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Dr. Chandrasekere on Academic Tour in Sri Lanka

Dr. Sarath Chandrasekere was invited by the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka to address the First-ever International Conference on Migration held in Colombo, Sri Lanka during January 23-25, 2013. Dr. Chandrasekere delivered two presentations to the participants who were international and local university academics. The sub-theme of this conference was “Sri Lankans on the Move”.

Presentation I: Understanding Ethnic Identity Issues: A Theoretical Examination

This presentation was focused on theoretical constructs developed and used in the North American context in order to understand the process of social incorporation of immigrants into the host societies in the Industrial world. An attempt was made to assess the applicability of early ethnic identity theories such as “Assimilationists” theories (Robert Park, Milton Gordon etc.) to understand current ethnic identity construction process, and to what extent some new theories could replace the old theories. This was done with the recognition that the majority of immigrants entering North America and other industrial nations today come from non-traditional sources such as Asia. Dr. Chandrasekere brought up some interesting evidence to support his arguments from his own research on the identity construction process of people of Sri Lankan origin currently living in Canada.

Presentation 2: A Sociological Study of the Construction of Ethnic Identity by Immigrants to Ontario, Canada - The Case of Sri Lankans

This presentation was based on Dr. Chandrasekere’s own field research in Canada. Dr. Chandrasekere argued that immigrants from non-traditional sources such as Sri Lanka had not followed a path of assimilation. Rather, they have resorted to a different path while adopting an “integration strategy” towards social incorporation. What is clear from his data is that the Canadian identity is not necessarily gained to the extent that original ethnic identity is lost and, vice versa, ethnic identity is not necessarily retained to the extent that Canadian identity is not acquired.

This paper is based on his pioneering study of the Sri Lankans (in Canada) who are in the process of continuously reconstructing their new identity in the face of socio-economic and cultural influences they encounter in the Canadian society.

Both presentations will be published soon by the National Science Foundation of Sri lanka.

Dr. Chandrasekere was also invited by the International Research Centre of the oldest university in Sri Lanka- The University of Ceylon, Peradeniya- to deliver the same presentation to its faculty and students on January 29th, 2013.

His final assignment was to deliver a key note speech at a book launch organized by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES). Colombo, Sri Lanka. The title of his speech was “The Role of Social Sciences in the Rebuilding of Sri Lanka after the 26 Years Old War”. The ICES released a book entitled “Healing the Wounds” edited by Professor K T Silva and Dr. D Herath. Dr. Chandrasekere reviewed the book and spelled out some highlights of its empirical findings while adding his insights into the post-war attempts spearheaded by politicians, academics and non-governmental organizations in the country. Dr Chandrasekere has submitted a book review to the Canadian Review of Sociology and it has been accepted to be published on the 2013 May issue of the journal.

Anyone interested in the above research work should contact him at: chandraseker@upei.ca.

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