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FORCED-MIGRATION  November 2009

FORCED-MIGRATION November 2009

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Subject:

New member introduction: Michael Roberts

From:

Forced Migration List <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Forced Migration List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 11:45:01 +0000

Content-Type:

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Parts/Attachments

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Educated in the discipline of History at the University of Peradeniya 
and Oxford, *Michael Roberts* taught at Peradeniya from 1966 to 1976 
before moving sideways into Anthropology at the University of Adelaide 
in 1977. His many publications encompass social mobility, social 
history, agrarian issues, peasant protest, popular culture, urban 
history, caste in South Asia, practices of cultural domination and 
nationalism. His main focus has been Sri Lanka, but there have been 
ventures into Indian socio-political history, Australian myth making and 
the sociology of cricket; while his present concern is a comparative 
study of martyrdom. He is one of the central figures behind the new site 
http://sacrificialdevotionnetwork.wordpress.com/

The recent political brouhaha in Australia about “boat people” has led 
him to intervene in the debate through efforts at publishing articles 
that are relevant to the issues under discussion. These are based on 
anecdotal knowledge picked up over the year's but largely proceed on *a 
priori* lines and are founded on a number of surmises.

*Adjutant Australia* is critical of the fetish for order and the 
residual racism in Australia that underpins the hardline policy in place 
over the last decade or so in order to deter illegal immigration by sea. 
This critique of the Australian mind-set failed to make the cut in 
several Aussie media outlets, including *Eureka Street*, a radical 
website. So it has fallen back on the Lankan site www.groundviews.org

* *

*Speaking from Ignorance: Australians on Sri Lanka and Its Boat People 
*was drafted in order to present what I knew about both Sinhalese and 
Tamil migration over the last 60 years. A link to the *Australian’*s 
Opinions Editor drew encouraging signs. However, she was a kind of 
sergeant major in her own right and recast my text. This exercise 
involved deletions of criticisms of the media – hardly surprising that. 
The change of personality via style was a bit disconcerting, though 
perhaps there were pluses in the fact that some points were rendered 
sharper. I decided to bat within my limited powers and, aside from minor 
amendments, accepted the revised text. What I was not told and what 
caught me by surprise was a total change of title and shift of target. 
The revised text appeared in the *Australian *of 11 November 2009 as 
*Tamil Tall Tales*. Worse still the *Daily News* in Sri Lanka filched 
the essay from this source and published it on Friday 13 November. 
Needless to say many Tamils have reacted with the anger at what seemed 
to be a sweeping disparagement of their community. While this is in 
itself a body of data, I asked the editor if she would have been as 
insensitive if she was fashioning this title for the Yolngu, Wik or some 
Aboriginal group.

Well, *Tami Migration Within and Beyond Sri Lanka* is a partial response 
to the cyber comments on the Australian website. It is presently in 
search of a media outlet because the *Australian*’s editors are not 
interested.

In the interim I have also written *Crude Reasoning* after the Editor of 
an ABC website indicated which of the motifs in my unpublished draft, 
“Speaking from Ignorance,” that she was interested in. This time round 
there were only minor editorial changes and only a foreshortening of my 
original double-barrelled title. This essay has just gone up on web today.

I have another one or two essays in mind.


Links:

Taken in by Tamil tall tales:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/taken-in-by-tamil-tall-tales/story-e6frg6zo-1225794053578

Adjutant Australia: Controlling Boat People
http://www.groundviews.org/2009/11/07/adjutant-australia-controlling-boat-people/

Crude reasoning
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2736651.htm

*Please send replies to: [log in to unmask]*


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Note: The material contained in this communication comes to you from the 
Forced Migration Discussion List which is moderated by Forced Migration 
Online, Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), Oxford Department of International 
Development, University of Oxford. It does not necessarily reflect the 
views of the RSC or the University. If you re-print, copy, archive or 
re-post this message please retain this disclaimer. Quotations or 
extracts should include attribution to the original sources.

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