Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Sri Lanka Working Group

Past lectures

Post-War Sri Lanka
Informal Discussion Series-No.1

Women in the North and the East after the War

Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri
(Sri Lankan Chair - South Asia Institute,
Heidelberg University)

Date: Wednesday, 28.06.2017
Venue: South Asia Institute, Z10
Time: 4 pm

Gender, Nation and Diaspora: Post-Conflict Sri Lankan Women’s Writing

Talk by
Birte Heidemann,
Postdoctoral Researcher
Chair of Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies
University of Bremen

Date: Tuesday, 28.06.2016
Venue: SAI, Cafeteria
Time: 4 pm / 16 Uhr c.t.

The Sri Lanka Working Group cordially invites you to the talk by Siri Hettige (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka) entitled “Public Policies, Development and Peace in Sri Lanka”. The lecture takes place on June 20, 2016, 4:00 pm in room 317 of the South Asia Institute. Further information is available here.

Lecture: Healing the Mind? The Poiesis of Mental Health in Sri Lanka
by Eva Ambos
Research Fellow, Research Cluster "Asia and Europe in a Global Context", University of Heidelberg, Germany

Date: Wednesday 27.04.2016
Venue: South Asia Institute, E11
Time: 4 pm / 16 Uhr c.t.

The Sri Lanka Working Group invites to a cultural framework programme at the South Asia Institute as part of the Sri Lanka Week (17.-23.01.) in the Marstall Mensa, organised by the Studierendenwerk. It will take place on 19.1. and 21.01.2016.

On 19.01.2015, 4 pm Thillaiambalam Paramsothy will give a talk on "Flucht aus Sri Lanka: Einblick in den bürokratischen Marathon eines Flüchtlings" in room 316 of the SAI. Further information is available here.

On Thursday, 21.01.2016, 2-8 pm, talks, discussions and music will take place in the Heinrich-Zimmer Reading Room at the SAI. Afterwards there will be a reception. The detailed programme of the event is available on the poster.

Preaching to the Island of Lanka: Colonial Lankan Sufism and its Indian Ocean Context
Professor Torsten Tschacher
Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Date: Tuesday, 24.11.2015 Venue: South Asia Institute, R 316 Time: 4 pm / 16 Uhr c.t.

Further information: Poster

We cordially invite to the lecture  "Corruption and reconciliation in postwar Sri Lanka" by Prof. Camilla Orjuela (Associate Professorat the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden) as part of the Sri Lanka Lecture Series. The lecture (further information: Poster) will take place on Thursday, 11.06.2015, 4 p.m. in R 317, SAI.

We cordially invite to the lecture  "Citizens and the Political in Sri Lanka since 1931" by Prof. Nira Wickramasinghe (Modern South Asian Studies at Leiden University, Netherlands) as part of the Sri Lanka Lecture Series.
The lecture (further information: Poster) will take place on Tuesday, 12.05.2015, 4 p.m. in the Heinrich-Zimmer-Reading Room (Lesesaal), SAI.


The Sri Lanka Working Group cordially invites all interested persons to the meeting of the Sri Lanka Working Group.

Date: Thursday, January 8, at 16.00
Venue:, Room E11, SAI

Further informaton

Overview of past talks:




November 7, 2014

Prof. Dennis McGilvray (Boulder)

A House for Every Daughter: Tamil and Muslim Marriage in Sri Lanka Today

November 21, 2014

Rina Alluri, PhD

(Program Officer at the peace and conflict research institute, swisspeace)

The Politics of Peace and Conflict: The Role of Local Business in Sri Lanka

We cordially invite to:

Understanding The Dimensions Of A (Post-) War Economy: The Case Of Sri Lanka

by Dr. Des. Rina M. Alluri

Date: Friday, 21.11.2014
Venue: South Asia Institute, Room 316
Time: 1.15 p.m. / 13.15 Uhr


During the civil war in Sri Lanka, the country experienced a ‘war economy’ in the North and East that straddled between the government powers and the de facto administration of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Since the end of the war in 2009, the North and East have experienced an ‘economic opening’ wherein new businesses, industries and programs are emerging with the idea of an ‘untouched market’. This brings both opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, there is the opportunity to develop new markets, provide jobs and capacity building and support economic reconstruction. On the other hand, there is the risk that local livelihood opportunities become overshadowed by large-scale developments, an influx of human and financial resources from the south and increased militarization. This talk reflects on the perceptions of persons in the North and East on the post-war economy and the roles that the state, the military and the private sector play. It is based on empirical research with local businesspersons, academics, civil society actors and journalists who shared their perceptions of the potential of a ‘post-conflict peace economy’ that supports local livelihoods vis-à-vis the risks of a ‘post-conflict war economy’ that is sustained through violence, oppression and the use of force.

