Historicizing Nationalist Discourse of the Origins of the Communities of Sri Lanka among the Contemporary Sinhalese

A qualitative analysis

by Jeyaseelan Gnanaseelan, (periodical unspecified), Melbourne, Australia, November 29-30, 2017

Historicizing Nationalist Discourse

Abstract

In the post-war reconciliation context, the Sri Lankans need to develop constructive discourse on political harmony, cohesion and co-habitation to make a positive impact on legislative changes towards post-conflict reconciliation, sustainable peace and justice. Ideological discourse constitutes power in constructing
ideational, textual and interpersonal constructs for legitimizing power in society. This paper qualitatively analyses the exemplified discourse extracts of some prominent contemporary Sinhalese, which represent majoritarianism and ethno-nationalism regarding the origins of the Sinhala and Tamil communities and the consequent status availed to their existence in Sri Lanka. The study focuses, with the historiographical evidence, on whether such discourse has been a part of the problem or a part of the solution to the protracted, historically constructed Sri Lankan conflict. It finds out the continuation of such persistent and reiterated linguistically embedded ethno-centric ideological and attitudinal positions even now, which need to be addressed. This paper recommends awareness creation among the public about the true, scientifically derived historical information on the origins, evolution and inter-community co-existence and conflict of the two communities so that a durable solution can be reached in the long run.

VI. CONCLUSION
This analysis concludes with the reinforcement that in the post-war reconciliation context in 2017 and onwards, the Sri Lankans need to develop constructive discourse on political harmony, cohesion and co-habitation in their civil, political as well as media discourse to make a positive impact on legislative changes being taken place towards the post-conflict reconciliation, sustainable peace and justice in Sri Lanka at present. The ideological historicized, ethno-nationalized
discourse of the Sinhala extremists and nationalists try to constitute power for a majority community and deprive the legitimate power for the minority communities and construct ideational, textual and interpersonal constructs based on their historical origins for legitimizing their power in Sri Lanka as
well as in the international society. This paper qualitatively analyzed the exemplified discourse extracts of some of the prominent contemporary Sinhalese, which represent majoritarianism and ethno-nationalism regarding the origins of the Sinhala and Tamil communities and the consequent status availed to their existence and the resolution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The conclusions derived from the historiographical evidence draws that this discourse supports
to the problematization of an important historical event which is related to the protracted, historically constructed Sri Lankan conflict. It finds out that these unilateral ideological positions continue even now. With an impartial, systematic examination of the history, the contemporary Sinhala and Tamil scholars
and the public should approach the ethnic conflict constructively to suit the present needs and grievances of all Sri Lankans. The Sri Lankans should be educated about the true history without any bias on the origins, evolution and coexistence and conflict of the two communities. Attaining an acceptable political solution for all the Sri Lankans seriously demands this approach.

Jeyaseelan Gnanaseelan is attached to Vavuniya Campus of the University of Jaffna, Pambaimadhu, Mannar Road, Vavuniya 43000 Sri Lanka

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