Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay, and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka

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Stanford University Press, 2004 - Political Science - 276 pages
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In the mid-1950s, Sri Lanka s majority Sinhalese politicians began outbidding one another on who could provide the greatest advantages for their community, using the Sinhala language as their instrument. The appeal to Sinhalese linguistic nationalism precipitated a situation in which 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 alone became the official language in 1956. The Tamils subsequent protests led to anti-Tamil riots and institutional decay, which meant that supposedly representative agencies of government catered to Sinhalese preferences and blatantly disregarded minority interests. This in turn led to the Tamils mobilizing, first politically then militarily, and by the mid-1970s Tamil youth were bent on creating a separate state.

 

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Contents

2 Ethnic Identities and Politics Before Independence
21
From Linguistic Parity to SinhalaOnly
42
The Official Language Act of 1956
73
The Consequences of the Official
92
From Linguistic Nationalism to Civil War
143
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Ethnic Conflict
166
Conclusion
191
Appendixes
207
F The Tamil Language Special Provisions Regulations 1966
213
Notes
225
References 253
253
Index
267
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About the author (2004)

Neil DeVotta is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Hartwick College, New York.

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