Sunil Bastian

Towards a debate on state formation in Sri Lanka (2021)

This article argues that analysing the Sri Lankan state as a product of history is essential to understand the current situation. This means state is not treated as a finished, self contained entity. State formation as an ongoing process is a better way of looking at the Sri Lankan state. These are initial thoughts on this. This analysis implies we need to have a political vision that combines social justice, pluralism and deepening democracy fas an alternative political vision..

Few thoughts to begin 2021 (2021)

Written at the beginning of 2021 this is short reflection of what Sri Lankan has become.

Current situation in Sri Lanka - Some observations (2021)

At present Sri Lankan state is facing a number of problems. This an analysis within a framework that focuses on the state. The main argument is it is difficult to understand the problems faced by the Sri Lanka unless we take into account forty years of liberalisation and thirty years of armed conflict.

State formation - key ideas (2021)

A conceptual framework to analyse the history of state formation in Sri Lanka.

Understanding current regime (2016)

When regime change took place in 2015 the liberal lobby placed lot of hope on this change. This article written at the end of the first year of regime shows its limitations. It is internally divided. Its adherence to liberal peace and neoliberalism in economic policy is unlikely to have a positive impact on Sri Lanka.

Changing political visions (2019)

The article traces ideological orientations of organisations that have come to be known as civil society. It shows how political visions of these organisations changed from a broader perspective that included democracy, pluralism and social justice to a narrower vision with the acceptance of notion of conflict and conflict resolution. The focus of the latter is only violence and not the underlying structural reasons for violence.

Beyond Liberal Peace (2019)

A critique of liberal peace ideas that have dominated international interventions in Sri Lanka. By focusing on a historical analysis of what has happened in recent past, the article shows limitations of these ideas and argue for the need to go beyond them if Sri Lanka is to achieve peace.

Sunil Bastian is a political economist. His current research interests are politics of state formation and development of capitalism in Sri Lanka. He has published widely, and is the editor of Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka (1994). He has co-edited with Nicola Bastian, Assessing Participation, A debate from South Asia (1996), and with Robin Luckham, Can Democracy be Designed? The Politics of Institutional Choice in Conflict-torn Societies (2003) published by Zed Press, London. His most recent publication is The Politics of Foreign Aid in Sri Lanka. Promoting Markets and Supporting Peace (2007).  He has been a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo and chairperson of the Centre for Poverty Analysis. He has more than two decades of consultancy experience with a range of donor agencies.


The politics of foreign Aid in Sri Lanka The politics of foreign Aid in Sri Lanka
(2007) Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Promoting markets and supporting peace. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka
(1994) Editor, Devolution and Development. New Delhi: Konark Publishers.

Sustaining a state in conflict: Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Colombo:ICES, (2018) Sustaining a state in conflict: Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Colombo:ICES, (2018)
This study focuses on politics of foreign aid to Sri Lanka from developed countries of the West, Japan and multilateral agencies during the period 1977 to end of the armed conflict in 2009. This period is characterised by economic policies that emphasised liberal economic policies and an armed conflict resulting from the Tamil demand for a separate state. The study looks at politics of foreign aid in this context. Foreign aid played a dual role. It helped to sustain a state engaged in an armed conflict, while at the same time trying to promote a negotiated settlement. Therefore it was neither a do-gooder that liberals tend to believe nor a 'foreign devil that Sinhala nationalists like to see.

Assessing participation - A debate from south asia Assessing participation - A debate from south asia
(1997) Co-editor, Assessing Participation: A Debate from South Asia. New Delhi: ITDG/Konark Publishers.


Few thoughts to begin 2021 (2021)

Results of LG Election in February 2018 (2018)

(1999) The Failure of State Formation, Identity Conflict and Civil Society Responses – The Case of Sri Lanka.

(2009) Politics of Land Reform and Land settlement in Sri Lanka.


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