Language, Religion, and Ethnic Assertiveness: The Growth of Sinhalese Nationalism in Sri Lanka

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For nearly four decades, Sri Lanka has been the scene of an escalating ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamils, who form the largest minority. Language, Religion, and Ethnic Assertiveness traces the development of Sinhalese nationalism by paying particular attention to the Sinhala language and how it relates to Sinhalese national identity.
After Sri Lanka became independent from Great Britain in 1948, an official national language had to be chosen - either "Sinhala only" or "parity of status for Sinhala and Tamil." The victory of the "Sinhala only" proposition that won in the general election of 1956 started the antagonism between the Sinhalese and the Tamils that persists to this day.
Using hitherto untapped primary sources, K. N. O. Dharmadasa delineates some of the peculiar features of the linkage between state, religion, and ethnicity in traditional Sinhalese society, providing insight into a tragic conflict that has a long and turbulent history. The book has much to offer historians, political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists of language and religion, as well as students and scholars of South Asia, postcolonialism, ethnicity, cultural identity, and conflict.
 

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Contents

Early NineteenthCentury
5
The Triumph of English and the Emergence of Sinhala
27
The Sinhala Language as a Nationalist Cause
47
The NineteenthCentury Buddhist Revival
87
Revivalism Social Mobilization and the Sinhala Language
115
Identity Language and Modernization
155
Political Developments and the Position of the Vernacular
189
A Bid to Make
239
The Aftermath 194390
307
Biographical Notes on Important
321
Abbreviations
337
Bibliography
343
Index
363
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