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“Return to Sri Lanka: Travels in a Paradoxical Island” by Prof. Razeen Sally

We kicked off our first book club for 2020 by taking on a newly released book titled “Return to Sri Lanka: Travels in a Paradoxical Island” by Professor Razeen Sally.

The book club discussion covered several themes including reflection on Professor Sally’s perspectives and to the extent to which the readers agreed, or found certain material relevant.

The main focus of the session was onward from Chapter 4 of the book. Some of the themes discussed include:

  • The “mixed-fruit society” of Ceylon; tracing back Sri Lanka’s cultural and ethnic tensions through myths and reality
  • Whether cultural differences or network effects best explain the export industries dominated by Sri Lanka’s minorities
  • Sri Lanka and its factor endowments: On if the “bounty” and resources in the wet zone makes the Sinhalese work-shy
  • Sri Lanka’s attitude towards immigrants and foreigners 
  • Sri Lankan politics after the Easter Attacks
  • “A peninsularity of mind”: Tamil politics and its history within Sri Lanka
  • Scenarios for Sri Lanka’s future under President Gotabaya: Drift, take-off or backslide?

Thoughts were shared on various issues such as segregation in Sri Lankan society, the prospects of our future economy given past trends, the sentimental tone brought out in the book…and occasional digressions into areas of interest such as the viability of economic models in predicting scenarios for countries.

Overall, it was a very interesting session and a very good read – we definitely recommend!