Abiding by Sri Lanka Qadri Ismail's way

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Qadri Ismail's book, Abiding by Sri Lanka: On Peace, Place, and Postcoloniality (2005) suggests that literary theory might help Sri Lankans re-imagine the colonial social categories and histories that underwrite their long-running conflict. Ismail also argues that the social sciences (particularly anthropology) and history fail Sri Lanka. They fail either because, like anthropology, their colonial origins render them epistemologically unable to 'abide by' Sri Lanka (or to see its politics as political); or because, like history, their embrace of an empiricist belief in an objectively real history betrays them into reconfirming nationalism. My article will argue that while the first part of Ismail's thesis is fascinating and useful (if a bit lacking in practical details), his claim that anthropology and history writing as such must be 'de-authorized' is too broad. It concludes by arguing for a cease-fire in Sri Lanka.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-186
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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