Colonialism fundamentally changed the traditional pattern of Asian migration and opened new avenues for trade and investment for migrant merchant communities and occupational opportunities as indentured labour for agrarian classes. The Indian communities who migrated to Sri Lanka during British rule played vital and diverse roles in the colony’s economic transformation.
When Sri Lanka transformed from a colony to nation with independence in 1948 citizenship emerged as controversial and crucial issue. With transfer of power to Sri Lankan leaders their economic agendas and the requirements of citizenship of the new nation these migrant communities were confronted with critical problem of either expulsion or integration. The principle problem addressed in this research will be the impact of citizenship issue on the Indian communities and their responses. The proposed study will examine the complex dynamism with which these communities deployed their respective economic bargaining power and the potential political strength to overcome these problems and successfully integrate into the new nation while safeguarding their economic and occupational interests.
The research for this study will use primary archival sources and data from ethnological and biographical studies of different Indian communities, personal interviews and field research.
M. Sriyani Gunarathne, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Stream: Cultural Studies
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