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Sri Lanka--Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy

Focusing on the historical events of post-independence Sri Lanka, S. J. Tambiah analyzes the causes of the violent conflict between the majority Sinhalese Buddhists and the minority Tamils. He demonstrates that the crisis is primarily a result of recent societal stresses—educational expansions, linguistic policy, unemployment, uneven income distribution, population movements, contemporary uses of the past as religious and national ideology, and trends toward authoritarianism—rather than age-old racial and religious differences.

"In this concise, informative, lucidly written book, scrupulously documented and well indexed, [Tambiah] trains his dispassionate anthropologist’s eye on the tangled roots of an urgent, present-day problem in the passionate hope that enlightenment, understanding, and a generous spirit of compromise may yet be able to prevail."—Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor

"An incredibly rich and balanced analysis of the crisis. It is exemplary in highlighting the general complexities of ethnic crises in long-lived societies carrying a burden of historical memories."—Amita Shastri, Journal of Asian Studies

"Tambiah makes an eloquent case for pluralist democracy in a country abundantly endowed with excuses to abandon such an approach to politics."—Donald L. Horowitz, New Republic
"An excellent and thought-provoking book, for anyone who cares about Sri Lanka."—Paul Sieghart, Los Angeles Times Book Review

205 pages | 17 tables, 1 map, frontispiece | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1986

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Asian Studies: South Asia

History: Asian History

Political Science: Comparative Politics

Table of Contents

1. Backdrop
2. The Riots of 1983 and Their Origins: Deep Tensions and Surface Features
3. The Horror Story
4. Probing below the Surface
5. From British Raj to Independence: A Sketch of the Antecedents
6. Two Social Profiles
7. Reflections on Political Violence in Our Time
8. What Is to Be Done?
A Prescription for the Future
9. Epilogue: Biographical Interweavings
Appendix 1: "Judge come under attack": from The Times (of London), 18 January 1984
Appendix 2: The Sinhalese-Tamil Riots of 1958: from W. Wriggins: Ceylon: Dilemmas of a New Nation
Appendix 3: Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Problems: Myths and Realities: Report of the Committee for Rational Development, November 1983
Appendix 4: Report Made to the United Religious Organization, 25 July 1984
Appendix 5: Sri Lanka—Who Wants a Separate State? A publication of the Ministry of State, the Government of Sri Lanka, Overseas Information Series, no. 9 (11 November 1983)

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