S05E03: Neloufer de Mel on the Cur­rent Eco­nom­ic, Social and Polit­i­cal Sit­u­a­tion in Sri Lanka

The caus­es of the cur­rent soci­etal, eco­nom­ic, and polit­i­cal cri­sis in Sri Lan­ka are com­plex. The imme­di­ate roots of the cri­sis are the local and glob­al eco­nom­ic fac­tors, fuelled by the pop­u­lar protests against the cor­rup­tion of the gov­ern­ing polit­i­cal elites. What does the ongo­ing cri­sis have to do with cat­a­stroph­ic or dis­tant events like the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic or Rus­si­a’s war of aggres­sion in Ukraine? What role does for­eign debt, espe­cial­ly indebt­ed­ness to Chi­na, play in the cri­sis? How does the frag­ile archi­tec­ture of Sri Lanka’s polit­i­cal econ­o­my and its depen­dence on remit­tances sur­vive when funds are being siphoned off into for­eign invest­ments by the nation­al elites? What are the prospects of civ­il soci­ety-led demo­c­ra­t­ic reforms in the face of Sri Lanka’s mil­i­ta­rized polit­i­cal structures?

Guests fea­tured in this episode

Neloufer de Mel, Senior Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Colom­bo in Sri Lan­ka. Draw­ing on fem­i­nist schol­ar­ship, post­colo­nial and cul­tur­al stud­ies, she has pub­lished exten­sive­ly on Sri Lankan soci­ety, gen­der, jus­tice. Neloufer has been award­ed numer­ous pres­ti­gious fel­low­ships and grants from the MacArthur Foun­da­tion, a Ful­bright Schol­ar­ship at Yale, and the IWM in Vien­na. Some of her books are: Women and the Nation’s Nar­ra­tive: Gen­der and Nation­al­ism in Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry Sri Lan­ka, Gen­der­ing the Tsuna­mi: Women’s Expe­ri­ences from Sri Lan­ka, and Mil­i­ta­riz­ing Sri Lan­ka: Pop­u­lar Cul­ture, Mem­o­ry and Nar­ra­tive in the Armed Con­flict (2007). 


Shalini Randeria

Shalini Randeria is Rector and President of the Central European University (Vienna/Budapest). Before, she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from 2014 to 2021. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.