10th International Conference on Sri Lanka Studies

" Sri Lanka  after 500 Years of Western Colonization and Future Perspectives”
16th - 18th December 2005
University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Panel Proposal Abstracts


10th ICSLS organizers received six proposals a a response for call for panel proposals.   Conveners participated in a special meeting of the National Organizing Committee and were delegated the responsibility of organizing the respective panels. Prospective presenters are advised to directly contact the conveners.

List of Panel Abstract [ Follow the link to read the abstract]

Panel 1

Iconography of Ancient Sri Lankan Coins.

Convener: Brigadier B Munasinghe (
E-mail: freudenberg@mega.lk)


Ancient Coins was a medium of exchange [vyavasharikam] and was legal tender admissible into the treasury [kosapravesyam] according to Kautiya’s Arthasastra. It also was means of exerting political authority over the region controlled by the Ruler or King and enforcing the economic policies on his subjects. The coins had to expressively or implicitly enforce this authority. It was more or less a show of strength.

Coins in what ever form or of metal or shape had to be accepted as a means of exchange for trade and commerce. They had to have symbols or names of ruler etc that could be easily recognized and readily accepted by the subjects.

The coins of the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka had many symbols that were common.  These coins were used along the land routes and the sea route. Most coins of the Island had unvarying symbol the Railed Swastika on one face of the Coin [The Reverse]. The Symbols on the obverse where mainly human figures [perhaps Indo- Aryan deities] and symbols depicting the main events in the life of the Buddha. The other Janapadas or small tribes along the famous land routes the Uttrapatha and Dhakinapatha  too followed more or similar practices. The panel will undertake a discussion of these symbols in order to understand the nature of relations among the Island and India

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Panel 2

Impact of Buddhist Philosophy on the West

Convener: Professor Daya Edirisinghe, Kelaniya University.(E-mail: ambagaha@yahoo.com)


Authoritative translation of Buddhist texts in to western languages started more than 150 years ago. Major organization involved in translation and publication of Pali and Sanskrit texts were, 1) Pali Text Society, London (PTS), 2)     Scared Books of the East (SBE), and 3) Harvard Oriental Series (HOS).

Many of the Pali Literature translation originated from Sri Lanka and its scholar monks. Some of them were residents of Vidyalankara Pirivena, Peliyagoda, Kelaniya. Buddhist philosophy and culture had major impact on western world in the form of philosophy, life style, culture, literature, psychology, art and science. Panel hopes to examine the impact of Buddhism of the western intellectual and social life, especially on that of the last century.

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Panel 3 

Portuguese and Sri Lankan Encounter

Convener: Professor M. U. de Silva, University of Ruhuna
(E-mail: kkaru@kln.ac.lk)


This panel explores the different social, political, military, cultural and religious changes that occurred with the arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka in 1505 (the year is disputed). The brutal ideology of the inquisition was transferred into Sri Lanka with sanction from different Papal Bulls. In the economy, it was the era of primitive global accumulation. Sri Lanka was transformed in many and drastic ways, to become next to the Philippines, the Asian country with the longest and deepest colonial impact. The detailed dimensions of this encounter are still to be recorded, more so from a contemporary post-colonial perspective. The panel calls for papers on a wide range of issues dealing with the encounter, especially on aspects not covered in the hitherto literature. Particularly papers are called on the various aspects of the country’s “spiritual and temporal conquest” (the exact phrase used by the Portuguese ideological historian Quiroz).  

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 Panel 4

The New Missionary Position: Current Anthropology of Sri Lanka as an Ideology for Re-Colonization

Convener: Susantha Goonatilake, PhD (E-mail: susanthag@hotmail.com)


Classical anthropology was the White Man’s view of the non-European. It was often one- sided, implicitly justifying colonialism, and was considered a “hand maiden of imperialism”.  When colonial countries achieved independence, anthropology was under intense attack for this colonial role. A “critique of anthropology” now arose and the subject attempted to transform itself; and in some cases, actually did. Meanwhile Buddhist studies in the West arose in the colonial era through the joint activities of Asian and Western scholars, Sri Lanka being a crucial generator of this knowledge.

