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Tamils and the NationIndia and Sri Lanka Compared$
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Madurika Rasaratnam

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190498320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190498320.001.0001

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Becoming National

Becoming National

Tamils and Sinhalese in Colonial Sri Lanka

Chapter:
(p.81) 3 Becoming National
Source:
Tamils and the Nation
Author(s):

Madurika Rasaratnam

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190498320.003.0004

This chapter shows how and why pan-ethnic nationalism did not develop in colonial Sri Lanka despite arguably more propitious conditions. Although there were efforts to develop a pan-ethnic national movement, these failed to generate the temporally sustained activities linked to Congress success in India. It also shows that intra-Tamil and intra-Sinhalese ethnic conflict along caste, regional and religions lines were the principal axes of conflict during much of the colonial period. Contingent but temporally extended political processes overcame these divisions and led to the consolidation of incompatible Sinhala Buddhist and Tamil national identities. In the absence of a sustained pan-ethnic movement, these identities also became politically dominant with fateful consequences for the post-independence era.

Keywords:   Sri Lanka, Colonial, Tamil, Sinhala Buddhist, Revivalism, Pan-ethnic, Caste, Religion, Intra-Tamil, Intra-Sinhala

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