sea. Brace & World. 29. 1960). 1954 [1846]). 1973). Ceylon Under British Rule 1795-1932 (New York: Barnes and Noble. 193. 1985). 23.

1961 [1711]). 34. 118. making Anuradhapura the focus of this effort.. Stuart Hall also highlights the fact that cultural groups construct what he calls “local” differences within the larger ”global.” (Patricia W. (Kemper. 1983). For example. in a statement to the Parliament in 1944. Including Ven. 32. A History of Sri Lanka. de Silva. 33.” in Culture. See Anthony D.D. 142) See also Elizabeth Nissan. de Silva. NY: Department of Art History. (London: MacMillan. This aspect is not unique to Ceylon. the Prime Minister of Ceylon from 1956 to 1959. and irrigation systems. 159. 10) For example. 1976). de Silva. South Asia. 1991) I. 18 of 1948) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (No. these cities attracted more of the “rural elite” to “residential comforts and glitter of urban life. in conceptualizing globalization. 1992).Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 35 30.S. Salinas. that English might be more useful than Singhalese for studying Buddhism. 38. An Historical Account of Ceylon (Glasgow: James McLehose and Sons. 40. State University of New York at Binghamton. 35. (Richard Gombrich and Gananath Obeyesekere. 7. NJ: Princeton University Press. 416. Bandaranayake. King. 1989 [1966]). 447-8) This was carried out through the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Act (no. claimed that it was at Oxford that he first learned Buddhism and. Ruwanvelisaya. Naranvita Sumanasara taking residence at a main temple site of Anuradhapura.. Weerawardena. 37. Social Power and Environment (London: Routledge. In addressing the process of globalization and localization. “History in the Making: Anuradhapura and the Singhala Buddhist Nation” Social Analysis: Journal of Cultural and Social Practice 25 (September 1989): 64-77. Knox notes that the best towns are devales (temples). (See Mills.” (“The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity. 1988). 36. A History of Sri Lanka. F. Mills. 68. Globalization:Social Theory and Global Culture (London: Sage. Colonial Urban Development: Culture. 75.W. 87). Hugh Tinker. Weerawardena. (See. in the 1870s. 41. 43. These provinces and districts were largely organized according to the reforms recommended by the ColebrookeCameron Commission in 1833. 42. Government and Politics in Ceylon (1931-1946) (Colombo: Ceylon Economic Research Association.R. As they grew richer. W. Globalization and the World-System: Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity. In regard to the smaller towns in Kandy. 68) Mills. II: 89n. A Short History 2nd ed. “Mode of Production and Spatial Organization in Peru. 1951). 235. 31. (Robert Knox. Tennent. Anthony D.” in Regional Analysis and the New International Division of Labor. Patricia Salinas has argued that the spatial organization of Peru around Lima and the growth of commercial cities on the coast were the direct outcome of the export of agricultural surplus through these port cities to its metropole. Salinas (London: Kluwer-Nijhoff. Roland Robertson refers to implications of various groups becoming conscious of the world becoming a single place. For example. ed. Ceylon Under the British Occupation. 39. . Moulart and P. eds. King (Binghamton. I: 302. 15. S.D. 48 of 1949). Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka (Princeton.

