EARLY LIFE IN SRI LANKA

The life story approach to oral history often begins with childhood. For some of our interviewees, youth coincided with the birth of an independent Ceylon, renamed Sri Lanka in the
1972 Constitution. Others came of age during periods of communal
conflict or war. In each case, their stories vividly recall the ebb and flow of daily life in a close-knit Jaffna village or in the bustle of the capital in Colombo.

LAYERS OF BELONGING

Reflecting on relationships in Sri Lanka between people of different regional, economic, ethnic or linguistic backgrounds, many recall a rich diversity of interactions.

POLITICS & THE NATION-STATE

When Britons arrived in Sri Lanka in the 18th Century, landing, as many tourists do now, on its coastal shores before carving a path deep into its lush, green geographic centre of Kandy, they were following a well-worn trail to the country opened up as early as 1505 by Portuguese and Dutch colonists.

TROUBLES

With statehood came the challenge of defining who belonged to the new nation and in what language its laws and customs would be communicated.

LEAVING & ARRIVAL

British Tamils had their own group of pioneers drawn to London long before it became a port of last resort and asylum for families and individuals fleeing conflict.

TRANSITIONS

As the mass migration away from Sri Lanka grew, Tamil life spread to many places, including Germany, Norway, Denmark, the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA. This type of experience is often referred to as diaspora.

HOME

Through the generations finds its resting place on the idea of home.
For our speakers, home may be a place in the past, the present or the future, in the imagination or in the physical comfort of community or family, in Britain, Sri Lanka, a homeland in the North and East of Sri Lanka or somewhere else entirely.