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Nobodies to Somebodies: The Rise of the Colonial Bourgeiosie in Sri Lanka

Kumari Jayawardena (Author)
Synopsis Nobodies to Somebodies examines the origins and growth of the bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka during British rule—an important but neglected aspect of the country’s modern history. It traces the evolution of the bourgeoisie from a ‘feudal’ society and mercantilist economy, to the age of plantations. Local merchants accumulated capital through arrack and toll renting, diversifying into plantation cultivation and graphite mining, thereby making dents in the old caste-based division of labour. This study assigns primacy to class over caste, and gives details about the rise of the new-rich ‘Nobodies’ of many castes, ethnicities and religions into the ranks of the ‘Somebodies’. It discusses the links between capital accumulation, religious revivalism, ethnic identity and political movements, as well as the emergence of the bourgeois woman, and the marriage ‘cartels’ which led to further concentration of wealth. The book focuses on the rentier nature of the bourgeoisie composed of Mudaliyars, merchants, liquour renters, plantation owners and professionals, who adopted western culture and lifestyles, and were basically collaborative with the colonial rulers. It highlights the constraints on further capitalist development, the obsession of the bourgeoisie with land acquisition and social status, and its consciousness as a class, especially on issues of political reform.
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About the author

Kumari Jayawardena

Kumari Jayawardena is the author of The Rise of The Labour Movement in Ceylone, Ethnic and Class Conflicts in Sri Lanka, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, and The White Woman’s Other Burden. She is a former Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Colombo, where she now teaches in the Women’s Studies Programme.

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Bibliographic information

Title Nobodies to Somebodies: The Rise of the Colonial Bourgeiosie in Sri Lanka
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2001
Edition 1st Ed.
Publisher LeftWord Books
Language: English
isbn 8187496177
length xxx+412p., Map.