Reviews & Responses

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“There are two main reasons for welcoming The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice. The work presents the detailed recollections and reflections of Sri Lankans concerned with the making of the Constitution in 1972 that explore legal, political and social dimensions. Moreover, it contains much cogent analysis by scholars from across the globe of current thinking on the difficult path for constitutionalism in face of the power-struggle that has been, or is still being, waged in many diverse states and nations. These volumes are thus not only an important aid to a deeper understanding of the history of Sri Lanka; they are also a valuable addition to the growing literature on comparative constitutional law. A fine standard of editing is evident throughout and can be seen, for instance, in a remarkably full bibliography. The publishers are to be congratulated on the attractive design and printing of the work, which do full justice to the rich quality of its contents.”

Anthony Bradley, Q.C., Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law of the University of Edinburgh; Barrister, Cloisters Chambers; co-author of A.W. Bradley & K.D. Ewing (2011) Constitutional and Administrative Law (15th Ed.) (Longman).

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“A constitution is a country’s most important institution; and its fundamental principles influence the attendant political trajectory. From that standpoint, especially, The Sri Lankan Republic at 40, which evaluates the influences, foundation, and legacy of the island’s first republican constitution, is sine-qua-non for better understanding the processes and policies that birthed an institutional set up that has since unleashed political decay and democratic regression. It is a work that future constitutional engineers had better learn from—especially when retrying to establish a poly-ethnically inclusive institutional architecture after the current authoritarian dispensation has ruptured.”

– Dr Neil DeVotta, Associate Professor, Department of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University, U.S.A.; author of (2004) Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka (Stanford UP) and (forthcoming 2014) From Civil War to Soft Authoritarianism: Ethnonationalism and Democratic Regression in Sri Lanka (Routledge).

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“I still have a lot to learn about Sri Lankan history and politics. Fortunately the two volumes…offer a unique opportunity to fill this intellectual gap…immensely interesting.”

– Dr Detmar Doering, Liberales Institut, Berlin.

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 “Asanga Welikala has done all Sri Lankan and constitutional scholars a great service by producing this excellent publication – The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice. These two volumes bring together key scholars and practitioners from Sri Lanka and beyond who collectively give valuable perspectives, sophisticated arguments and rich material. The coverage of this book is substantial, covering theory and practice. It is difficult to overstate how important this publication is not only for Sri Lankan academic literature, but even more critically to inform Sri Lankans and the world today of the lessons and mistakes of the past. This book reminds us that constitutions matter.”

– Dr Harshan Kumarasingham, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London; Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Faculty of Economic and Social Science, University of Potsdam; author of (2013) A Political Legacy of the British Empire: Power and the Parliamentary System in Post-Colonial India and Sri Lanka (I.B. Tauris).

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“I have used several articles from the book for my elective course on ‘comparative constitutionalism in post-conflict pluralist societies,’ at the Jindal Global Law School near Delhi…my elective course is designed as a case study-focused survey of principles and practice in constitutional reform as a mechanism for conflict management and resolution in pluralist societies, with Sri Lanka being one of the principal case studies, among others. I therefore have utilised a number of the articles from the book as instructional materials for my students. It has proven to be an effective teaching resource in conveying theoretical concepts and principles through real-world contextual examples. Likewise, the authors of each of the articles are heavy-weights in the field and have conveyed what can oftentimes be esoteric subject-matter in accessible terms for wider consumption – a very helpful consideration for my law school students.”

Nikhil Narayan, Assistant Professor and Assistant Director, Centre for International Legal Studies, Jindal Global Law School, India.

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“At a time when the project of constitutionalism in Sri Lanka appears gravely imperilled, the publication of this outstanding collection of essays, interviews and recollections on the 1972 Constitution of Sri Lanka is both prescient and timely. Consisting of contributions by those involved in constitution-making both within and beyond Sri Lanka, this two-volume study is an excellent resource for students of constitutional and comparative law everywhere. It will be of particular interest to those who focus on the problems of constitutional theory and practice as they relate to ‘divided societies,’ which is a term that is increasingly applicable to most contemporary societies. By providing multiple perspectives focusing on constitutional history, constitutional theory and constitutional practice, the editor and contributors have made a concerted attempt to cater to a variety of factors that impact on and influence the development of constitutions and constitutional politics, which will make the result of their exertions be appealing to scholars of various disciplines. To outsiders (like me), the volumes provide an insightful description of the complex historical, geo-political and social factors that underpin the contemporary constitutional order in Sri Lanka. By involving leading scholars and practitioners of comparative constitutional law, the work speaks to the pressing issues of our time in a cosmopolitan voice, while drawing upon the Sri Lankan example as an important case study. For all these reasons, I believe that this study represents a brilliant achievement that deserves to be read, discussed and debated widely.”

– Dr Arun Thiruvengadam, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore; editor, Asian Journal of Comparative Law; co-editor, Sunil Khilnani, Vikram Raghavan & Arun K. Thiruvengadam (2013) Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia (Oxford UP).

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“The essays in this collection provide readers with sophisticated analyses that explain important aspects of Sri Lankan constitutionalism, often with reference to constitutional theory generally, along with detailed information about the Sri Lankan Constitution that many will find invaluable.”

Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; co-editor of Mark Tushnet, Thomas Fleiner & Cheryl Saunders (2012) Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law (Routledge); author of (2008) The Constitution of the United States of America (Hart); co-author of Mark V. Tushnet & Vicki C. Jackson (2006) Comparative Constitutional Law (2nd Ed.) (Foundation Press).

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Ode to the Home-Grown, Editorial of The Daily News (Sri Lanka), 17th May 2013

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  1. […] Reviews of the book by Laksiri Fernando, Kalana Senaratne, Judith Large and Kumudini Samuel have already been published on Groundviews and elsewhere, and are reproduced on the book’s dedicated website. […]

  2. […] architecture after the current authoritarian dispensation has ruptured.” – Dr Neil DeVotta, Associate Professor, Department of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University, U.S.A.; author of (2004) […]