Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Abiding by Sri Lanka

On Peace, Place, and Postcolonality

2005
Author:

Qadri Ismail

Abiding by Sri Lanka

A provocative account of Sri Lankan politics and representative democracies in general

Abiding by Sri Lanka examines how the disciplines of anthropology, history, and literature treat the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. With close readings of texts that “abide” by Sri Lanka, texts that have a commitment to it, Ismail demonstrates that the problems in Sri Lanka raise fundamental concerns for us all regarding the relationship between democracies and minorities.

Abiding by Sri Lanka is a compelling book that extends the critical reach of poststructuralist and postcolonial theory into new areas of research.

Betty Joseph, author of Reading the East India Company, 1720-1840: Colonial Currencies of Gender

The lack of peace in Sri Lanka is commonly portrayed as a consequence of a violent, ethnonationalist conflict between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. Viewed in this light, resolution could be attained through conflict management. But, as Qadri Ismail reveals, this is too simplistic an understanding and cannot produce lasting peace.

Abiding by Sri Lanka examines how the disciplines of anthropology, history, and literature treat the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. Anthropology, Ismail contends, approaches Sri Lanka as an object from an “outside” and western point of view. History, addressing the conflict from the “inside,” abides by the place and so promotes change that is nationalist and exclusive. Neither of these fields imagines an inclusive community. Literature, Ismail argues, can.

With close readings of texts that “abide” by Sri Lanka, texts that have a commitment to it, Ismail demonstrates that the problems in Sri Lanka raise fundamental concerns for us all regarding the relationship between democracies and minorities. Recognizing the structural as well as political tendencies of representative democracies to suppress minorities, Ismail rethinks democracy by redefining the concept of the minority perspective, not as a subject-position of numerical insignificance, but as a conceptual space that opens up the possibility for distinction without domination and, ultimately, for peace.

Abiding by Sri Lanka

Qadri Ismail is associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota. He has also been a journalist in Sri Lanka.

Abiding by Sri Lanka

Abiding by Sri Lanka is a compelling book that extends the critical reach of poststructuralist and postcolonial theory into new areas of research.

Betty Joseph, author of Reading the East India Company, 1720-1840: Colonial Currencies of Gender

Offers insight into the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict and is representative of Ismail’s knowledge and understanding of the conflict. The book is appropriate for scholars who have a very strong interest in ethnic conflict and more important, those who are interested in alternative ways of examining ethnic conflict.

Perspectives on Political Science

Abiding by Sri Lanka

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Abiding by Sri Lanka

1 Better Things to Do: (Dis)Placing Sri Lanka, (Re)Conceptualizing Postcoloniality
2 Majority Rules: Reading a Sinhalese Nationalist History
3 Minority Matters: Reading a Tamil Nationalist History
4 What, to the Leftist, Is a Good Story? Two Fictional Critiques of Nationalism

Conclusion: Does Democracy Inhibit Peace?

Notes
Bibliography

Index