Nobodies to Somebodies: The Rise of the Colonial Bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka

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Zed Books, 2000 - History - 412 pages
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Nobodies to Somebodies examines the origins and growth of the bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka during British rule - an important but neglected aspect of the country's modern history. It traces its evolution from a 'feudal' society and mercantilist economy, to the age of plantations. In the course of this evolution local merchants accumulated capital through arrack and toll renting, subsequently diversifying into plantation cultivation and graphite mining, thereby making dents in the old caste-based division of labour.This study assigns primacy to class over caste, and details the rise of the new-rich 'Nobodies' of many different castes, ethnicities and religions into the ranks of the 'Somebodies'. It discusses the links between capital accumulation, religious revivalism, ethnic identity and political movements, and the marriage 'cartels' which led to further concentration of wealth.The book focuses on the rentier nature of the bourgeoisie and how they adopted Western culture and lifestyles and were basically collaborative with the colonial rulers. It highlights the constraints on further capitalist development, the obsession of the bourgeoisie with land acquisition and social status, and its consciousness as a class, especially on issues of political reform.

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Transition to a Plantation Economy
Marketing Arrack Among Workers and Peasants

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About the author (2000)

Kumari Jayawardena taught Political Science at the University of Colombo, 1969-1985, when she retired as Associate Professor. During the years 1980-82, she taught at the Institute of Social Studies at the Hague, and was an Affiliate Fellow at the Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College, USA in 1987-88. She is currently a Senior Fellow of the Graduate Studies Institute of Colombo University. She also serves as Secretary of the Social Scientists' Association, a group of concerned scholars working on ethnic, gender, caste and other issues. Her books include: The Rise of the Labor Movement in Ceylon(Duke University Press, 1972)Ethnic and Class Conflicts in Ceylon (1985)Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World (Zed Books, 1986)The White Woman's Other Burden: Western Women and South Asia during British Rule (Routledge, 1995).Embodied Violence: Communalising Women's Sexuality in South Asia (coedited) (Zed Books and Kali for Women, 1998).

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