Department of English

Faculty of Arts - University of Peradeniya


Prof. Sumathy Sivamohan

BA (Hons) in English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (1984)
MA in English, Washington State University, USA (1995)
PhD in English, Washington State University, USA (1999)

+94-(0)81-2392543 (Office) / +94-(0)11-2505802 (Residence) / +94-(0)71-8016081 (Mobile)

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Sumathy Sivamohan is Professor in English at the Department of English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Her academic and research lie in the areas of gender, dispossession, the displaced, and the fraught question of nation, Sri Lankan literatures, translation and performance, film studies. She teaches in the areas of early modern English literature including Shakespeare, Critical Theory, modern comparative literature, and in performance and film studies. An award winning film maker, performer and play wright, poet and academic, her creative work emphasizes the idiom of conversation and colloquiality, while being experiments in form and style. She has performed widely, namely Delhi, New York, London, Melbourne, Zurich and nationally in many parts of the country. In 2011 she was awarded the Premchand Fellowship by the Sahithya Akademi of India.She is a non-violent militant activist of the cause of free education in Sri Lanka.

Educational Qualifications

  • BA (Hons) in English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (1984)
  • MA in English, Washington State University, USA (1995)
  • PhD in English, Washington State University, USA (1999)

Appointments (Selected)

  • Professor in English, Department of English, 2012-to the present
  • Head, Department of English, July 2001 to 2004 and 2012-2014
  • Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, Department of English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka from 1990 to the present.
  • Assistant Lecturer in English, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka from 1989-1990
  • Teaching Assistant, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington State, USA from August 1996-May 1999
  • Research Assistant-Washington State University, Pullman, Washington State, USA, from August 1995-May 1996

Research Interests

English Literature and Language, Social theory and sociological practice, gender and the nation with emphasis on Tamil and Muslim polities in Sri Lanka, media and the visual arts, translation studies, film practice and theory, theater practice and theory, Education and Critical Pedagogy

Research and Creative Contributions

  • An Incomplete Sentence: the cinema of Dharmasena Pathiraja. Edited with Robert Cruz and Ashley Ratnavibhushana. Colombo: Netpac, 2009
  • like myth and mother: a political autobiography in poetry and prose. Colombo, sirahununi, 2008. (Shortlisted for the Gratiaen Trust Award)
  • Thin Veils: In the Shadow of the Gun & Wicked Witch performing act/ivism. ICES, 2003.
  • Militants, Militarism and the crisis of (Tamil) nationalism. Monograph. Marga, 2003.
  • “A spoonful of sugar: the quest for survival and justice in the violence of gender and the violence of sex in the politics of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, in The Search for Justice: The Sri Lankan papers. Ed. Kishali Pinto Jayawardena. Delhi: Zubaan Publishers, 2016.
  • “Territorial Claims: Home, Land and Movement: women’s history of violence and the history of resistance in Sri Lanka’s north. The Search for Justice: The Sri Lankan papers. Ed. Kishali Pinto Jayawardena. Delhi: Zubaan Publishers, 2016.
  • “The University as Institution: Transforming the modern” in Neo Liberalism, Critical Pedagogy and Education. Delhi: Routledge, 2015.
  • “Is there war in your ‘Ur’? Jaffna is in the heart” in Continuities/Departures: Essays on Postcolonial Sri Lankan Women’s Creative Writing in English. ed. Dinithi Karunanayake and Selvy Thiruchandran. Colombo: Vijitha Yapa, 2011.
  • “Pennahamum Malaiyahamum: Isai Pizhilyapatta Veenaiyil Kaanapadaum Eluthum Penn (Feminine subjectivity and the subject of Malaiyaham: The woman as writer in the poetry of upcountry Tamil women). Dept. of Fine Arts Journal. 2016
  • “Man Waves: militarization, cultural subjectivity and subjecthood.” LST Review 2016
  • “Surveillance and Survival: Sri Lankan cinema in the post war years.” Frontline, February, 21, 2014.
  • “Reading ‘Halal’ in the classroom: pedagogical queries and political disquietitudes.” Phoneix: Sri Lanka Journal of English in the Commonwealth Vol. X, 2013/2014.
  • “my teacher talks of a sri lankan english: questing the literary.” Special issue on Anglophone Writing in Sri Lanka. South Asian Review: 33.3. 2013
  • “It is not about Race: reading Chinaman against the grain. Phoneix: Sri Lanka Journal of English in the Commonwealth. Vol. IX. 2012.
  • “Gendered Fictions: Media and the Making of the Malaiyaha Identity.” The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities, Volume XXXVIII (Number 1) 2012. pp. 43-62.
  • Produced and directed films, Sons and Fathers (2017), Ingirunthu (Here and Now) 2012, Oranges (2006) and Piralayam (2005)
  • Directed the plays Street Tales and the Sacred Chariot (Tamil, 2016), Journeys (Tamil, 2007), In the Shadow of the Gun, Mounathin Nizhalil (1995-to the present), Girish Karnad's Nagamanadala in Tamil (2000), Wanted (Tamil) Woman (2000), Selections from Dilemma of the Ghost by Ama Ata Aidoo (WSU, 1997).

Memberships and Awards

  • The Best Film (Jury) prize at the World Indian Film Festival Hyderabhad 2018 for the film Sons and Fathers
  • Teaching Award granted by Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University, March-May 2017
  • Erasmus Mundus Fellowship Award to be held at Univ. of Edinburgh for one month in 2016-2017
  • Award granted by GIZ and European Union for film on Music of the minorities in 2016
  • Honorable Mention Award for feature film Ingirunthu (Here and Now) by Global Film Initiative, USA, 2011
  • Premchand Memorial Fellowship awarded by Sahithya Akademi (The Board of Arts and Letters) of India for a writer from the SAARC region for 2011-2012
  • Fellowship at Solomon Asch Centre, University of Pennsylvania, USA, 2005
  • SSRC Research Fellow for the year 2003-2004 on the theme of Movement and Citizenship
  • Gratiaen Trust Award (co-winner) for best literary work in English for the year 2001
  • Harriet B. Rigas Award for Outstanding Woman in Graduate Studies at the Doctoral Level awarded by the Association for Faculty Women of Washington State University, USA in 1999
  • Fulbright Junior Scholarship awarded by IIE, USA, to pursue higher studies in the United States, from August 1993-May 1995

Other Credentials

  • Guest and Panelist at the Jaipur Literary Festival, Jaipur, India – 2016
  • Writer in Residence, University of Michigan, February – March, 2013
  • Writer in Residence at Sanskriti Kendra in New Delhi from Feb. 24th to April 29th, 2002.