Discussion with Pr. Eric Meyer and Pr. Sasanka Perera
July 5, 6 PM
How does the insular condition of Sri Lanka affect the different historical, political and social realities of the country? Delve into an online discussion around this topic with Pr. Eric Meyer and Pr. Sasanka Perera on July 5th, 2021, at 6 PM.
Pr. Eric Meyer
Eric Paul Meyer is a French historian specializing in Sri Lanka and the Indian subcontinent. He was a university professor at the "Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales" from 1994 to 2009, where he was director of the South Asia department and then vice-president. Previously, he was a researcher at the CNRS (1976-1994) and director of the Center for Indian and South Asian Studies (EHESS) from 1983 to 1991. His research initially focused on the relationship between colonial capitalism and rural society, and more specifically on the interaction between farmers, planters and the colonial state in Sri Lanka. He then extended his work to the history of inter-communal tensions between Sinhalese and Tamils, and analyzed the separatist conflict he witnessed (1983-2009), and the ideologies that underpin it. He is particularly interested in the uses of history in the construction of national identities, and since 2009 has been co-directing a collective project on non-Western historiographies.
He is the author, among others, of Sri Lanka - Biography of an Island - Between Local & Global (Viator Publications, 2003), Sri Lanka between particularism and globalization (La Documentation Française, 2001) and The uses of history and linguistics in the identity debate in Sri Lanka (in "La question identitaire en Asie du Sud, J. L. Racine, EHESS, 2001).
Pr. Sasanka Perera
Sasanka Perera is Professor of Sociology at South Asian University, New Delhi where he has been since 2011. He was Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences from 2011– 2018 and the University’s Vice President from 2016 to 2019. He was the Editor in Chief of the journal, Society and Culture in South Asia co-published by Sage and South Asian University from 2011 to 2020. Having been trained as a cultural anthropologist, he also served the Department of Sociology at the University of Colombo for a period of 20 years. In his teaching career, he has straddled subject areas that are considered both sociology and anthropology in the general parlance, despite the debates that surround these titles and disciplinary divides. In that sense, he has been able to cross boundaries and draw from developments in these disciplines quite liberally in both his own intellectual pursuits and in his endeavours to teach and guide students. His research interests have enabled him to work in Sri Lanka, USA, Cambodia, Pakistan, Nepal, Japan and India. He has written extensively and published in Sri Lanka, India and internationally in the English and Sinhala languages. An interest in photography, poetry, blogging, art, music and journalism has kept him in touch with both his own creative drives as well as the changing world of thought and expression.
His publications in English include, Warzone Tourism in Sri Lanka: Tales from Darker Places in Paradise (Sage, 2016); Violence and The Burden of Memory: Remembrance and Erasure in Sinhala Consciousness (Orient Black Swan, 2015) and Fear of the Visual? Photography, Anthropology and the Anxieties of Seeing (Orient Black Swan, 2020). The books he has co-edited and co-written include Against the Nation: Thinking Like South Asians (co-written with Dev Nath Pathak and Ravi Kumar, Bloomsbury, 2019); Intersections of Contemporary Art, Anthropology and Art History in South Asia: Decoding Visual Worlds (co-edited with Dev Nath Pathak, Palgrave MacMillan, 2019); Culture and Politics in South Asia: Performative Communication (co-edited with Dev Nath Pathak, Routledge, 2018) and Sociology and Social Anthropology in South Asia: Histories and Practices (co-edited with Ravi Kumar and Dev Nath Pathak, Orient BlackSwan, 2018). He has translated into Sinhala Jostein Gaarder’s short novel Vita Brevis: A Letter to St Augustine (2019) and Hisashi Inoue’s play Face of Jizo (2016).