1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

H. L. Seneviratne

Professor, Emeritus

Ph.D. University of Rochester 1973

P.O. Box 400120


My early research interests were fashioned by three factors in the context of my growing up in Sri Lanka. First, Buddhist rituals were all around me, and I was stimulated to explore the meaning of these rituals. Second, Sri Lanka was going through radical social change. Third, Sri Lanka was groping for an identity and economic security after its recent emergence from British colonial domination. My published work reflects these contextual factors as well as my belief that the utility of traditional sociological theory is by no means exhausted.

My present work represents a critical examination of the themes and social processes arising from the kind of social context mentioned above, which is commonplace in the contemporary world. Social change, emergence from colonialism, and the search for national identity and economic security have brought out a great deal of idealism, but much more turbulence, confusion and human suffering. I believe anthropology should contribute to our understanding of these, and help minimize poverty, inequality, injustice, discrimination, violence and human rights abuses. Broadly conceived inquiry into these areas constitutes an important part of my present research interests.


Religion and politics, socialism, classical social theory, human rights, democracy and free market economy, ethno-nationalism, cinema, art and popular culture.


Charles R. Kaut
Professor, Emeritus
Susan McKinnon
Professor, Emerita
Peter Metcalf
Professor, Emeritus
Marion Ross
Lecturer, Emerita
J. David Sapir
Professor, Emeritus
H. L. Seneviratne
Professor, Emeritus