and 1977]. 57. See de Silva. Leon Trotsky.C. 1989).K. 61). Peebles. 56. In 1947. 45. 53. Immanuel Wallerstein. Khilhani. 10) 48.” (A. some independent MPs who supported the LSSP were in fact representing more ethnic and cultural. 1500-1931 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The LSSP adhered to a Leninist anti-war position --condemning the war as a capitalist means to divide markets among themselves-. Kearney (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Indian National Congress and the Muslims 1928-1947 (New Delhi: Rajesh Publications. 1983).” Paper prepared for the conference on Structural Change in the West conference iv: Nation-States and the International Order.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 36 44. See Michael Roberts. 52. 97. Workers' strikes in the plantations disrupted production and were deployed as the main weapon against British rule. Leslie Gunawardana. this position seems to be the result of over excitement. rather than class values. 1982). Pandey. Niranjan M. 1985). 1980.and escalated the struggle against British rule at that advantageous moment. “An average age of the insurgent was twenty years.. The JVP 1969-1989 (Colombo: Lake House Investments. 1970. since it derives its meaning from the capitalist discourse. 1980). 1990). 1980). The JVP leadership was largely formed from youth leaders expelled from the pro-Chinese Communist Party.C.192 JVP suspects arrested in 1971 were between the age of 17 and 26 years.” in Modern Sri Lanka. 55. 77% of the 10. 1982). Sri Lanka: A Handbook of Historical Statistics (Boston. India’s Road to Independence. ed.N.112. A Short History of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (Colombo: Progress Publishers. which were to be represented through new political parties in the immediate future. The Modern History of Ceylon (New York and Washington: Frederick A.H. The Permanent Revolution and Results and Prospects (New York: Pathfinder. 1957). Tissa Fernando and Robert N. I would argue here that capitalist space cannot be captured and transformed into an alternate mode. September 4-6 (unpublished): 13. Farmer. 306. An Introduction (London and Sydney: Croom Helm. 50. 1969) 279. South and South East Asia. “Politics and Modernization. Sri Lanka [1956. MA: G. both attempting to win non-party members elected to the Parliament and those of other small parties. 293-4) Moreover. A History of Sri lanka. Ludowyk. Praeger. See Robert N. However. Alles. it would not have the same meaning. 1965. and outside this. E. 1960-twice. A Society in Transition. . 47. See also Dr. (Alles. 1857 to 1947 (London: Oriental. and 20% of total votes cast in the 1947 elections. Padmasha. 49. B. 46.” (Christopher Clapham. Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The Rise of the Karava Elite in Sri Lanka. “Liberalism and the Legitimation of Nation-States: An Historical Interpretation. 291-2. 29. since what the three “leftist” parties gained was eighteen out of a total of ninety-five seats. Third World Politics. 67) B. 58. 54. Mauritius (1982. 1966). 182. “it is yet to happen in Africa. Clapham highlights the small number of post colonial states where an opposition party has peacefully taken control of the government after winning an election: India (1977. 51. 250). 293. the UNP and the LSSP gambled to form the first independent government. Cambridge. into a coalition led by them. 294. 1987). Hall. 1945-1979: Problems and Politics (London: Macmillan.F. Jamaica (1972. 1975). (See Patrick Peebles. Kearney. Pioneer Peasant Colonization in Ceylon: A Study in Asian Agrarian Problems (London: Oxford university Press. 1979). 1980). See Peebles. Emmanuel College.

“Organizing Youth for Productive Enterprises” Marga. 48) In 1986. (Paul Casperz. eds. ed.. 70. one study reveals that Indian universities have shown student unemployment to be a major cause for student unrest. See Rajan Hoole. The TULF MPs refused and lost their seats. A Society in Transition. The TULF called for the “restoration and reconstitution of the free.” (Mohan Ram. the government passed an Act requiring every state sector employee. Suriyanarayan. V. John Walton. Charles Blackton. 343-348. S. Urmila Phandis. Shirley Brice Heath and Milbrey W. 73. 63. (See Prayag Mehta. 132. Sri Lanka: The Fractured Island (New Delhi: Penguin Books. 1985). .” in The Indian Youth: Emerging Problems and Issues (Bombay: Somsaiyta. 243. CA: The Sri Lankan Studies Institute. “Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka. (see Alles. 1986). sovereign. Simon Firth. 245. 105119) their primary focus was on attacking police stations around the country at the same time (midnight of April 5. 1971). military personnel. 71. 365. Casperz. 1989). 1992). 72. a repetition of the disenfranchisement of the Indian Workers in 1947. Mitterauer. The Broken Palmyra (Claremont. Feagin. Sritharan. Although the plan included particular attacks on Colombo and the capture of the Prime Minister. 66. K.. See Michael Mitterauer. “Some Perceived Needs and Problems of University Youth. 1973). In regard to India. Paul Casperz has argued that what the JVP struggle represented was more than a tension between generations. 113. 364-386 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Muni. “Democracy in Sri Lanka. 1971). The State and Peasant Politics in Sri Lanka (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Michael Peter Smith and Joe R. 1. 67. Some analysts show this event as the disenfranchisement of Sri Lankan Tamils. Towards a Sociological Analysis of the Youth Struggle in Sri Lanka. 62. 69.. in Alles. Daya Somasundaram. 32. 18. 60.” in Modern Sri Lanka. “Urban Protest and the Global Political Economy: The IMF Riots. Alles. 78. and Balasuriya focus on a better and appropriate education as a means of enhancing opportunities for the youth. Tissa Balasuriya. vii. The JVP led rebellion of 1971 and a speech made by Kasi Ananthan of the TULF in 1972 were two important events that 64. 1990). but also a violent reaction by youth against the whole system. Rev. ed. 235. 1971: A critique of Educational Effectiveness in a Developing Area (Thesis: Oxford University. 359-360. The Sociology of Youth (Lancashire: Causeway Books. Alles. Kearney: 57-83 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. and Rajani Thiranagama.” in Domestic Conflicts in South Asia. (Alles. See also. 1987).” Lagos 2 (August 1987). Casperz. 1993). 85) See Mick Moore. 1979). 47. 61.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 37 59.D. and Kalim Bahadur (New Delhi: South Asian Publishers. See also. 245. vi. Identity and Inner-City Youth: Beyond Ethnicity and Gender (New York: Teachers College Press. 65. 1984). McLaughlin ed. 68. A History of Youth (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Tissa Fernando and Robert N. The employment of violence on a large scale in Sri Lankan politics can be traced back to the early 1970s. Chapter Four. and also by the same party in office. cited in Alles. secular. socialist state of Tamil Eelam. Robert N. Kearney. as well as Members of Parliament to make a pledge to the constitution and the territorial integrity of the country. “Politics and Modernization. See Perera.” in The Capitalist City. 224.

