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Chapter Summary

The social stratification of the indigenous Ceylonese society in the nineteenth century has hitherto been analysed mostly along the lines of elite concepts. Patrick Peebles and Michael Roberts describe an elite as "a social formation which commands most of what others in a particular society want and maintains an influential position that enables it to provide leadership". When the British took over the former Dutch territories in 1796, their financial and administrative resources were limited. The Portuguese and the Dutch recruited their mudaliyars almost exclusively from the Sinhalese goyigama and the Tamil vellala caste. Although the mudaliyars' elite status was a product of colonial interference, they felt and behaved like true aristocrats. The increasing importance of external moneylenders, who provided entire villages with credits, marks the transition from internal village debt to external debt.

Keywords:British; Ceylonese society; elite status; Michael Roberts; moneylenders; mudaliyars; Patrick Peebles; Sinhalese goyigama; Tamil vellala caste

10.1163/ej.9789004163614.i-338.65
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004163614.i-338.65
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