Category Archives: Abstracts

Papers abstracts

Childhood, disability and the social responsibility of storytelling: Reading Lal Medawattegedara’s Playing Pillow Politics at MGK

Shravika D. Amarasekara

Abstract

 

Contemporary theorists in the field of childhood studies have highlighted the functions of children and childhood in cultural productions, emphasising how, rather than being an essentialist idea with an underlying ‘reality,’ childhood is differently constructed within various cultures, historical periods, and political ideologies. Analysing how concepts of childhood operate within literary and cultural productions is significant to an understanding of the specific investments made in children within that particular sociohistorical context. Examples can be drawn from the field of postcolonial writing where the child is often seen functioning as a national allegory or a trope for the postcolonial condition. From a disability studies perspective, the focus on the function of the ‘disabled child’ within literature is even more recent. Recent interdisciplinary research drawing on disability studies and postcolonial literary studies establishes that the nexus between disability and childhood in literary productions can produce a powerful aesthetic impact. Within the above theoretical framework, this paper seeks to examine the textual investment in the role of the disabled child in Lal Medawattegedara’s novel Playing Pillow Politics at MGK (2013). The narrative is unravelled by Deshan, the child narrator who is marked by his disability even before birth, as a “defect embryo.” Despite his inability to “utter meaningful words,” the child narrator is textually framed as a ‘gifted child’/storyteller who has the uncanny ability to read the minds of the people around him and recount the stories of the community inhabiting ‘MahaGeeni Kanda.’ This paper examines the representation of the social responsibility of the artist through the lens of disability and childhood and argues that Medawattegedara’s novel draws on the notion of the “exceptional child” in mapping out the social responsibility of the storyteller within a contemporary Sri Lankan setting.

Keywords: childhood, disability, postcolonial studies, storytelling

Jathika Chinthanaya: History and Political Significance

Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri

Abstract

 

Abstract

This essay reviews the history of the intellectual discourse known as Jathika Chinthanaya in Sri Lanka. This discourse emerged in the Sinhala-Buddhist south of Sri Lanka as a left-oriented intellectual movement and soon transformed into the intellectual front of extreme Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-nationalism. The central problem addressed in this essay is how the movement shifted away from its initial promise to overcome the limits of Marxism and propose an alternative vision to the existing capitalist economic and social order to become instead the intellectual front of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism. This problem is investigated through a historical analysis of the evolution of the Jathika Chinthanaya discourse in its first two decades. The essay argues that the key to understanding the history of the movement, particularly the deviation from its left leanings towards an extreme form of ethno-nationalism, is to look at the problem in terms of the way in which it responded to the broader political and ideological circumstances in the Sinhala-Buddhist south in the period under review. Initially, the movement responded to the political vacuum created by the decline of the Left. This response took shape in a context where Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-nationalism was looking for new stimulus to face the challenge that came from growing militant Tamil nationalism. Jathika Chinthanaya successfully performed that task, especially by mobilising politically-conscious educated youth in the Sinhala-Buddhist south. Continuing to engage with the task of constructing an effective counter-discourse to the one that legitimised the Tamil political demands, the movement shifted further away from its initial left orientation and became an integral part of Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-nationalism as its most effective intellectual front.

 

Keywords: Gunadasa Amarasekera, Jathika Chinthanaya, Nalin De Silva, Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-nationalism, Sinhala-Buddhist South

Multifarious Replicas in Phenomenology: Metacognition and Mindfulness

W. M. P. Y. B. Rathnayake

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Abstract

Pedagogy has been seminally influenced by the studies on cognitive psychology in recent decades, leading research towards metacognitive approaches. Metacognition and mindfulness have been concepts used in cognitive pedagogical approaches with identical interpretations. Metacognition, a concept aligned with western scientific approach received grander recognition, while mindfulness being a Buddhist philosophical approach to mind that interacts less in research. This conceptual paper attempts to materialize a taxonomy for the Buddhist philosophical concept known as mindfulness and to contrast it with the taxonomy of metacognition thereby investigating the replicas of the two.

Taxonomy of metacognition is constructed upon two categories:  metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive skills. Metacognitive knowledge is a construct of three super categories: declarative, procedural, and conditional metacognitive knowledge. Metacognitive skills category consists of: regulation of cognition and executive functioning/metacognitive experiences. Mindfulness in contrast condenses three category levels: remembering and recollecting (sati), alertness (sampajañña), and ardency/compunction (atappa/ottappa). Remembering and recollecting category consists frames of references: body, feelings, mind and mental qualities at super-category level. Alertness category lies between the mind and the physical conduct of the body which has three super-categories. Ardency/compunction includes the desire/perseverance of mind to avoid unbeneficial coupled with desire to stimulate beneficial. These taxonomies at category, super-category and subcategory levels remain the material for the semantic analysis. 

