Kumari Jayawardena had her secondary education in Sri Lanka and entered the London School of Economics in 1952. She earned the B.Sc. (Economics) degree in 1955 and then qualified as a barrister from Lincoln's Inn, London in 1958. She also obtained the Certificat d'Etudes Politiques from the Institut de Science Politique, Paris in 1956. In 1964 she received a Ph.D. in industrial relations from the London School of Economics.
Jayawardena taught Political Science at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka from 1969 to 1985, when she retired as Associate Professor. She also taught in the Women and Development Masters Course at the Institute of Social Studies in the Hague, Netherlands from 1980-1982, and was an Affiliated Fellow of the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, USA in 1987-1988. She currently teaches in the Masters Programme in Women's Studies at the Colombo University and is a Senior Fellow of the Graduate Studies Institute of the Colombo University.
Jayawardena is the author of several books, including Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, which was chosen for the Feminist Fortnight award in Britain in 1986 and was cited by Ms. Magazine in the USA in 1992 as one of the 20 most important books of the feminist decades (1970-1990). This text is widely used in Women's Studies programs around the world.
Jayawardena's books and pamphlets have been translated into Sinhala and Tamil. She plays an active role in women's research organizations and civil rights movements in Sri Lanka, and is presently the Secretary of the Social Scientists' Association, a group of concerned scholars working on ethnic, gender, caste and other issues.
In Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, Kumari Jayawardena reconstructs the history of women's rights movements in Asia and the Middle East from the 19th century to the 1980s, focusing on Egypt, Turkey, Iran, India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. Her research shows that feminism was not a foreign ideology imposed on Third World countries, but instead, it developed on its own in Asia and the Middle East as women struggled for equal rights and against the subordination of women in the home and in society in general.
In The White Woman's Other Burden, Kumari Jayawardena examines the independent white women who challenged the normative gender roles laid down by the British during the occupation of South Asia. Specifically, she discusses the work of Katherine Mayo, Helena Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Madeleine Slade, Mirra Richard, and many others who struggled against colonialism for the betterment of all women.
Table of Contents:
1. The Noble and the Ignoble -- White Women as Goddesses and Devils
Part I: Saving the Sisters from the Sacred Cows -- Christianity and "Civilization"
Part II: Mothering India -- Women Social Reformers from the West
Part III: "Consolidation in an Alien Society" -- Women Theosophists and Orientalists
Part IV: White Women in Search of Black Gods
Part V: Comrades in Arms -- Western Socialist Women Fight Imperialism
From Nobodies to Somebodies -- The Rise of the Bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka. Colombo: Social Scientists' Association, 1998.
The White Woman's Other Burden -- Western Women and South Asia During British RuleNew York: Routledge, 1995.
Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World. London: Zed Books, 1986.
Ethnic and Class Conflicts in Sri Lanka. Colombo: , 1985.
The Rise of the Labor Movement in Ceylon. North Carolina: Duke University Pres, 1972.
Embodied Violence -- Communalising Women's Sexuality in South Asia. (Co-edited with Malathi de Alwis) London: Zed Books and Kali for Women, 1998.
"Annie Besant's Many Lives," Frontline (17 Oct 1997).
"The Women's Movement in Sri Lanka 1985-1995, A Glance Back Over Ten Years." (CENWOR, 1995).
"Sinhala Buddishm and the Daughters of the Soil," Pravda 1 (May 1992).
"Some Thoughts on the Left and the 'Woman Question' in South Asia," in Promissory Notes. Ed. S. Kruks, R. Rapp and M. Young. (Monthly Review Press, 1989).
"The National Question and the Left Movement in Sri Lanka," in Facets of Ethnicity. Ed. C. Abeysekera and N. Gunasinghe. (SSA, 1987).
"Feminist Consciousness in the Decade 1975-85," in UN Decades for Women -- Progress and Achievements of Women in Sri Lanka. CENWOR, 1986.
"Bhikkus in Revolt," Lanka Guardian (May-July 1979).
"The Origins of the Left Movement in Sri Lanka," Modern Ceylon Studies 2 (1971): 195-221.
"Economic and Political Factors in the 1915 Riots," Journal of Asian Studies 29 (Feb 1970).
"Pioneer Rebels among the Colombo Working Class," Young Socialist (Nov 1968).
"The Impact of the October Revolution 1917-1935," Ceylon Observer 16 (Nov 1967).
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