We cordially invite to:

A House for Every Daughter: Tamil and Muslim Marriage in Sri Lanka Today

by Professor Dennis McGilvray

Date: Friday, 7.11.2014
Venue: South Asia Institute, Room Z10
Time: 1.15 p.m. / 13.15 Uhr


Based upon fieldwork conducted in 2010-14, this presentation will explore contemporary marriage and dowry practices among Tamil Hindus and Tamil-speaking Muslims (Moors, co.akar) in the easternmost districts of Sri Lanka, a region deeply affected by the 2004 tsunami and the Eelam Wars. This part of the island is well-known for its system of matrilineal descent through women and its matrilocal residence pattern in which the husband joins his wife’s family in a house provided to her as dowry (, or its functional equivalent, a prenuptial gift ( The matrilocal system has proven to be highly resilient: in the wake of the tsunami that destroyed countless homes owned by women, most newly-built NGO dwellings are clearly destined to become female-owned dowry houses in the next generation. Without a house, a daughter is nearly unmarriageable, so poor Tamil and Muslim women sometimes take jobs as housemaids in the Gulf in order to construct dowry houses for themselves. Women from wealthier families, however, benefit from their substantial dowry assets. In the domain of marriage choice, a majority of matches are still arranged, including a subset of Dravidian-type marriages between cross-cousins. However, love marriages are definitely increasing, even including some romances initiated between cross-cousins themselves. The effects of travel, education, and global media can be seen in the changing traditions of Hindu and Muslim wedding ceremonies. Tamil Hindu weddings have added Brahmanicized elements to older non-Brahmanical rituals, while Muslim weddings have reduced or eliminated traditional elements deemed non-Islamic today. Locally-produced wedding videos now provide useful ethnographic information on both Tamil and Muslim marriage practices. The next stage of this project will be to determine more precisely how these Sri Lankan marriage patterns compare with other parts of the Tamil-speaking world, including Muslim settlements along the south Indian coast.

We cordially invite to:

Sri Lanka and the Geopolitics of the Indian Ocean

Rohitha Bashana Abeywardane
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

Date: Friday, 13.06.2014
Venue: South Asia Institute, Room Z10
Time: 4.15 p.m. / 16.15 Uhr s.t.


Indian Ocean has earned widespread interest as the 'centre stage' of geopolitical rivalry in the 21st Century since it contains the world's most important and the busiest strategic sea routes that converge the conflicting interests of major global powers. Consequently, the new power configuration in the region shaped by rising tensions between United States 'Asian Pivot policy' and China's westward power projection have become central areas of interest for many scholars on geopolitics. But the missing component of such discussions is the perspective from below to understand the true implications of these power rivalry and how they affect the destiny of vast number of people living in the region. The recent events unfolded in Sri Lanka provide an important window to grasp such neglected realities created by constantly changing strategic landscape. This presentation will focus on the big picture of Sri Lanka's conflict in order to understand the far reaching ramifications of emerging geopolitical confrontations in the region.

We cordially invite to:

Sri Lanka Lecture Series

Die internationale Gemeinschaft und der Konflikt in Sri Lanka

Prof.Dr.John P.Neelsen
Institut für Soziologie, Universität Tübingen

Date: Thursday, 03.07.2014
Venue: South Asia Institute, Room 317
Time: 2.15 p.m. / 14.15 Uhr



Der Kampf der Sri Lanka Tamilen um Selbstbestimmung hatte immer auch eine internationale und völkerrechtliche Dimension. So waren sukkzessive die Regionalmächte, allen voran Indien, im Zuge der Friedensverhandlungen dann europäische Regierungen unmittelbare Akteure. Einmal qualifiziert als 'Terroristen' wurden auch die USA und die UNO auf den Plan gerufen. Bis heute ist schliesslich die militärische Vernichtung der Aufstandsbewegung von 2009 umkämpfter Gegenstand in UN Organisationen.
Der Vortrag beleuchtet einige dieser zentralen Dimensionen unter dem Aspekt ihres Beitrags zum Verlauf und (vorläufigen) Ausgang des Konflikts.

Sri Lanka Lecture Series

On June 5, at 14.15 in Room 317, South Asia Institute, Professor Jonathan Spencer FRSE (Regius Chair of South Asian Language, Culture and Society; Deputy Head of School of Social and Political Science) will give the Sri Lanka Lecture Series inaugural lecture on “Pillayar and the Politicians: Divine Solutions to Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Problem”.

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Jonathan Spencer FRSE

Regius Chair of South Asian Language, Culture and Society;
Deputy Head of School of Social and Political Science