Nira K. Wickramasinghe

1964 –
late colonial and modern history, identity politics, everyday life, relationship state and society
South Asia

Curriculum vitae

1981-1983two-year preparatory course (Hypokhagne and Khagne), Paris
1984licence in history, Universite de Paris-IV-Sorbonne (1984)
1985maitrise in history, Universite de Paris-IV-Sorbonne
1986diplome d’Etudes Approfondies, History, Universite de Paris IV-Sorbonne
1989D.Phil in modern history, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
1990-2002senior lecturer, Department of History and International Relations, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
2003-2009professor, Department of History and International Relations, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
2010-presentchair/professor of Modern South Asian Studies, Leiden University

Special activities and positions

  • Member of the board of directors of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden
  • Head School of Asian Studies, Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), 2011-2013
  • Directed (with Prof Michael Herzfeld) the IIAS summer programme on Asian Studies, May 2011 – Heritage conserved and contested: Asian and European perspectives


Publications since 2010

2010 & F. Haniffa, “Sri Lanka.” In: J. Dhamija (ed.), Berg encyclopedia of world dress and fashion, vol 4: South and Southeast Asia, Oxford-New York: Berg Publishers, pp. 95-101.
“Colonial influence on dress in Sri Lanka.” In: Ibidem, pp. 249-254.
“Sri Lanka: the triumph of vulgar patriotism.” Current History 109,726: 158-162.
“Sri Lanka’s independence: shadows over a colonial graft.” In: P.R. Brass (ed.), Routledge handbook of South Asian politics: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, Abingdon UK: Routledge, pp. 41-51.
2011 “Authenticity and hybridity: scrutinising heritage.” IIAS newsletter 57: 20-21.
“Colonial governmentality: critical notes from a perpsective of South Asian studies.” Comparativ: Zeitschrift fur Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforshung 21,1: 32-40.
2012 “Democracy and entitlements in Sri Lanka: the 1970s crisis over university admission.” South Asian History and Culture 3,1: 81-96.
Review of: Sumithra Janaka Biyanwila, The labour movement in the global South: trade unions in Sri Lanka, 2011. Geschichte Transnational.
2013 “Fashioning a market: the Singer sewing machine in colonial Sri Lanka.” In: T.Rodgers Daniel, Raman Bhavani and Reimitz Helmut (eds), Cultures in motion, Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp.
“Producing the present: history as heritage in post-war patriotic Sri Lanka.” EPW 48,43: 91-100.
2014 Metallic modern: everyday machines in colonial Sri Lanka, New York-Oxford: Berghahn.
Sri Lanka in the modern age: a history, London and New York: C. Hurst, Oxford University Press.
“Sri Lanka in 2013: post-war oppressive stability.” Asian Survey 54,1: 199-205.
Review of: Sujit Sivasundaram, Islanded: Britain, Sri Lanka and the bounds of an Indian Ocean colony, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2013. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 37,3: 542-543.
2015 “Colonial governmentality and the political thinking through ‘1931’ in the Crown colony of Ceylon/Sri Lanka.” Socio 05: 99-114.
“Sri Lanka in 2014: cracks in the edifice.” Asian Survey 55,1: 60-66.
2016 Foreword to: Lodewijk Wagenaar, Cinnamon and elephants: Sri Lanka and the Netherlands from 1600, Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum-Nijmegen: uitgeverij Vantilt.
2017 “Citizens, Aryans, and Indians in Colonial Lanka: Discourses on Belonging in the 1920s-1930s.” In: M. Laffan (red.), Belonging across the Bay of Bengal: religious rites, colonial migrations, national rights. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 139-157.
Review of: Sasanka Perera, Warzone tourism in Sri Lanka: Tales from darker places in paradise, New Delhi; Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing, 2016. ? 90(4): 851-852.
2018 & M. Carter, “Forcing the archive: involuntary migrants ‘of Ceylon’ in the Indian Ocean World of the 18–19th centuries.” South Asian History and Culture 9,2: 194-206.
2019& Alicia Schrikker, “The ambivalence of freedom: slaves in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.” The Journal of Asian Studies 78,3: 497-519. DOI:
“La fabrication de la stabilite oppressive et la resilience de la democratie au Sri Lanka.” In: Alain Dieckhoff, Christophe Jaffrelot, Elise Massicard (eds) L’ Enjeu mondial: Populismes au pouvoir. Paris: Presses de Sciences, pp. 211-226.
Review of: Ronit Ricci, (2016) Exile in Colonial Asia: kings, convicts, commemoration, itinerario, Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2016. International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction 43,1: 181-183.
2020Review of: Zoltán Biedermann, (Dis)connected empires: Imperial Portugal, Sri Lankan diplomacy, and the making of a Habsburg Conquest in Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. The Journal of Asian Studies 79,1: 250-252. DOI:
& A.F. Schrikker (eds), Being a slave: histories and legacies of European slavery in the Indian Ocean, Leiden: LUP.
& A.F. Schrikker, “Introduction: enslaved in the Indian Ocean.” In: A.F. Schrikker and N.K. Wickramasinghe (eds), Being a slave: histories and legacies of European slavery in the Indian Ocean, Leiden: LUP, pp. 17-40.
& A.F.Schrikker, “Slavernij, slavenhandel en de VOC in Zuid-Azië.” In: P. Brandon et al. (eds), De slavernij in oost en west: Het Amsterdam onderzoek, Amsterdam: spectrum, pp. 172-181.