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Negotiating Power and Constructing the Nation: Engineering in Sri Lanka

Bandura Witharana defended his thesis on 27 September 2018

Bandura Witharana
27 September 2018
Leiden Repository

I explore the community of engineers in Sri Lanka and their role with regard to three domains of inquiry. Each of these domains arguably were crucial in the formation of the Sri Lankan state and society: Caste and class formation in Sri Lanka, emergence of nationalism and nation building and the politics of knowledge construction within Sri Lankan context. The research will cover 4 periods: pre-colonial ancient Ceylon (before 1505); colonial rule (from 1508 to 1948); decade of Mahaweli River diversion (1980s); and contemporary Sri Lanka (from 2005 onwards, the time during which the state ideology and the popular Sinhala Buddhist ideology overlapped and led to the conclusion of the civil war). However, the emphasis will be on the formation and establishment of the caste structure in pre-colonial Ceylon, class formation particularly during the period of colonial rule by British, redefinition of nationalism during the decade of the Mahaweli river diversion project and nation building in contemporary Sri Lanka with the exploration of the earlier periods providing the backdrop within which the engineering profession in contemporary Sri Lanka will be situated.


  • Prof. dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe
  • Prof. (Em.) dr. H. Sriyananda (The Open University of Sri Lanka)
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