Education in colonial Ceylon- enabling a transnational disposition

Year: 2015

Author: Casinader, Niranjan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores some of the themes that form the basis of a new book being published by Routledge in 2016: Transnationalism, Education and Empowerment: The latent legacies of Empire.

The role of education throughout the British Empire during the colonial period been the subject of a substantial discourse over a number of years. One of the longstanding postcolonial perspectives is that education was one means through which the British maintained control and influence over its imperial possessions, often to the detriment of the social, economic and political development of local peoples. The diffusion of ‘Britishness’ through the educational systems is often seen to have occurred at the expense of indigenous cultural imperatives, viewpoints and principles.

One theme in the forthcoming publication is a proposition that such a view ignores or diminishes the reality that British education also enabled certain marginalised cultural groups within the Empire to create and actualise an identity and existence of transnational purpose that would not have existed otherwise. The paper seeks to exemplify an outline of this proposition through the context of colonial Ceylon, archival research into the history of education within that region, and the presenter’s own diasporic family history.