chapter  1
24 Pages

Nation

WithAnoma Pieris

This chapter describes how Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-ontological security was increasingly spatialised via state-led development projects after 1977. It examines the active or passive acquiescence of the majority to undemocratic processes that salvaged their postcolonial dignity at the expense of minority groups. Massive structural transformations followed, including the island nation in the imminent global dissolution of Cold War borders and reconfiguring its geography and economy for investment-led national development. The relaxation of exchange controls for overseas education, followed by the establishment of private ‘international schools’, diverted knowledge streams away from uniform national curricula while heightening internal class divisions and re-orienting educational aspirations. Ethnonationalist sentiment, aired freely in the parliament against Tamil United Liberation Front advocacy of separatism, manifested in anti-Tamil pogroms in 1977, 1981 and 1983, triggering the transition to armed conflict. The conflict between these competing positions plunged their respective advocates into a protracted civil war.