Nationalism, Development and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka

Hosted by the Department of International Development

CLM.7.02, Clement House, LSE


Dr Rajesh Venugopal

Dr Rajesh Venugopal

Assistant Professor in Managing Humanitarianism in the Department of International Development

Professor David Keen

Professor David Keen

Professor of Complex Emergencies in the Department of International Development

Dr. Farzana Haniffa

Dr. Farzana Haniffa

University of Colombo / Cambridge

Iromi Perera

Iromi Perera

Urban Development Policy Researcher, Sri Lanka

Vindhya Buthpitiya

Vindhya Buthpitiya

University College London


Dr Alessandra Radicati/ Dr Luke Heslop

Dr Alessandra Radicati/ Dr Luke Heslop

LSE Fellow in the Department of International Development and Department of Anthropology

This is a two-part event discussing Rajesh Venugopal's book, Nationalism, Development and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka through Cambridge University Press. 

Drawing on a historically informed political sociology, it explores how the economic and the ethnic have encountered one another, focusing in particular on the phenomenon of Sinhala nationalism. In doing so, the book engages with some of the central issues in contemporary Sri Lanka: why has the ethnic conflict been so protracted, and so resistant to solution? What explains the enduring political significance of Sinhala nationalism? What is the relationship between market reform and conflict? Why did the Norwegian-sponsored peace process collapse? How is the Rajapaksa phenomenon to be understood? The topical spread of the book is broad, covering the evolution of peasant agriculture, land scarcity, state welfarism, nationalist ideology, party systems, political morality, military employment, business elites, market reforms, and development aid.

The first part of the event will feature a discussion of the book from the author and panellists. The second part will be devoted to discussing the current political crisis in Sri Lanka, with a panel discussion and exchange with the audience. 

First-half of the event
Panel 1:  Book event: Nationalism, Development and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka, by Rajesh Venugopal.
Speakers: Dr. Rajesh Venugopal, Prof. David Keen 
Chair: Dr. Alessandra Radicati

Second-half of the event
Panel 2:  Sri Lanka’s Political Crisis and Post-Coup Futures
Speakers: Dr. Farzana Haniffa (University of Colombo / Cambridge), Iromi Perera and Vindhya Buthpitiya (UCL)
Chair: Dr Luke Heslop

The event will be followed by a drinks reception which will finish at 9pm. 

Event hashtag: #LSEsrilanka

About the speakers

Rajesh Venugopal (@rajeshvenugopal) is Assistant Professor at the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His primary research interests are in the political sociology of development and violent conflict, particularly with reference to South Asia. He has researched and written on post-conflict reconstruction, nationalism, development aid, private sector development, and liberal peacebuilding. 

Iromi Perera (@iromip) is a Colombo based researcher and activist. She was a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in Sri Lanka for nine years, and headed CPA's survey research unit. Her research and advocacy currently focuses on Sri Lanka's post war development related issues, specifically evictions and forced displacement in Colombo, contested sacred sites, and eminent domain. 

Vindhya Buthpitiya (@vindib_ ) is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at University College London researching the relationship between popular photography and articulations of Tamil identity and citizenship in post-war Sri Lanka. She has held numerous consultancy positions in social and policy research within the public, private and non-governmental sectors in Sri Lanka, with a focus on post-war reconciliation and development, and community-environment relationships.

Dr. Farzana Haniffa (@FaraFarout) is Senior Lecturer at University of Colombo- Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology and documents the history and sociology of the Muslim communities of Sri Lanka. In 2011 Dr Haniffa, together with a team of Commissioners, advisers, and researchers, engaged in a fact finding and documentation exercise regarding the expulsion of Muslims from the North of Sri Lanka by the LTTE in October 1990. 

David Keen received his doctorate from Oxford. His study of the political economy of famine was published by Princeton University Press as The Benefits of Famine.

About the chairs

Dr Alessandra Radicati (@ARadicati ) is an anthropologist and urban geographer concerned with material and symbolic dimensions of life in contemporary cities. She is LSE Fellow in the Department of International Development where she teaches on the MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. Based on 13 months of field research, Alessandra's PhD was an ethnographic exploration of urban development in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

Dr Luke Heslop (@LAHeslop) is an LSE Fellow in the Department of Anthropology. His doctoral research focused on trade and mercantile kinship in South Asia, and his recent research focus is on infrastructure and connectivity in the Indian Ocean.

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