Event Details

Thursday, 19 October 2017
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
UQ Location:
Michie Building (St Lucia)
Event category(s):

Event Contact

Miss Amelia Radke
(07) 3365 3236
Org. Unit:
Social Science

Event Description

Full Description:
Dr Roshan de Silva-Wijeyeratne, Law School, Griffith University

Title: From Sovereignty to Modernity: Revisiting the Bureaucratic Reforms of the 19th century and the Transformation of the Buddhist imaginary in colonial Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

The Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms (1831) have been characterised by David Scott (1995) as marking the transformation of colonial Ceylon from one kind of political rationality - that of mercantile sovereignty, – to another – that of colonial governmentality. Whilst consonant with the view that the Commission marked a moment when the colonial administration moved away from a strategic reliance on Asokan or Buddhist forms of authority in the earliest phase of British rule, I argue that there is a more nuanced genealogy to this transition. The Reforms, while directed to the administrative, judicial and political institutions of the colony, also contemplated extensive commercial restructuring that inculcated a mode of self-improvement into ‘everyday life’. But instead of marking a clear point of transformation, the Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms gave legibility to a process already under way, while providing further impetus to a socio-political rationality that had begun to shift decades prior. The taxonomic logic of these bureaucratic reforms and the subsequent reification of categories such as ‘Sinhalese’ and ‘Buddhism’ and the transformation of the Sinhalese revivalist moment into a nationalist movement changed the basis on which Sinhalese claims about the organization of the State would be made. While the Pali Chronicles expressed a specific Theravada consciousness, the impact of the revivalist movement, together with the Aryan theory of race, meant that in future the chronicles would become subjected to an epistemological revaluation that projected race onto the events of the past in order to inform both an anti-colonial and post-colonial agency.

Directions to UQ

Google Map:
To St Lucia Campus, UQ Ipswich, and UQ Gatton.

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