Veiling the modular: literary language and subjective nationalism in Sinhala radio song of Sri Lanka, 1957-1964


  • Garrett Field Ohio University


This article examines ‘intratextuality’ of Sinhala-language radio songs and the socio- historical and institutional forces behind the production of these songs. The purpose of the article is to reflect on the conception of nationalism as elaborated by historian Manu Goswami. According to Goswami, nationalism is a globally transposable ‘module’ that social agents since the mid-nineteenth century have used to assert the uniqueness of their nation. In this article, I argue that this conception is illuminating because of its sensitivity to sub-global or global configurations that factor into the celebration of local particularities. And yet emphasizing the ‘doubled’ form of nationalism as simultaneously local-and-global should not overlook the way in which the particular, in the form of literary language, has the power to veil the global or ‘modular’ formations, the very formations that have set the parameters for celebrating the local. Using three Sinhala radio songs as examples, this article suggests that such veiling can become a crucial feature of ‘subjective’ nationalism. Subjective nationalism refers to the articulations of nationalism made through written and spoken communication and the effects of these discourses on the public consciousness. 

Author Biography

Garrett Field, Ohio University

Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology/Musicology


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How to Cite

Field, G. (2015). Veiling the modular: literary language and subjective nationalism in Sinhala radio song of Sri Lanka, 1957-1964. The South Asianist Journal, 4(1). Retrieved from