By E. Valentine Daniel
This booklet discusses the anthropological and sociological elements of nationalistic violence. The publication is ideal for learning clash.
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Extra info for Charred Lullabies
6 The Tamils consider such a commendation as being nothing more than the expedient remark of a Sinhala nationalist. The Tamils who stand to lose the most by the Muslims’ renouncing of their Tamil-linguistic identity consider such shiftings of identities—characteristic, they would add, of the Muslims since the late-colonial and particularly the postindependence period—as shameless opportunism. Most Sinhalas would cynically agree. Alternatively it may be argued that such “Muslim-strategies” represent the vestige of a common precolonial practice when neither linguistic chauvinism nor linguistic nationalism prevailed, the practice of a time when communities were less imagined (in Anderson’s sense) and more real—that is, when communities were not made up of those whom OF HERI TAGE AND HI STORY 19 we might meet and in whom we recognized “sameness” only in principle, but of those whom we met in fact and with whom we were compelled to realize common interests, in which we identified likeness and difference and the necessary contingencies of change.
Gottlob Frege taught us that in addition to their ordinary reference, referring terms have sense (1960:56–78). A name is such a term. A referring term is presumed to mean what it does merely by virtue of what it refers to. “That is, their contribution to the meaning of sentences they occur in is entirely to ‘tie’ these sentences to 20 CHAPTER 1 the things (or sets of things) they name” (Martin 1987:143). Built into a theory of reference is the conceit of the objectivity of meaning, the realization of an external objective thing.
Signs of the Sinhala past—the Buddha’s visit to the island, for instance—are seen as actualized events, quite literally in his footprint on the mountain of Sri Pada. The reality of King Parakramabahu the Great is found in his irrigation tanks. Heritage, by contrast, is a semeiosic rheme. Whereas dicisigns are, to the community of interpreters, signs of actual fact (the factitiousness of these facts notwithstanding; that is a separate issue, which I shall not take up here), a rheme is not a sign of actuality but one of possibility; or more exactly, it is a sign that has a qualitative possibility as its significant effect.