The quintessence of both taxonomies remains identical thus paving category level replicas in reflection or remembering. The sub-category, super-category and category levels remain sensibly identical with distinctly agreed semantics. The semantics of two taxonomies display replicas in sub-category, super-category and category levels. Studies oriented towards calibration of such combined taxonomy for applied concerns in to the fields such as education, learning, cognitive psychology, pedagogy, psychopathology are prescribed. 

Keywords: Metacognition, Mindfulness, Phenomenology, Replicas, Taxonomy

Change and Continuity among the Batombu since 1900

Emmanuel Oladipo Ojo, Sabi Joshua Bio

Abstract

 

Like elsewhere in Nigeria and Africa, the ‘pacification’ and imposition of colonial rule on Batombuland and the incursion of western ideas produced profound sociocultural, economic,and political changes in Batombu society. However, unlike several Nigerian and African peoples whose histories have received extensive scholarly attention, the history of the Batombu has attracted very little such attention. Thus virtually neglected, the Batombu occupies a mere footnotein the extant historiography of Nigeria. This is the gap this article seeks to fill. It examines the impact of colonialism and western civilisation on Batombu’s political, social, economic,and cultural institutions and concludes that, as profound and far-reaching as these changes were,some important aspects of the indigenous institutions and traditional practices of the people survived.

Keywords: Batombu, Nigeria, Africa, colonialism, institutions, change, continuity

Decolonial Thinking, Southern Theory, and the Search for Alternative Epistemologies in the Social Sciences

Jayadeva Uyangoda

Abstract

 

A new discussion among Indian scholars has begun to initiate a critical dialogue between the postcolonial and decolonial approaches to historical and social analysis with radical traditions of social and political thought in India. Akash Singh Rathore’s book Indian Political Theory: Laying the Groundwork for Swaraj (2017) is an important intervention that raises important questions of the politics of theory, philosophy and epistemology while also suggesting that decolonial scholarship should be aware of the dangers of ‘hyper nationalism.’ Taking a clue from this book, this essay critically surveys the major scholarly strands that have attempted at producing ‘non-Western’ epistemologies and social –historical analysis and calls for an agenda that is broader than those proposed by Indian subaltern, postcolonial, and decolonial projects.

 

Keywords: Decolonial thinking, Southern theory, Subaltern approach, decolonization, western epistemology, alternative epistemologies

An Inventory of Arabic Learners’ Writing Strategies: A Sri Lankan Case Study

N. Gafoordeen

Abstract

Studies on writing in Arabic language are still in the early stages. This study investigated the writing strategies used by Sri Lankan learners of Arabic as a foreign language. The purposes of this study were to identify the writing strategies employed by these learners in composing Arabic essays and to propose an inventory of writing strategies for Arabic writing. This research employed a qualitative method. Participants were instructed to write an essay in Arabic, and data were elicited using a think-aloud protocol, observation, and retrospective interview. Eighteen pre-university Arabic language learners from the Fathih Institute of Sri Lanka participated in this investigation. They represent proficient, average, and less proficient writers and were selected based on a preliminary writing test and recommendation of the instructor. Data were then coded and rated by three experts. The Cohen’s Kappa inter-rater agreement value was 0.86. Findings showed that the learners used all five rhetorical, metacognitive, cognitive, communicative, and social/affective writing strategies. In using these strategies, the learners differed in how and why they used particular strategies. This study acknowledged thirty-six writing strategies used by persons learning Arabic as a foreign language in composing essays: an Arabic as a Foreign Language-Writing Strategies (AFL-WS) inventory. The findings suggest that Arabic writing instructors need to train learners in using these strategies effectively and productively. Then the learners would know their true ability to manage the language task.

Keywords: Arabic language, Sri Lanka, cognitive, metacognitive, writing strategies 

Caste in Popular Buddhism in Sri Lanka

U.G.L.B. Jayasooriya

Abstract

Buddhism is among major religious beliefs worldwide and is considered a philosophy rather than a religion. It is the doctrine preached by the Buddha. One of the most important teachings of Buddhism is equality; the Buddha rejected discrimination based on caste, colour, and so on and taught his followers to do the same. However, some current Buddhist practices clearly adhere to the caste discrimination prevailing in society. Hence the study was carried out to evaluate attitudes and perceptions of monks and laypersons about the prevailing caste related Buddhist practices against Buddha’s doctrine. A qualitative study was conducted on 20 subjects selected through purposive sampling. The sample was a mixture of laymen/women and Buddhist monks. In-depth interviews were conducted for approximately one hour per individual. The results revealed that the divisions of nikaya or monastic order/fraternity in Buddhism is primarily formed and continues based on caste differences. Further the study revealed the awareness of the general public regarding the caste-based practices in the Temple of Tooth. But none of there spondents could justify any of the findings in relation to Buddhist doctrine, and a majority believed caste-based practices as a tradition transferred from generation to generation. It was also explained by a few that casteism has become a tradition which the public accept blindly without questioning it in relation to Buddhist teachings. The results of the study recommend that Sinhala Buddhists who appreciate equality should contribute to a social discourse attempting to change caste-based discrimination. The study also suggests that people should get rid of conservative ideas to reject unacceptable practices prevailing in popular Buddhism so as to promote and protect pure Buddhism.

