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Locating authenticity- The Politics and Poetics of Authenticity: A Cultural Genealogy of Sinhala Nationalism by Harshana Rambukwella

Author:

Neloufer De Mel

University of Colombo, Colombo, LK
About Neloufer
Department of English, Faculty of Arts
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Abstract

A popular idiom has it that “there are many ways to skin a cat”. If that cat was nationalism, one would have thought that in academic analysis, it had already been skinned in numerous ways, given the significant scholarship and debate the topic has generated in Sri Lanka, particularly since 1983. Harshana Rambukwella has, however, found a compelling angle to the story of Sinhala Buddhist ethno-nationalism (arguably the most important vector of nationalist discourse in Sri Lanka for its far-reaching impact) that has never been told in quite the same way before. That angle is authenticity – as an analytical category and register of discourse. Rambukwella defines it as a “punitive discourse” of inclusion and exclusion (p. 6), “protean, mobile and hard to pin down” (p. 19). It shares affinities with other units of analysis that we have heard before - whether of border and borderlands, hybridity, making and unmaking, narrativising, the politics of such and such, or constellations and contestations. So, what does authenticity bring to the conversation that is different, what does its deployment enable its author, and importantly, where most titles stop at the politics of something, why does Rambukwella title his book The Politics and Poetics of Authenticity?

How to Cite: De Mel, N., 2020. Locating authenticity- The Politics and Poetics of Authenticity: A Cultural Genealogy of Sinhala Nationalism by Harshana Rambukwella. Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences, 43(2), pp.109–111. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljss.v43i2.8142
Published on 31 Dec 2020.

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