Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Tamilnation > Tamilnation Library> Eelam Section > Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay, and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka - Neil Devotta


[See also 1. From ethnic outbidding to ethnic conflict: the institutional bases for Sri Lanka's separatist war  -  Neil Devotta in the Journal of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism  Vol. 11(1), 2005, 141-159]

2. Sinhala Buddhist Nationalist Ideology: Implications for Politics and Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka - Neil Devotta, East West Centre, Washington Publication, 2007

"Based on three years of research, the book describes how, in the mid-1950s, Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese politicians began competing for support among members of the Sinhala community. These politicians used the Sinhala language as part of a strategy to show that they or their party would provide the greatest benefits to the Sinhala community. As a result, the movement to replace English as the country�s official language with Sinhala and Tamil (the language of Sri Lanka's principal minority) was abandoned, and Sinhala became the sole official language in 1956.

DeVotta argues that this linguistic nationalism among Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese community influenced numerous laws and practices, leading officially representative agencies of government to cater to Sinhalese preferences and to disregard minority interests. The subsequent "institutional decay"�the degeneration of previously neutral state institutions�DeVotta argues, was responsible for the minority Tamils' unleashing a gruesome ethnic war. He further argues that increased devolution for the minority Tamils may be the best way out of the conflict.

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Neil DeVotta's book was published in March 2004 in the Stanford University Press Series on Contemporary Issues in Asia and the Pacific. DeVotta, who joined Hartwick's political science faculty in 2003, is an expert in ethnicity and nationalism, conflict resolution, democratization, and the politics of South Asia. He is co-editor, with Sumit Ganguly, of Understanding Contemporary India, published in 2003."

Dr. DeVotta�s earlier award winning dissertation, From Linguistic Nationalism to Ethnic Conflict: Sri Lanka in Comparative Perspective, provides an analysis and a case study of how linguistic nationalism gradually led to a disastrous ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.  His findings and arguments not only contribute to understanding the origins of the Sri Lankan ethnic debacle, but also bear great relevance to other cases of ethnolinguistic nationalism.  Dr. DeVotta is currently a postdoctoral fellow at James Madison College at Michigan State University.  His supervisor is Dr. Robert L. Hardgrave.



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