Keywords: Buddhism, caste, discrimination, nikaya (monastic order/fraternity)

“I am the only one propagating true Dharma”: Li Hongzhi’s Self-Presentation as Buddha and Greater

James R. Lewis

Abstract

 

Li Hongzhi, founder-leader of Falun Gong, was a controversial figure even before his movement was banned in China in 1999. We find conflicting images of Master Li (as Falun Gong members refer to him) as a revered spiritual teacher among his followers and as just another a cult leader to his detractors. From early on, Li Hongzhi presented himself as a high-level spiritual teacher who had studied under a series of exalted spiritual masters in what should be referred to as his hagiography.  Perhaps surprisingly, we also often find instances of practitioners and other friends of the movement blatantly ignoring, downplaying, or whitewashing the more controversial of Li Hongzhi’s teachings.  As his following grew, Li Hongzi’s claims to spiritual greatness grew as well, until he began viewing himself as a bodhisattva who had come to earth to save humanity from an impending apocalypse.  However, as his self-conception continued to expand, even the status of bodhisattva seemed insufficient to capture his increasing sense of his own specialness. Eventually, he not only claimed to be a transcendent god, situated well beyond all earthly and spiritual realms, but also claimed that all other spiritual teachers, including Jesus and the historical Buddha, were his disciples. This paper provides a brief backdrop to Li Hongzhi and the Falun Gong movement, then traces the development of Master Li’s evolving self-perception.

Keywords: Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong, new religion

Causal Relationship between Macroeconomic Variables and Banking Sector Stock Returns: Empirical Evidence from the Colombo Stock Exchange

A.A.M.D. Amarasinghe

Abstract

This study examines the causal relationship between macroeconomic variables and returns in the banking sector. Interest rate, exchange rate, and money supply are selected as macroeconomic variables because they are highly related with the activities of banks. Data on macroeconomic variables is collected from the publications of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka from January 2006 to December 2015. The Bank, Finance and Insurance (BFI) sector index is taken from the Colombo Stock Exchange website to calculate stock returns. The Augmented Dickey Fuller Test is used to check the stationary value of the time series data set. Results show that share returns are stationary at level and all macroeconomic variables are stationary at first difference. The Granger Causality Test is used to determine causality among variables. The results indicate a one way causality between share returns and exchange rate, a one way causality between money supply and share returns, and no causality between share returns and interest rate. Using causality results, variables are identified as independent and dependent to run regressions to identify the effects of each variable. Regression results show that there is a significant impact of exchange rate on stock returns as well as a significant impact of share returns on money supply. Investors are advised to key in on exchange rate changes when investing money in banking sector companies.

Keywords: banking sector, exchange rate, interest rate, money supply

Exploration of Recent Land Use and Land Cover Changes of the Bentota River Basin in Sri Lanka

Ranjana U.K. Piyadasa, Gayani Ranasinghe

Abstract

Land is one of the most important natural resources for the survival and prosperity of humankind, and it is the platform on which human activities take place. The terms land use and land cover are not synonymous and the literature draws attention to their differences so that they are used properly in studies of land use and land cover change. However, the distinction between land use and land cover, although relatively easy to make at a conceptual level, is not so straightforward in practice as available data do not make this distinction clearly all the time, a fact that complicates the analysis of either one of them. Taking into account the available land use data, this study is carried out to explore both land use and land cover change from 1983 to 2013 of the Bentota River basin located between the Western and Southern Provinces of Sri Lanka. Changes in both the qualitative as well as the quantitative characteristics of land use are described considering the extent of land use and the level of detail conditioned by the spatial level of analysis and the availability of requisite data. Temporal mixed land use diversity of the area was examined calculating land use ‘entropy’ values for different time periods. Findings indicate that 80% of paddy lands of the Bentota basin have been abandoned and converted into marshes, grasslands and scrubs. Tea and cinnamon are the emerging crops, while rubber and coconut lands in the area are seeing a reduction. The level of mixed land use diversity of the area during the last three decades is similar. Future land use activities of the area will consist of water retention areas, commercial use, recreational use, and tourist activity use due to the upcoming Dedduwa Lake Tourism Development Project.

Keywords: Entropy value, Land use and Land cover change