Michael Roberts’ book “Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period” has its roots in his course on “Nationalism and its Problems” taught at Peradeniya University from 1972-1975. The book addresses the lively literature on Sri Lanka produced by a number of scholars (mostly foreign) in the early 1990s who were influenced by the sociology of knowledge and “Post-Orientalist” thinking. These scholars validly pinpointed the danger of reading the present into the past. However, their conclusions denied the significance of Sinhala and Tamil collective identities in the pre-British period as a result of cultural exchanges and the ingress of different peoples from India into the southern areas of the island.
In this seminar, the speaker provided an account of how this book came to be written and presented some key facets of this monograph.