Tamils and Sinhalese in Colonial Sri Lanka
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.
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