Anthropologizing Sri Lanka : a eurocentric misadventure


    • Goonatilake, Susantha


Anthropologizing Sri Lanka : a eurocentric misadventure

Susantha Goonatilake

Indiana University Press, 2001

  • :hdk
  • :pbk

大学図書館所蔵 件 / 9



Includes bibliographical references(p.[281]-296) and index



For nearly two and a half millennia, Sri Lanka has figured in the Western imagination. Recently her majority Sinhalese Buddhist population has emerged as an important subject for anthropologists. These studies have overshadowed works of economists, political scientists, geographers and sociologists. But Sri Lanka is not the typical isolated group of colonial anthropology. For thousands of years, it had a developed city culture and a literati conversant with serious issues of life and philosophy. Sinhalese themselves travelled far and wide. By the early Christian era, local and foreign records refer to Sinhalese travellers in Rome, China and of course countries in between. So just as other nations viewed Sri Lanka, her literati viewed the world from her strategic location. This book is about how recent anthropologists have constructed this complex entity. The study indicates that this anthropology is seriously flawed as to basic facts on the ground, the methodology used and conclusions arrived at. This post-colonial anthropology appears worse than anything colonial anthropology wrought, and in fact, worse than the colonial writings of the 19th and early 20th century on Sri Lanka. And, this has occurred after the period of questioning and decolonisation that anthropology went through in the 1960s and 1970s. The book examines why this has occurred, developing a sociology of local anthropology as a generic case. It describes the views the different authors have of each other, and the chain of academic and popular citations that is let loose by their writings. It identifies also the Sri Lankan peers and key informants for this anthropology - an identifiable group that fill in the contextual details of a complex reality. It is this set of institutions and individuals working largely outside the university structure and public domain that acts as a social cognitive matrix, filtering the local reality for visiting anthropologists. The re-emergence of this virulent colonial anthropology in Sri Lanka is examined from the perspective of particular social structures in Sri Lanka that generate and legitimise knowledge. The conclusion is that anthropology has severe limitations in capturing civilisational entities.


Contents Introduction Part 1. The Global and Civilizational Context 1. Conceptualizing the Anthropology of Sri Lanka Part 2. Protestantism and Transferring it in Sri Lanka 2. Changing Precepts and Practices of a Culture 3. Precept and Practice of Buddhism 4. Protestant Buddhism and Buddhism in Modern Protestantism 5. Protestant Buddhism "Transformed" Part 3. Finding the Sinhalese through sorcery 6. The Sorcerer's Apprentice 7. The Apprentice's Illness 8. Kapferer's Exorcist State Part 4. Sinhalese Fratricide 9. Tambiah's Sinhala Buddhists 10. Ethnic Fratricide Turns to Death of Facts Part 5. The Sociology of the Anthropologist Tribe 11. Towards a Sociology of Sri Lankan Anthropology 12. Key Players in a Cognitive Matrix: Prior Studies, Sources, Guides and Peers 13. The Anthropology of Sri Lanka at a Dead End Bibliography Index

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