"Linguistic Diversity: The cases of India and Sri Lanka"

4th SIS-EURAC Annual Lecture on Federalism
25 February 2020
25 February 2020

Venue: Economics Building, via Inama 5 (Trento) – Conference Room

The School of International Studies (SIS) - University of Trento, and the Institute for Comparative Federalism - Eurac Research Bolzano, jointly convene the

4th SIS-EURAC Annual Lecture on Federalism

Linguistic Diversity: The Cases of India and Sri Lanka

Asanga Welikala, School of Law, University of Edinburgh

The lecture analyses the comparative constitutional treatment of linguistic diversity in India and Sri Lanka. It is concerned with two main questions: first, why are these South Asian countries a useful set of case studies on this central challenge for constitutional politics and design on a more global scale, and second, where do we locate these South Asian cases within a general normative model of linguistic justice? In response to these questions, the lecture contends that the comparison is useful because they are the earliest examples of post-­­World War II attempts to deal with linguistic diversity as a matter of constitution-­­building, and which tell us important things about the political sociology of linguistic diversity within states, and the relationship between claims based on language (rights) and claims based on territory (federalism). Based on these insights, it is possible to draw lessons of more general application elsewhere for constitutional design and policy for the management – and indeed, the mismanagement – of linguistic diversity.

Dr Asanga Welikala is Lecturer in Public Law at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, and the Acting Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law. He is also a Research Associate of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and Research Fellow of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Sri Lanka. Asanga's research interests lie in comparative constitutional law, applied constitutional theory, and Commonwealth constitutional history. He teaches and supervises across the public law field in Edinburgh, at Ordinary, Honours, masters, and doctoral levels. Asanga has been involved on both sides of transnational influence on constitution-making: as a member of the Office of Constitutional Support, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq; in various international advisory capacities in other countries on constitutional and legal reform issues; and as an active civil society voice and an independent expert in the current constitution-making process in Sri Lanka.


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