Pathfinder Foundation

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Novel Approach to Reconciliation

Promoting Dialogue on Historical Perspectives.

The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) has embarked upon yet another pioneering effort to facilitate reconciliation among major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, through commissioning research on and sharing historical memories. After the initial stakeholder consultation held in July 11’ four broad areas were identified for detailed research and analysis:

  1. Peopling of Sri Lanka: Focusing on the diverse origins of Sri Lankans.
  2. State Building: The history of Sri Lanka’s state formation.
  3. School Curricula: The role of education in forging a harmonious multi-ethnic society and a shared Sri Lankan identity.
  4. The War: Shared Experiences and Suffering.

Working Groups (WGs) are being constituted to undertake rigorous research on each of these areas. They will comprise mainly historians, with inputs from economists and sociologists.

Subsequently, the first research group was formed and commissioned to undertake a study on State Building. Members of the research group have developed detailed outlines of the study at a recent brainstorming session. It will address: (i) Pre-Colonial; (ii) Colonial and (iii) Post-Colonial, state building projects as perceived by the major ethnic communities.

Columbia University is collaborating with the PF and will mainly provide the international experience in dealing with post-conflict reconciliation, particularly developing strategies based on historical memories.

A Columbia University representative met with the PF, as well as members of the WG & Steering group this week to discuss the research study and share international experiences and expertise. PF intends to constitute WGs to address the other areas identified for research and analysis soon.


Last Updated on Friday, 16 March 2012 16:10

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The Shared History Project

Columbia University, USA with assistance from the Pathfinder Foundation (PF) organized a Dialogue with a selected group of academics, intellectuals and civil society leaders on “Historical Memory as a Tool for Conflict Resolution” on the 22nd of July 2011 at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo. The keynote presentation was made by Prof. Elazar Barkan, and an open discussion followed thereafter.

The objective of this project was to engage scholars and intellectuals with different perspectives to work together in collaborative work to produce shared narratives which will provide reliable facts and commentary for public debate and discussion. The goal is to provide a framework for mutual understanding.

Elazar Barkan is a Professor of International and Public Affairs; and Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights and SIPA Human Rights Concentration, Columbia University.

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