Myth. 17). during the LTTE-government peace talks to get the Indian troops out. Anandasangari [Currently the leader of the TULF. They do not deserve a natural death. This was extended at times against other anti-governmental forces. See K. Alfred Duraiappa. 1990). Daya Somasundaram. 1989. 11: 6-7. 83. 1975). 76. especially the youth. Premadasa Udugampola. In case of the JVP. These acts were revealed. These include the elimination of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO). and the JVP leader. secondly by the fact of their being a linguistic entity entirely different from that of the Singhalese with an unsurpassed classical heritage and a modern development of language which makes Tamil fully adequate for all present-day needs. The Break-Up of Sri lanka: The Singhalese-Tamil Conflict (London: C. (ibid. immediately after the IPKF had substantially withdrawn from Sri Lanka. James Jupp. in the confession of the former Deputy Inspector General of Police. the killing of the TULF leader. (Hoole et al 1990. (See Alles. 79. both in Colombo. A. (Hoole et al. 6) A Jeyaratnam Wilson. 75. 367. Sri Sabaratnam. CA: The Sri Lankan Studies Institute. Hurst and Company. Ernest Gellner.” (Colombo: Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi. UTHR. See University Teachers for Human Rights. From time to time though. K. in 1975. cited in E. The Illegitimacy of Nationalism (Delhi: Oxford University Press. and finally by reason of their territorial habitation of definite areas. the separatist groups participated in the provincial council elections of 1987. Sri Lanka: Third World Democracy (London: Cass. 1992 [1983]). Rohana Wijeweera.” (in Rajan Hoole.Territorial Spaces and Their Identities: 38 forecast a violent future for Sri Lanka. must decide how they should die. 1992). including its leader. Particularly the JVP. . and the finding of a mass grave at Ratnapura. in Madras. accusing TELO of being the agents of Indian imperialism. Amirthalingam and the leader of the Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). their antagonism to the Peace Accord of 1987 victimized a large number of leftist leaders. Indrapala. The turning point in this direction was the assassination of the Mayor of Jaffna. and Rajani Thiranagama. 77. 1988).” (Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi. also contested the 1982 presidential election. 89. these groups did participate in elections. 78. for example. Subramaniam. See Wallerstein. 81-4) killing. Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. in July. 1951). 11. The Broken Palmyra (Claremont. Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press.J. thirteen leaders of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) which was elected to office in the North-East Provincial Council set up as a part of the peace agreement of 1987. 1994). 17) 74. “The Case for a Federal Constitution for Ceylon. The acceptance of this assumption is explicit in the Federal Party's manifesto that claims “The Tamil-speaking people of Sri Lanka constitute a nation distinct from that of the Singhalese by every fundamental test of nationhood. firstly that of a separate historical past in the island at least as ancient and as glorious as that of the Singhalese [sic]. 290-304) The government has shifted to using not only the military but also privately organized violence against their two enemies. Ashis Nandy. Duraiappa [SLFP Mayor of Jaffna Municipal Council]. Chola Inscriptions of Ceylon (Jaffna: University of Jaffna. 82. among others. Mr. 426 and 30) See also Alles. Mr. Hobsbawm. Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme. 1. 157. nor to die in an accident. 81. Kasi Ananthan's speech read. Uma Maheshwaran. who used to be a popular LSSP politician in the north] are enemies of the Tamil nation. Sritharan. in May 1986. “Mr. The Tamil people. 80. 1978). Arumpalam and Mr. xii.