The Gentiles, A History of Sri Lanka 1498-1833

by Agnes Padmini Thambynayagam



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 10/22/2009

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 8.5x11
Page Count : 188
ISBN : 9781449023515

About the Book

There are many markers to suggest that the impact of Portuguese and Dutch rule on the society of Sri Lanka remains very deep. However, systematic studies of the impact are rare. The purpose of this book is to show the effect of this rule in a number of related fields: the development of social institutions, the transformation of religious practices, the establishment of an educational system and the evolution of language.

            The plural society we see in Sri Lanka today came about due to the occupation and settlement of the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and other Europeans. Between 1505 and 1832, the population of the island evolved through the intermixing of people from European countries who had entered and settled there. The consequence of such an evolution over a period of three hundred years has resulted not only in much variation in appearance and skin colour, but also in the language, religion and culture of those now living in Sri Lanka.   

This book goes against all norms of traditional teachings and beliefs. History that took centuries in the making was crystallized in a few lesser-known and obscure journals and archives. Many of these archives have been ignored by previous studies. The author, a native of Sri Lanka, has assimilated a comprehensive bibliography of the literature and presents her findings to the reader. Her analysis and narrative give an insightful look at the era of Portuguese, Dutch and early British rule in Sri Lanka. The book, while controversial - perhaps even provocative at times - gives stimulus for future research in this area.

About the Author

Agnes Thambynayagam has conducted extensive research into Sri Lankan history between 1498 and 1832. A significant portion of her research was conducted during her tenure at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, England, in 2003-2007.

Agnes was born in her mother’s home in Vavuniya, northern Sri Lanka in 1949. Her early childhood days were spent in her father’s village Mirusuvil, Jaffna.  She spent most of her childhood life learning about people in Chetty-Kullam, Chavakacheri, Vidataltivu and Kilinochchi where her father was stationed as the head-master of Roman Catholic Schools. She attended junior and high school at Holy Family Convent, a private Catholic Girls’ School in Jaffna. After leaving school, she taught mathematics, science and piano at Little Flower Convent in Karampon, Kayts and at St Antony’s R.C. School in Pasaiyoor, Jaffna.

Agnes moved to England in 1976 and worked for the British civil service in Manchester and the Inland Revenue in Cambridge. She moved to the United States with her family in 1984. Agnes taught as a substitute teacher at Four Winds Special Education School in New York and Danbury Schools in Connecticut.

Agnes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Houston, Texas and a Masters degree in Education from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. She studied the culture of India at the University of Western Connecticut, Buddhism and Hinduism at the University of Oxford and Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University in England. Agnes is an amateur photographer and has also played table tennis and badminton competitively in Sri Lanka, USA and UK.

Agnes has travelled throughout Sri Lanka, Europe, Canada and the United States. Her wide knowledge and her understanding of her people both at home and abroad have given her an insightful perspective which illuminates her book, ‘The Gentiles, A History of Sri Lanka 1498-1833’.