Sri Lankan anthropology unlike in other countries did not go through a decolonization process and slipped easily into a virulent colonial mode. It has given rise to a semi-fictional school of anthropology studies. Here, local reality is deeply misread and it’s mostly Buddhist subjects of study continually derided. The result is a large body of literature on Sinhalese Buddhists, tangential to truth which has set in a train of socially solipsistic citations, especially by foreign anthropologists, strangers to the local culture coming here for a relatively short time. These studies have also denounced the local anti-colonial renaissance and thus implicitly hanker after the colonial period. Echoing colonial missionaries, these writers have also continuously called for foreign intervention in the country. Unique in the post-colonial world, this literature has therefore an implicit re-colonization agenda. It thus goes against anthropological injunctions of looking at the world through the eyes of the subject matter. Much of this anthropology is unknown among both the Sri Lankan public and social scientists, and the writers are not subject to open examination. Probably this is the only case in post World War II anthropology, where one has a body of literature that so completely distorts local reality and is against the population it studies.

 The panel explores aspects of this literature and its distortions. It hopes to trace the social crucible of networks out of which it arises, its effects and outcomes for knowledge and the country, especially in view of the shift of the global axis to Asia.

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Panel 5

The Role of Vidyalankara and Vidyodaya Pirivenas in the Anti-Colonial Struggle
Convener: Hema Goonatilake, Ph.D (E-mail: hgoonatilake@hotmail.com)


In the anti-colonial struggle of the late 19th-century and 20th century Vidyalankara and Vidyodaya Pirivenas were key centers of the cultural and national resistance.  Their leaders constituted part of the 40 scholar monks that formed a global and local network. Vidyalankara Pirivena became a centre of excellence for Buddhist learning and of the National Renaissance Movement.  The influence of Vidyalankara Pirivena and its allies varied from transmitting key Buddhist texts to the Western world, through the political impact on the Independence movement to the passing of the Free Education Act. 

At a time when Sri Lanka is today under attempts at re-colonization, it is important to recall and reassess those at Vidyalankara and their allies who turned the colonial clock back. Some writers supporting the re-colonizing agenda have derided Buddhist renaissance, as “the so-called Buddhist renaissance in the Western and Southern provinces in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries”. An anti-national tradition whose roots go back to the arrival of the Portuguese has also given rise to writers with a re-colonizing agenda.

The proposed panel invites papers on the period of the cultural and national renaissance in the late 19th and 20th centuries centered on Vidyalankara and Vidyodaya Pirivena. The presentations could include a) contributions of Vidyalankara and Vidyodaya to local and international discourse, b) critical assessments of the current distortions on the era, and c) hitherto unpublished documentation as well as (d) documentation existing in Sinhala but not yet accessed in English.

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 Panel 6

Defense Studies in ri Lanka: The Present and Future

Convener: Major General Upali Karunaratne
(E-mail: kkaru@kln.ac.lk)


Defense studies are an integral part of a country. They occupy not only an important academic role in developed countries but also in developing countries like India and Malaysia.  They would have regular academic conferences and publications on defense matters. 

Participation of researchers and personnel  from the Indian defense establishment at 8th  ICSLS at Jaipur depicted the interest and active involvement on a scholarly nature on affairs of Sri Lanka.   Such interest I not evident in Sri Lanka despite many formal establishments and debates mainly in the media. It is proposed that a panel be convened on defense studies at the forthcoming conference. Papers are invited not only from a purely military subjects but also from many other disciplines that bear on defense are invited for this panel.

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Panel 7

Defense Studies in ri Lanka: The Present and Future


Dr. Neelakshi Chandrasena Premawardhena (E-mail: neelakshi3@yahoo.com)


The colonization of the then Ceylon over 500 years ago exposed Sri Lankan citizens to a few European languages from Portuguese, Dutch to English. However, only English has weathered the change of time and secured the status of one of the national languages of Sri Lanka. Thus, learning English as a second language in Sri Lanka from primary school itself has paved way for the interested Sri Lankans to explore their ability in learning other foreign languages, too.


This panel will provide an ideal platform for scholars engaged in research on Foreign Language Teaching (FLT) in Sri Lanka to exchange their views, experiences and present their findings. Abstracts received so far for this panel include the following themes: Intercultural Communication in FLT, Use of ICT in FLT, Difficulties and contrastive aspects encountered in teaching French, German, Japanese, Chinese as foreign languages in Sri Lanka.

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10th ICSLS Contacts

For inquiries, Please contact:

Dr. K. Karunathilake,
Co-ordinator of the 10th ICSLS
Department of Sociology,
University of Kelaniya
Sri Lanka 

E-mail: kkaru@kln.ac.lk
Telephone: 94-11-2914490
Fax: 94-11-2911915

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