A Comparative Study on the Benefits of Nationality
Edited by Brad K. Blitz and Maureen Lynch
Chapter 5: From Statelessness to Citizenship: Up-country Tamils in Sri Lanka
P.P. Sivapragasam Source: © Greg Constantine 2010. Figure 5.1 Hill Tamils working on tea plantations in Sri Lanka have historically been discriminated against and were denied Sri Lankan citizenship for decades. While many have obtained Sri Lankan citizenship in recent years, thousands are still stateless. The history of plantation people in Sri Lanka goes back at least two hundred years. Because there is limited information available from that time period, there is much room for interpretation, and it is important to note that contemporary accounts may be coloured by an individual’s academic tradition, ethnic, religious and ideological perspective; or their relationship with the contemporary trade union movement. 84 M2482 - BLITZ PRINT.indd 84 21/12/2010 11:56 Up-country Tamils in Sri Lanka 85 The origin of plantations themselves can be traced back to the Portuguese Canary Islands in the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they were established in the New World where they mainly produced sugar and cotton for the European market – subsidized by African slave labour.1 Subsequently, and despite the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century, plantations spread under the aegis of an expanding Western imperialism into parts of Africa and Asia. A wider range of food, beverages and raw materials for industrial use were cultivated for the consumer markets and factories of the West. To this day, plantations remain an important form of agricultural production in many countries of the world. An important and recurring issue in plantation studies is the problem of definition. The issue...
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