Universiteit Leiden

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Nadeera Rupesinghe


Dr. N.T. Rupesinghe
+31 71 527 2769

Nadeera Rupesinghe works on the legal history of Sri Lanka, with a special emphasis on the Dutch intervention on the island. She has studied hitherto unused legal sources at the Sri Lanka National Archives for her research.

More information about Nadeera Rupesinghe

Curriculum vitae

Nadeera Rupesinghe did her BA Hons in History at the University of Colombo in 2007 and obtained a second class (upper division). She then received an ENCOMPASS Scholarship offered by Leiden University and obtained a BA (History) cum laude in 2008. Her MPhil (History: Societies and Institutions) was also from Leiden University in 2010 under the ENCOMPASS scholarship which she passed cum laude. Her master’s thesis title was on revenue farmers in eighteenth-century Sri Lanka.
Having received an Asistant-in-Opleiding (AIO/PhD candidate) position at Leiden University she obtained her PhD in 2016 for her thesis titled ‘Negotiating Custom: Colonial Lawmaking in the Galle Landraad.’ The position was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, (NWO) and Leiden University Fund.

She is at present director general of the Department of National Archives in Sri Lanka and previously worked as a temporary lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Philosophy of Engineering, Open University of Sri Lanka where she was developing and coordinating curricula in the humanities for engineering students. She has collaborated on a cadastral database with scholars from Radboud University and Leiden University and worked as a research assistant to Prof Ronit Ricci, School of Culture, History and Language, The Australian National University.

Key publications

  • ‘Defining Land Rights in Dutch Sri Lanka.’ Portuguese Journal of Social Science 16 no. 2 (2017): 143-161, doi: 10.1386/pjss.16.2.143_1.
  • ‘Globalising Hansken: An Elephant in The Netherlands.’ In Abhinandanamālā: Nandana Chutiwongs Felicitation Volume. Bangkok: SPAFA Regional Centre of Archaeology and Fine Arts, 2010.


  • History Workshop, American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies. Feb 1-2. Co-organiser with Prof. Ronit Ricci. Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • History Workshop, American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies. Aug 10-11. Title: ‘Consuming Colonial Law: Illegitimate Birth in Dutch Sri Lanka.’ Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Public Lecture Series, Dept of National Archives. 23 Feb 2017. Title: ‘Do You Know the Ninth Commandment? Tensions of the Oath in Dutch Colonial Sri Lanka.’ Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History. 18-29 Jul 2016. Max Planck Institute for European Legal History. Paper title: Navigating Pluralities: Colonial Lawmaking in the Galle Landraad (1740-1796). Frankfurt, Germany.
  • Uses of Justice and Legal Pluralism. 17-18 Mar 2016, Leiden University. Paper title: Facing the Law in the Galle Landraad. Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Ocean of Law. 7-9 Dec 2015, Leiden University, organised by the Institute for History. Paper title: Navigating Pluralities: Colonial Lawmaking in Eighteenth-century Galle. Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Law Addressing Diversity: Pre-Modern Europe and India in Comparison, 22-25 May 2014, University of Vienna, organised by the Dept of Economic and Social History. Paper title: Legal Pluralism in Early Modern Sri Lanka. Vienna, Austria.
  • Rural History, 19-22 Aug 2013, University of Bern, organised by the European Rural History Organisation (EURHO). Paper title: Constructing a Legal Language in Dutch Colonial Sri Lanka. Bern, Switzerland.
  • Colonial (Mis)understandings, Jul 2013, organised by the Centre for Overseas History (CHAM) of the New University of Lisbon and Azores University. Paper title: ‘Defining the right to possess: Land rights in Dutch Sri Lanka’. Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Graduate Seminar, Institute for History, Leiden University, Dec 2012. Paper title: ‘Negotiating Custom: A History of the Galle District Court (1740-1796)’. Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, Jun 3-4, 2011, organised by the University of Cambridge. Paper title: ‘As truly as I lay my hand on the head of my child: Colonial Administrations of the Testimonial Oath’. Cambridge, UK.
  • Modern South Asia Workshop, Apr 9-10, 2011, organised by the South Asia Studies Council at Yale University. Paper title: ‘Dutch Colonial Law in Eighteenth-Century Sri Lanka’. New Haven, USA.
  • The Rise of Asia’s Maritime Frontiers, Aug 15-17, 2011 organised by Encompass, Leiden University. Panel presentation on ‘Impressions and samples of the rich holdings of the Sri Lanka National Archives’. Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Monsoon Asia in the Age of Revolutions: Changes of Regime and their Aftermath, 12–14 Jan, 2010 organised by Encompass, Leiden University. Paper title: ‘Settled Strangers: Tax Collectors in Eighteenth-century Sri Lanka.’ University of Mumbai, India.
  • South Asia Update, Nov 2009 an initiative of Asian Studies in Amsterdam / International Institute of Asian Studies. Paper title: ‘Rising Entrepreneurship: Revenue Farming in Sri Lanka (1771-91).’ Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 

Grants and awards

  • PhD position as AIO funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Leiden University Fund, 2010-2013.
  • Encountering a Common Past in Asia (ENCOMPASS) scholarship awarded by NWO, 2007-2010. 


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Algemene Geschiedenis


No relevant ancillary activities

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