Rice and Resistance

Crisis and Uprisings in Sri Lanka

Love Sri Lankan food? Hate capitalism?

Join us for dinner and discussion as we unpack the crises and people's resistances in Sri Lanka.

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Saturday, May 14, 7 pm

Starr Foundation Hall,

The New School University Center,

New York City

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About this event

Sri Lanka is currently facing the most dire economic crisis in its recent history, where the ruling Sinhala Buddhist nationalist government has abdicated its responsibility to its citizens, and has failed to meet the basic needs of the people. Sri Lankans have been facing shortages in food, medicines, cooking gas, and essential commodities, alongside long power cuts that last several hours at a stretch. The government’s proposed solution, the economic restructuring of the economy in partnership with the IMF, will only deepen the crisis, particularly for the poor and marginalized.

The last month has also given rise to an extraordinary new people’s movement in Sri Lanka, where a multi-class, multi-ethnic coalition of Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim polities have come together to challenge the hegemony of the crony Rajapaksha government, and demand fundamental transformation in the current political order. This movement cannot be looked at in isolation; it is built on a foundation of years of protests against the government—from Tamils in the North demanding justice to teachers and plantation workers striking for labor reforms.

This event seeks to look at the crisis in Sri Lanka from a left internationalist perspective. Speakers will unpack the events that precipitated the crisis, looking closely at the liberalization of the country’s economy starting in 1978, as well as the potential impacts of IMF-led economic restructuring. They will talk about organizing on the ground, and the emergent political formations and coalitions in opposition to the current government. A handful of non-Sri Lankan left-diaspora organizations will speak briefly on the connections between the conditions in Sri Lanka and their own contexts. Participants will then be invited to eat, and discuss the ties between neoliberalism, global capital and the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka, and the way forward.

This is imagined as the first event in a series of casual dinner events on issues facing the South Asian left today. As we continue with the series, we hope to build out a larger South Asian coalition of organizations, and together co-articulate a leftist South Asian politics that engages with ongoing movements in the region.

Speakers:

Jude Fernando, Clark University

Niyanthini Kadirgamar, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Vimukthi De Silva, Collective of Peasant Women in Sri Lanka

Kalpa Rajapaksha, University of Peradeniya