Making sure history does not repeat itself

‘Herstory, History, Ourstory: Learning about and engaging with the past’

By Dimithri Wijesinghe

“Herstory, History, Ourstory: Learning about and engaging with the past” is a six-part webinar series hosted by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) that will explore the challenges of learning about and engaging with the past in multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies.
The webinar series will feature leading practitioners and scholars working in the fields of history, archaeology, anthropology, and art history and all presentations will be in English, with simultaneous language interpretations in Sinhala and Tamil.
The series will be held from 18 November to 9 December 2020 at 6 p.m. (IST) via Zoom.
The six parts will feature an expert of a field who will facilitate the discussion, including a number of foreign participations. 

Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri

18 November – Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, University of Colombo

Dewasiri is a history scholar and has also served as the President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association. At present, he teaches at the Department of History of the University of Colombo.






Jagath Weerasinghe

25 November – Jagath Weerasinghe, Post Graduate Institute of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya

An artist and an archaeologist, Weerasinghe is also a Co-Founder of the Theertha International Artists’ Collective. He currently teaches at the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology of the University of Kelaniya.






Sasanka Perera

27 November – Sasanka Perera, South Asian University, India

Perera is a trained cultural anthropologist whose research interests extend to the politics of education in multi-ethnic societies. At present, he teaches at the Department of Sociology of the South Asian University in India.






Natasha Karunaratne

30 November – Natasha Karunaratne, Enroot Education, USA

Being a recipient of the Asia Foundation’s Lanka Corps Fellowship, Karunaratne has worked with the ICES on making postwar research more pedagogically engaging for students and educators. She is currently the Manager of Operations of Enroot Education in the US. 






Nayla Hamadeh

2 December – Nayla Hamadeh, Lebanese Association for History, Lebanon

An educational activist experienced in the field of teacher engagement and professional development, Hamadeh is a founding member of the Lebanese Association for History (LAH) and at present, serves as the Association’s President. 







Thamotharampillai Sanathanan

9 December –  Thamotharampillai Sanathanan, University of Jaffna

Sanathanan is an artist and an art history scholar who has explored memory, war, displacement, as well as curriculum design and framing art history in his work. At present, he teaches at the Department of Fine Arts of the University of Jaffna. 





Speaking about what attendees can expect, moderator of the series Hasini Haputhanthri – a Fellow at ICES and a development professional and arts manager, shared that the series will explore four major questions with several practitioners and scholars working in these fields of history, archaeology, art history, and a broad spectrum of social sciences.
The questions being “how should we approach our past?”, “how can history education be sensitive to the multiple narratives that are part of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society?”, “how may narratives of women and other groups be integrated in mainstream history curricula in schools and other initiatives?”, and “how do other plural societies, like Lebanon, deal with multiple narratives?”, and some others.
Haputhanthri shared that studying history in this broader way is important when you are making decisions about the future, and to avoid repeating the same mistakes, one must know their history. She said that they often look at history and it is studied in a compartmentalised manner and they hope to introduce a holistic study of history, one that would benefit its students.
She also referred to the “why now?” question of why they chose to launch the programme amidst a pandemic and she shared that they had originally planned to carry out this programme at some point this year, however, due to Covid-19, they had to keep postponing it. Nevertheless, they finally decided the subject matter can no longer be postponed and so chose to conduct it online.
She said that what they hope is to lend itself into a broader discussion, adding that whatever profession you may be in you must know your history, especially modern history. She said that this programme is ideally for those in the study of history, students in universities who follow history studies, and also especially for teachers who teach the subject.
She said that teachers have struggled to find ways to teach history in an interesting manner, and if you are to take a subject lineup, not a lot of students would rate it very high. She said that it is important to lay your foundation and they hope to facilitate better learning of the subject as well.
Complete your registration using the following link: to receive the webinar invitation via email. Registrations close today (16)!