Author: Kumari Jayawardena
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8187496177
This book examines the origins and growth of the bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka during British rule - an important but neglected aspect of the country's modern history. It traces the evolution of the bourgeoisie from a feudal society and mercantilist economy, to the age of plantations. Local merchants accumulated capital through arrack and toll renting, diversifying into plantation cultivation and graphite mining, thereby making nets in the old caste-based division of labor.
The study assigns primacy to class over caste, and gives details about the rise of the new-rich 'Nobodies' of many castes, ethnicities and religions into the ranks of the 'Somebodies'. It discusses the links between capital accumulation, religious revivalism, ethnic identity and political movements, as well as the emergence of the bourgeois woman, and the marriage 'cartels' which led to further concentration of wealth.
The book focuses on the rentier nature of the bourgeoisie composed of Mudaliyars, merchants, liquour renters, plantation owners and professionals who adopted Western culture and lifestyles, and were basically collaborative with the colonial rulers. It highlights the constraints on further capitalist development, the obsession of the bourgeoisie with land acquisition and social status, and its consciousness as a class, especially on issues of political reform.
Map of Sri Lanka
Mainly Nobodies in a Colonial Backwater
Accumulating Status and Constructing Identity
Culture, Religious Revival and Gender
Capital and Politics