ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Aragalaya Movement

A New Equilibrium within the Sri Lankan Social Formation?

Between April and July 2022, there emerged in southern Sri Lanka an unprecedented political uprising in the modern history of the country—the Aragalaya movement. It brought together a new alliance of forces against the government, uniting all forms of communities from multiple ideologies, the mass movements of youth from the left and the right, lawyers, trade unions, and women’s and religious groups. This article is an exploration of the contingent efficacy of the politics of this movement, both the possibilities it enabled and the limits that circumscribed it.

The article is based on the author’s personal engagement and the experience with the Aragalaya movement. A version of this article was presented on a panel titled, “System Collapse: Debt Crisis and the Sri Lankan Uprising” at Colgate University in November 2022.

 

The author would like to express sincere thanks to Vidarshana Kannangara, Jude Fernando, Allegra Giovanni, Dan Burgdorf and the anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments on the earlier versions of this article.

On the subject of the massive outbreak of violence against the Tamils of all classes by the working and lower middle class Sinhala men in July 1983, political economist Newton Gunasinghe (1996: 204) writes that

the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983 constitute one of the most important turning points in the recent history of Sri Lanka. A particular equilibrium within the Sri Lankan social formation has been irrevocably lost and a new equilibrium is yet to be achieved.

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Updated On : 13th Aug, 2023
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